Every time the boyfriend and I visit L.A., we make a point to stop by a little dessert shop in the heart of Thai Town. It’s name is Bhan Khanom Thai, which translates to House of Thai Desserts. It’s very appropriately named, as this little shop is filled, from floor to ceiling, with all kinds and varieties of Thai desserts. It goes far beyond the mango sticky rice and fried bananas that most Westerners are familiar with.
As such, I thought it would be fun to share with you what we bought on our most recent trip. But this sharing comes with one caveat – you have to promise not to judge us! I can assure you that we didn’t eat all of these desserts in one day… or even one week! We tend to buy boatloads from Bhan Khanom Thai with the hope that these desserts will last us until our next trip down to L.A. :)
Okay, so now that we’re all in agreement, let’s begin!
First up are Thai cookies. The flower-shaped cookies on top are known as kleeb lamduan (กลีบลำดวน) and the cashew-topped ones on bottom are called Singapore cookies (คุ๊กกี้สิงค์โปร์) . Both are adorable, little bite-sized morsels of goodness that I just can’t get enough of! In fact, I’m sure the boyfriend and I could finish off an entire package in one sitting if we didn’t exert some semblance of self-control!
The kleeb lamduan cookies are basic melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies which are infused with the aromas of ylang ylang and frankincense from the Thai dessert candle. This aroma is what elevates the cookie from ordinary to something completely addictive. The Singapore cookies are likewise hard to resist because they’re the perfect combination of sweet and salty, crispy and soft, and, of course, nutty.
Next up is roti sai mai (โรตีสายไหม). This is one of my favorites because it’s kind of like a grown-up version of cotton candy. The spun sugar is flavored with pandan and then eaten with a very thin, delicate roti-like wrapper. This wrapper isn’t sweet at all, so it works well to balance out the super sweet sugar strands. This is one that we never leave Bhan Khanom Thai without…
Another dessert I just can’t pass up are these “soft and chewy” jellies (กาละแม). I’m not sure I’ve come across anything like them in American cuisine, so they’re hard for me to describe, but basically they’re like a creamy jelly strip flavored with pandan. I believe the creaminess comes from coconut milk and the green color, of course, comes from pandan. I’m a sucker for anything flavored with pandan, but these little jelly strips have a special place in my heart. Add to that the fact that they come from the boyfriend’s home town of Chiang Mai, and there’s no way we can leave without them!
And finally, we generally buy some freshly-made Thai donuts (patongo / ปาท่องโก๋) and sweet rice cakes drizzled with caramel (khao tan / ข้าวแต๋น). The patongo make for a wonderful breakfast when served piping hot with a cold bottle of soy milk. And the khao tan are a perfect anytime snack. I had both of these desserts when I visited Thailand, so they very much remind me of that time whenever I eat them.
We used to also stock up on khanom chan (ขนมชั้น) and khanom krok (ขนมครก) with each visit to Bhan Khanom Thai. That is, until I learned how to make these delicious desserts at home. Now I’ve got my work cut out to figure out how to make the rest of these desserts!