May Kaidee, a popular restaurant just off Bangkok's infamous Khao San road, is one of the area's favoured eateries, both by vegetarians and omnivores. May runs the Bangkok end of the business, while her sister runs May Kaidee in Chiang Mai. Both branches offer a variety of cooking classes from basic Thai curries to tofu making.
May is from the Isan region of Thailand and that is apparent in her recipes. Regionally Isan cuisine is most akin to Lao cooking with its lack of coconut milk and preference for fiery heat, salty flavours, and sour punches. Sugar, which can overpower many central Thai dishes (in my opinion), features far less.
I signed up for a one day Isan cooking class with May when I was last in Bangkok. For about £35 she taught a good handful of recipes and enough food was prepared to feed the land, or to feed me one meal. Except I came down with food poisoning from a prior snack so my cooking lesson involved frequent toilet breaks and a lot of stubborn willpower. By the time May was wiping my face down with a cold towel, I realised the most balanced option was to let the other student do the cooking while I looked on and took notes.
Thankfully May was well versed in the art of Thai takeaway. When I woke up the next morning, broken fevered, I ravenously ate noodles and curry out of plastic bags with my fingers so that I resembled that glowing globe carrying alien from Doctor Who that looks like spaghetti face.
While it wasn't the most thorough cooking class I have ever taken (May's cooking style is very modern and forgoes a lot of steps more traditional cooks might take in food prep), the afternoon was enjoyable and I did learn some new recipes. The cooking school is an excellent jumping off point for anyone who wants to learn more about Thai cuisine.
Go to May Kaidee if:
- You're in the Khao San area for any reason.
- You've ever had a Thai curry and thought “damn, this is too sweet.”
- A hands on, fuss free Thai cooking class is on your to do list.