It seems like we've had a million things going on the past two weeks, what with my school schedule, some big projects at Matt's work, and the many festivals that we've been trying to attend on the weekends. This past weekend wasn't any different between the Dinkelacker Festival and the Venetian Festival in Ludwigsburg. We managed to push the Venetian Festival visit back to Sunday in hopes that the weather would be nicer, and so we had out Satuday night free. The blogging side of me wanted to check out the Dinkelacker Festival. This is the third year that we've been here and that the brewery festival has taken place. However, the wife side of me just couldn't pass up a chance to enjoy a nice meal out with my husband, just the two of us. And so, date night won out.
Our craving for that evening was somewhere in the realm of Asian, so we had a quick look at our "Restaurants to Try" list (yes, we really do keep one) and decided on Kanjana. We've had a couple of friends recommend this restaurant to us, and we've even passed by the restaurant a couple of times while out with friends.
We'd also heard that the chef at Kanjana was from the Floating Market, another Thai place in town that we've found good, but just okay. That said, the chef leaving for Kanjana may explain why we found the food to taste different at Floating Market on our last visit there. My Stuttgart restaurant guide also raves about Kanjana and says that the dishes are much like the ones that you would actually see in Thailand. Having never been to Thailand (yet), I can't comment on that, though I can say the food was pretty tasty.
When we walked into Kanjana, I immediately noticed the decor. A stunning gold wall lined the back area to the left of the bar, while a blooming flower chandelier lighted the main entryway. On every block-wood table stood a vase with a green shoot or spray of flowers, and everywhere we saw orchids. I know that there are restaurants around Stuttgart that look just as stunning, but after spending the past few weeks in German pubs and at outdoor festivals, it was nice to be enveloped in such a lovely atmosphere for dining.
We arrived shortly after opening around 6 pm, and there were only two other tables seated. A waitress greeted us right away, and directed us to a quiet table for two against the window. To start, I decided to try one of their cocktails: the Floating Market (Mekong [Thai] Whiskey, almond syrup, Curacao, pineapple juice, and lime juice). To my surprise, the drink came out in a tall hurricane glass filled with crushed ice. In my experience, crushed ice can be somewhat rare in Stuttgart, and so I was thrilled to be drinking something so "exotic". It even had an orchid on the top. Sweet and tropical, the drink was an appropriate beginning to the meal to come. Although, I have to say, that at 9,50€ per drink, it wasn't something I could drink more than one of.
All of the fried tempura appetizers looked rather enticing, but we decided instead to go for the Tuna Tartare. (I should make a quick note that the menu is mostly Thai with some Japanese dishes, most notably gyoza on the appetizer list and a sushi platter for a main, though that's about it. The menu is otherwise all Thai.) The Tuna Tartare ended up being my favorite dish of the evening. It was served in a carefully crafted round with minced cucumbers, onions, and chilies and topped with a raw egg yolk for mixing. I've adored tartare in this fashion ever since having beef tartare with a raw quail egg yolk in Prague. The tuna was especially fresh, which is hard to find in landlocked Stuttgart, and the buttery flavor was a perfect start to our meal.
After cocktails and appetizers, I ordered a glass Muskateller wine. I first became acquainted with the muscat grape as an aperitif when I studied abroad in France. There it was served almost sickly sweet, and I loved it, though it was definitely not a dinner kind of wine. Here I find Muskateller to be much less sweet, depending on how the wine is produced, though the hint of sweetness in my dry dinner wine made a nice contrast to the very spicy dish that I ordered. Matt, on the other hand, began the night with a Schönbuch Hefeweizen and switched to a Schönbuch Pale Ale. This local brewery makes some delicious beers, and Matt was very excited to see it served in a restaurant apart from their brewery.
Our entrées came out not a minute later, served in light-green glazed fish-shaped platters. I opted for the Seafood Padd Dschaa, a spicy dish with shrimp, scallops, ginger, galangal, kaffir leaves, garlic and chili. The menu did warn me that the dish would be hot, but I was nonetheless surprised to have my eyes watering and nose running so much. The sauce was very light, though a bit oily, and there was a nice mix of green beans, bamboo, red pepper, green peppercorns, and Thai eggplants -- yum! I'm admittedly a little more used to American Thai dishes with coconut curry sauces that are a bit thicker, but I very much enjoyed this dish as a change of pace.
For his main, Matt got the Bedd Pad Bai Gra Pau, a dish with duck slices sautéed with fresh chili, Thai basil, green beans, and bamboo sprouts. The duck was surprisingly tender, and the sauce, though also listed as spicy, wasn't as hot as mine. (I'd also like to take this moment to say how much I love going out together because it means I get to try twice the food!) We had a bowl of rice to share, which was just enough for us to finish up our meal. Another plus about the light sauces in both dishes was that I felt like I got to enjoy the main dish more, while the rice was only an accompaniment to diffuse the heat. In the States, I tended to enjoy my rice soaked in a rich red coconut sauce, which can be good, too, though a little overwhelming for the main meats in the dish.
Though we were both quite full afterwards and despite the fact that we rarely order dessert these days, we decided to try one of their enticing banana desserts. The first one that caught our eyes and that we ordered was the Gluei Buodd Dschi, a bowl of banana slices in warm coconut milk with palm sugar and a pinch of salt. Just as the menu listed, the bananas were lightly sweet and salty -- und sehr lecker (and very delicious)!
With our meal finally complete, it was time to pay the bill. We asked our waitress for the check, and she promptly brought it to our table in a lovely brown box. It was a little pricy, so we produced our EC card and asked to pay, when, to our dismay, we were told that the credit card machine was down for the night. Of course I was kicking myself a bit since we were wondering if we should pick up cash on the way to dinner (perhaps I'll learn someday). No matter, though, as there was a Rewe-City around the corner. Matt just had to run out to the ATM while I finished my wine. This minor inconvenience aside, the meal really had been quite good and the service was excellent. Of course we were one of maybe five tables at their busiest, but still, the waitresses at Kanjana were attentive and polite, and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal.
Kanjana is located just off of Olgastraße in Mozartplatz. They are open for lunch from 12-2:30 pm and for dinner from 6-11 pm. I hear from a friend that their lunch menu is also very yummy and quite affordable. Let me know what you think if you try it!