Sunday, February 13, 2011

Khan Toke Dinner

This a Khan Toke (ขันโตก), a small raised table,  indigenous to areas in Northern Thailand and Laos, where sticky rice is mostly consumed. The name is derived from kan, or bowl, and toke, a low table made of woven bamboo (or sometimes from wood, coconut shell or rattan). I think they're customarily painted red.

Even though there are a few dishes traditionally served on a khan toke, any type is acceptable. However, it should always include sticky rice in a woven basket...this was ours. The rice is just out of frame. More than enough food for two, although, the staff are more than happy to refill the bowls throughout the evening.
In recent years the Khan toke dinner, combined with live traditional dancing, has become a popular tourist experience around Chiang Mai...this was my second. Anyway, that's the food part out of the way, bring on the dancers!
The fingernail dance - (faawn lep ฟ้อนเล็บ)
The Shan dance
The silk reeling dance...maybe!
Unfortunately JJ took off back to Oz, with the English information sheet, leaving me only with the Thai script version, so I'm hoping I've identified the dances correctly. Seven dances, out of a possible 12, are performed in the courtyard area, where you have the choice of dining on the floor with cushions or at tables. The floor looked comfortable enough, but we chose to sit at a table, which had nothing to do with aging knees and sore backs...it's just that those pillows looked like they might be a little too inviting, after a few Sang Soms.

The hill tribe show is held in a separate theatre, only a short walk away. Personally I enjoyed this part of the night, the most. A myriad of vibrant costumes, traditional instruments with a dash of humour thrown in.
Rice winnowing dance
Even the kids get into the act, demonstrating a version of Lao kratob mai (literally: Lao wood effect - ลาวกระทบไม้)

There are actually two different dances in a King Kala performance, the ram nok (bird dance) and the ram toh (lion dance). The dance, which is unique to the Tai Yai people from Shan, is executed by a graceful mythical half bird, half women or Kinnari (กินรี) and a creature with the head of a goat, antelope or deer....whatever he is, he's a real scallywag. Originally, the King Kala signified the end of the holy month and welcomed Lord Buddha back to earth, after his visit to heaven. Enjoy!

Kids will be kids...nothing like getting a fit of the giggles, mid performance.

And probably my favourite, the Victory Drum Dance...sorry about the view from the rear...and the pole.

You can experience a Khan Toke dinner and show at a few different venues, but this one was at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

5 comments:

Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

one of these days i will have to do this. your pictures are convincing me that i need to!

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Lani it's a nice night out for visitors or for a special occasion. At 400 Baht, pretty good value too!

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, I've never been to a Khan Toke dinner. And sorry to say that it's been so long since I did anything traditional in the north of Thailand, I don't even remember exactly what we saw.

Theodora said... Best Blogger Tips

Whenever I see hill tribes, I always think of Apocalypse Now. Missing sticky rice & eating with my fingers, though...

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Catherine, it's a fun night out. We did a similar night in BKK, on a dinner cruise the first time around.

Theodora, Apocalypse Now...I know I should have, but I haven't seen it. I'm curious now! Sticky rice is good finger food too, isn't it. Dipped into just about any type of sauce...yum!