What is a Lanna Khantoke dinner?

Khantoke dinner with Lanna dance performances

Khantoke dinner

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What is a Khantoke dinner?

Kanthoke (khmn-tohk) dinners are a cultural event of the Chiang Mai region. They are meals with entertainment: those partaking sit on the ground to eat, whilst traditional dances are performed. The food is served in little bowls (kn) at low round tables (tohk).

In the past many northern Thai families ate their meals like this, but it was only in the mid-twentieth century that a Khantoke dinner with entertainment took place. In 1953 Professor Kraisi Nimanhemin of Chiang Mai University, with the help of the Faculty of Art, organised a grand dinner of traditional Thai cuisine, accompanied by dances, as a farewell to two of his friends who were leaving for Bangkok (the American consul and a judiciary official who would later be Minister of Justice). In the light of the success of the event. Kraisi organised two more banquets, one the same year, then a second in 1956, to celebrate the arrival of important persons. In 1972 a private organisation, the Chiang Mai Cultural Centre, was set up to promote this new regional “custom” among hotels, restaurants and travel agents.

In the ’80s and ’90s new establishments have opened which offer dinners with entertainment of this type. It is a pleasant and informative way to get to know northern Thai cuisine and Thai dances.

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