When a Bangkok local makes a point of urging you towards an out-of-the-way restaurant with the delectable promise of good food, take heed: opportunity is seldom a lengthy visitor. So it was that I found myself traveling down a winding alley to the fortuitous gates of Gedhawa, a homey establishment specializing in the subtle, herb-fragrancedÂ plates of Northern Thailand. Decorated in silk lanterns, rough-hewn wooden tables, and all manner of mid-century pop culture ephemera, it could easily come off as kitschyÂ in less skilled hands. Yet when you’re escorted to table byÂ a kindly older woman who could easily pass as your grandmother – if your grandmother was Thai, that is – the illusion suddenly becomes clear: you’re in an idealized version of someone’s home, so get ready for home-cookin’ Thai style. The accordion-style menu proved exhaustive – and exhausting; after all, there’s only so much one can reasonably eat, despite the temptation – and eyes ten times larger than my stomach. In the end I settled on a couple of favorites,Â mixing in a few adventuresomeÂ unknowns: sai oua, a spicy pork sausage fragrant with lemongrass and galangal; coconut-flecked shrimp, crunchy, sweetÂ andÂ irresistible when dipped into a sauce of palm sugar, vinegar and chili; green papaya salad – a masochistic addiction of sweet meets heat – was practically combustible; wrap-it-yourself pork larb redolent with spices and fresh mint; pad thai, simple and elegant, with just enough unexpected fire to make it interesting. I couldn’t have planned a better meal for my Â last night in Bangkok if I tried. And a good thing I didn’t.