#228: Bangkok Cafe

Sorry about the slacking lately, it’s just in my nature when it’s hot out ;).  Speaking of which, I will have another post tomorrow or Thursday with a little something to help beat the heat, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, dinner!  My intention for this post was to go to Monsoon Cuisine of India, however when I arrived at 5:15PM they were closed.  Yelp said they should be open, so apparently that’s wrong.  They didn’t have hours on the door and when I swung by just after 6, after my backup dinner, they were finally open.  I’ll try to figure out what the hours are when I go back.

Anyway, I switched gears and went over to the new Bangkok Cafe, located at Taylor & Roseville Pkwy, right by Islands.  This Thai restaurant took the long empty location that was once Slice: A Pizza Company.  I headed in just before 5:30.  Inside I was greeted right away by the server working the front.  It’s very casual, yet he provided full table service down to the bill, which I thought might have been a pay-at-the-register type of situation when it first arrived.  They haven’t changed too much from what Slice was.  A couple painted walls and some different tables and chairs along the windows.  A new wall separated the kitchen from the dining room.  The tall communal/group table in the middle was still there, as was the bench seating for the window side of the new tables.

He had me sit wherever I liked and I grabbed a seat at the far end where I could see everything.  My server brought me a water right away (I thought that was a no-no with the new drought rules, although I would have asked for it anyway) and asked if I needed any time to decide.  I did want to skim over everything so I ordered a Thai Tea [$2.50, though I think they forgot to charge me for it] to get started.  He quickly told me about a couple specials, one of which was pumpkin curry, then headed off for my tea.

He came back with that pretty quick.  It was quite strong and very delicious.  I did enough time to see that my favorites were on the menu, but before ordering I asked what the portion sizes were like.  The prices seemed lower than your typical Thai restaurant ($8-10 vs $10-14).  He said that one item was enough for one person.  I decided to go ahead with two and have some leftovers for tomorrow.  With that I started to order the Pad-See-Eew [$8].  He immediately recommended the Pad-Keemaow [$8] instead, saying it was good if I liked it spicy and that the Pad-Se-Eew was similar to Chinese chow fun.  Despite pad-se-eew being my favorite dish I was strangely compelled to try his suggestion.  This has rice noodles stirred fried with oyster and soy sauces, minced chicken, bell peppers, onions, fresh chili, and sweet basil leaves.  The pad-se-eew is similar but with broccoli and egg and minus the peppers, onions, chili and basil leaves.  I got this with chicken and medium heat.  The 2nd pick was the pumpkin curry special.  I only knew that the base was red curry.  This was $8, like the other curries.

The pad-keemaow arrived within about 5 minutes, well ahead of the curry which was another 4 minutes out.  Indeed it was enough for one person, perhaps slightly smaller than a normal Thai joint’s portion size.  I dug into the slippery noodles and was immediately punched in the mouth with spice.  I was very much taken aback at first, no way do they think that medium level should be like this.  While the entire dish was quite spicy, however, it turned out that I might have just hit a particularly intense spot with my first bite, because it was not that hot from then on out.  I would put it at a 6-7 of 10.  Aside from the heat, of which it was quite hot temp-wise as well, these noodles were great.  All of them were done right and darkened by the rich soy and oyster sauces.  To be honest I couldn’t tell what the oyster sauce added, it seemed pretty similar to the soy sauce-only pad-se-eew.  Different, however, was the texture and intermittent additional flavors from different bites with bell peppers onions and/or basil in them.  I felt that this dish had a bit more variety in flavors and textures than pad-se-eew, and I think it might even unseat it as my favorite Thai dish.  I’ll have to try it out at some other places to be sure, but this was fantastic.

The curry was pretty basic red curry, which isn’t to say not good.  In fact it was quite tasty.  I didn’t know what to think of the pumpkin showing a bit of green on the edges, but it tasted great and was stewed down to a uniform softness.  The rest of this was made of of bell peppers and big slices of pork, all steeped in the flavorful, yet smooth, red curry-flavored coconut milk.  I’m excited to crack open the leftovers tomorrow already.

I’m very happy to have tried this little cafe.  As much as I love Thai food it’s not always a convenient lunch or dinner option just due to the portions it almost always comes in, and the price that comes with those portions.  This place offers a slightly smaller portion with a comparable reduction in price that makes it a much more attractive option when you just want to grab a quick bite by yourself.  My server was incredibly friendly and perfectly attentive.  I really hope they do well here.