Our Rating  

Bangkok Thai
671 Congress Street

Three and 1/2 plates  
Bangkok Thai Reviewed: Winter, 2000
NOTE: Bangkok Thai has expanded since this review and now has a full bar

Looking in from the outside, Bangkok Thai doesn't look all that intriguing with it's simple décor, fairly bright lighting and typically empty tables, which is probably why it took us so long to try the restaurant. But we were in the mood for a quick dinner the other night, happened to be passing by and were lured in by the tempting dishes on the menu posted outside the door. We had a great dinner at Bangkok Thai and found our new favorite take out restaurant.

Not too long ago, in the same space, the small restaurant Thai Spice closed its doors, made a few minor changes, and reopened under new ownership and management as Bangkok Thai. This included the addition of a television for diners' viewing enjoyment and some improved decorative changes. A wicker screen stands to your left as you enter Bangkok Thai forming somewhat of a hallway and definite division between the entranceway and dining room. The very nice waiter/host guided us towards one of the ten or so tables, only a few of which were occupied. The restaurant seats about twenty five patrons at several tables for two or four and a counter along the window facing out onto Congress Street equipped with four stools. The tables can be easily rearranged for larger parties. There is a portable coat rack to the right as you walk in if you choose to hang your coat.

Our waiter, the only one working for the restaurant, brought us glasses of water and menus immediately upon seating us. My friend had already decided what he wanted from reading the menu outside but it took me a while to come to a decision. The menu is filled with mainly traditional Thai dishes including Noodle, Fried Rice, Curry, Chicken, Beef, Seafood and House dishes and a few Chinese, Japanese, and American items dispersed such as Lo Mein, stir fried soft egg noodles with bean sprouts, onion, water chestnuts and B.B.Q. Pork ($5.25), Vegetable Tempura, lightly battered mixed vegetables, deep fried and served with plum sauce ($3.95), Cobb Salad, grilled chicken, garden salad, avocado and black olives, served with blue cheese dressing ($5.25) and Fried Calamari, lightly battered calamari, deep fried and served with house sauce ($4.25). We decided to go for an appetizer and after considering the various soup selections including Tom Yum Soup, hot and sour with shrimp, mushrooms, lime juice, lemon grass, lime leaves and chili paste ($1.95), and Bangkok Noodle Soup, chicken and shrimp broth soup with bean sprout ($4.95) and the likes of the Bangkok Dumplings, ground pork and crabmeat wrapped with wonton skin and served with house sauce (5 for $3.95) and Chicken or Beef Satay, skewed tender strips of beef or chicken, marinated in herbs and spices, charbroiled and served with curried peanut sauce and cucumber salad (4 for $4.25), we decided to just split an order of Vegetarian Spring Rolls, deep fried stuffed rolls with vegetables, served with plum sauce (4 for $3.95). It took a while for our waiter to come back and take our order but he was very busy trying to wait on four or five parties in-house as well as the many take-out customers that were coming in and out throughout the duration of our visit.

Our waiter finally got a break during which he took three tables worth of dinner orders and ran them to the kitchen. As I watched him leave, I wondered if he was also the cook for the evening, but when he opened the door to the back kitchen area, I heard the voices of at least two children and another adult. That thankfully explained the two Pokemon and cartoon "greetings" bear balloons floating near the cash register which, at first sight, I thought was quite an odd choice of decoration. As we waited for our orders, we watched some CNN on the television, got the latest news on the Presidential recount and got to see RSN's New England skiing report. Next to us, a single diner enjoyed some post dinner coffee while he watched the television and I thought that this would be a perfect place for a solo meal. A take-out customer breezed in to pick up his Thai meal with which he requested some soy sauce. The considerate host apologized, saying they unfortunately had no soy sauce, but that he would be sure to order some for next week. The customer, a bit disappointed, realized and expressed to the host that most likely his Thai food would taste better without the soy sauce and the host humbly agreed. I thought this was a great example of "the customer's always right" philosophy and handled extremely well by the wonderful host!

All three tables' orders came up at the same time, which our waiter delivered to us hot and fresh from the kitchen. Our spring rolls came slightly before our entrees. We didn't receive any plates on which to enjoy our spring rolls but we were able to make due. The four crispy fried rolls were full of delicious cabbage, cellophane noodles, and shredded carrots and they were served with thin sweet and sour sauce for dipping. They were quite hot at first, we had to let them sit a while, but we had no problem polishing them off. I was glad there were only four, it was the perfect size appetizer to split, leaving plenty of room for our enormous plates of food that arrived shortly after. Had there been more, I'm sure we would have devoured them all, they were so good.

Our dinners were great too. I would say that this was slightly Americanized Thai food, but we both loved it. My friend had chosen from the extensive list of vegetarian items, the Cashew Nut Tofu, stir fried tofu with cashewnut, cabbage, onion and celery ($5.50). All the dinners are served with white rice, except for dishes already primarily composed of rice or noodles, which comes in a perfectly molded hemisphere, reminiscent of public school lunches, only tasting much better. The cashewnut tofu was a medley of the vegetables, tofu and huge unsalted cashews all mixed in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce. My friend had intended to order extra spice in his meal but forgot, although we did overhear others ordering by the star table at the end of the menu. More stars being equivalent to more heat. Although I had been very tempted by the Bangkok Chicken with Peanuts, medallions of chicken stir fried with garlic, crushed pepper, scallions, seasoning and bell pepper ($6.75) and the traditional Pud Thai dish, stir fried rice noodles with shrimp, chicken, egg, bean sprouts, scallions and crushed peanuts ($5.25), I ordered the Rama Chicken, chicken on a bed of fresh lettuce, topped with homemade curried peanut sauce, cashew nuts and pineapple ($5.75). This turned out to be a great combination, hitting the spot just right. Fresh chunks of crispy cold iceberg lettuce served as a base for the thin slices of white meat chicken and giant fresh cashews. This was all covered in a very generous blanket of flavorful light peanut sauce, not too rich as some peanut sauces can be overpowered by thick nutty flavor. To the side of my chicken several chunks of cold canned sweetened pineapple served as a great counterpart along with my pile of fluffy white rice. It was by no means a gourmet dish, but I had no problem finishing every bite, it was very good

wheelchair accessible
vegetarian selections
vegan selections  
most credit cards accepted
We both thought that the food was very fresh and the presentation very clean and neat. I will definitely return again to Bangkok Thai, although I will most likely go the take-out route to enjoy my meal in the comfort of my home with a beer or glass of wine. The service was extremely friendly and efficient and the food, although I wouldn't really call it authentic, was perfectly delicious, and at a mere $16.25 for the two of us, left our wallets full as well as our happily satiated selves. It would be a great place to visit with a mixed audience, providing entrée selections that slightly veer from the traditional Thai dishes. back to the top

Free parking is available behind the restaurant after 5pm.


Tracy B. Wheeler is a classical flutist and freelance writer who lives in Portland.










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