There are always those few places you’ve known for a good while, but only in foreshortened perspective. You might have had a few takeaways, you might even be no stranger to dropping in for a quick lunch; but you’ve never really got to grips with what is admittedly a substantial number of options- over 50. So it was long overdue that I rectify that with a trip to Bangkok Café and have a more leisurely stroll around the menu. Ten of us, with a strict ‘share and share alike’ policy (thumbscrews optional) should do it, I reckon…
Starters came thick and fast.
These wraps (bor bia sot) were a popular choice and well-liked. The silky dough of the wrapper with a crisp snap of vegetables, backed up with the twang of fresh mint, made these a surprisingly light but tasty introduction.
The mussels (hoi maang boo ob) carried that unmistakable fragrance of lemongrass and the hit of lime in a light broth that had that characteristic Thai perkiness. Pork ribs- see kron moo tord- were excellent- tender as you like, and I’d have happily foregone a main course to get intimately acquainted with a bucket of these. Just me, you understand, and some quiet time.
That sharing agreement was looking a lot less attractive when these arrived.
The classic chicken satay did what it is supposed to do: this is streetfood in its purest form. The thick peanut sauce was rich and warming, though the toast seemed a little redundant in this context.
Sausages- naem -were noticeably pale, save for the marks of the grill- the unexpected pallid pink of a raw banger, but any suspicion of limpness was quickly undone by the coarse texture and the slices of red chilli, seeds and all, lurking within to trap the unwary. A potent sideswipe of garlic too, belying its unassuming appearance. The accompanying sauce was no shrinking violet, either, packing a punch most found overwhelming.
The soup (dom kar kapport) was a triumph: rich coconut cream with baby vegetables and lemongrass. This is the dish I immediately knew I’d come back for. Eaten at midday it would be tasty: eaten at night, with a chill in the air, it comes into its own and becomes a bowlful of everything you’d want on a winter evening, and something you’d crave when you were next feeling under the weather or seasonally blue. Hot, spicy, sour, crunchy, sweet, creamy, comforting, fresh. A bowl to linger over and surprisingly filling.
That energising, restorative element to Thai food was to the fore in this spicy beef salad (yam ner)- full of herbs and crunch and tangy with fish sauce and limes, it packed enough of a fiery punch to have my brother in law reckoning he wouldn’t be getting any sinus problems in the near future. An adroit preparation for the mains, then.
Two creamy curries- one lamb (gang massaman gah on), one duck (gang dang bed)- were felt to be pretty much bang on the money, although I found the lamb a little overcooked to my taste, past the point of retaining any real bite. The latter brought one of us out in chilli sweats.
The duck had fire in its belly, tempered by the accompanying vegetables’ coconut dressing. A pad thai was a commendable version, with all the expected elements of this classic dish present and correct. A lovely display of crunchy, noodly goodness.
My Moo Yang (pork two ways) was a clear winner, though: a room-temperature salad with cubes of meat and stir-fried vegetables, glutinous rice and a portion of meat marinated, sliced thinly on the bias and freshly seared on the bars of the grill. This ran the coconut soup close for the standout dish of the evening.
A sliced, crumbed breast of chicken (gai tord) divided opinion: I really enjoyed it, others weren’t so keen. It was reminscent of a Japanese katsu. The accompanying chilli sauce took no prisoners and wasn’t for the faint-hearted but as with several other dishes, was served separately for the more cautious (read: wise) among us. Happily, it divided opinion to the extent I snaffled what was left.
A whole sea bass (pla tord) was reckoned to be a nicely executed piece of cooking, the skin crisped up a treat but the flesh falling away, a potent lime and chilli dressing completing the dish with mound of fried rice and green vegetables.
A variety of mushrooms, rich with soy sauce and garlic, came with fried rice and an assortment of light vegetable tempura, was one of four available meat-free choices. Its name alone made it worth ordering: hed pat king.
A hearty mix-and-match then, and a pretty through chance to see what the menu has to offer. A convenient location, quick service, and above all some big, vibrant flavours made for a happy experience all round. Bangkok Café will serve you some pretty impressive takeaway; but you’d be doing it- and yourself- a disservice if you didn’t resolve to look a little further into what it has to offer. A bill of near-as-dammit £220, with service included, represents noticeable value for food that has this type of zip and zing in its stride. Recommended.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.