Transplanted Thai chef turns out savory dishes Decor enhances dining at Bangkok Kitchen

January 08, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Along the strip of bars, liquor stores, a tattoo parlor and an adult video store on Route 175 just across from Fort Meade, Bangkok Kitchen is easily overlooked.

But don't miss this gastronomically titillating, yet inexpensive restaurant.

Bangkok Kitchen is one of the best Thai restaurants I've eaten at -- which says a lot because I'm Asian. Like, from Asia. Near Thailand, even.

The restaurant has been around for only two years, but its chef has been serving up savory Thai dishes for almost 40 years -- 30 of them in the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok, according to one of the Bangkok Kitchen's owners.

One warning: Many dishes are incredibly spicy and could leave your tongue tingly for the rest of the evening, so if you don't enjoy spiciness, ask to have your meal toned down.

My dining companion and I arrived just before 9 p.m. on a Friday and were instantly thrilled with its warm, pink walls filled with Thai paintings and carvings. The wooden Thai figurines playing musical instruments attached to the walls at eye level also were a treat.

We began our meal with No. 5 -- Yum Ped Yang ($5.95) -- honey-roasted duck tossed with fresh vegetables and sweet-and-sour sauce. The duck chunks were thick and tender, and the vegetables seemed well-marinated in the spicy sauce.

We also tried No. 9 -- Tiger Cried ($5.95) -- charbroiled beef served with spicy house sauce. This was excellent. The thin slices of beef were tender, done just right and tasty in themselves. But the dip -- a mix of lime juice, chili powder, ground sticky rice, lemon grass and other herbs -- was outstanding. It was spicy -- of course -- tangy and literally mouth-watering.

Another interesting appetizer, which I've had on another visit, is No. S4 -- Papaya Salad ($5.95) -- which is a great mix of shredded green papaya and carrots tossed in a spicy, chili salad dressing.

For entrees, we split No. 24, Ka-Pow Chicken ($7.95), and No. 45, Gaeng Jae ($5.95), mixed vegetables and tofu cooked in traditional green curry. The chicken dish offered up a mound of delicious morsels of chicken sauteed with chili, garlic and basil leaves.

The curry dish, touted in the menu as "so distinctive you won't miss the meat," was just that. The bowl was full of fried tofu, carrots, bamboo shoots and lettuce, and the creamy curry was bursting with taste but not too spicy.

At the end of all that, we were stuffed but still feeling greedy, so we split a dessert -- Black Sweet Rice with Young Coconut ($2). This was a delicious, warm pudding made of chewy, glutinous rice drenched in sweet coconut milk. It also came with slivers of juicy coconut.

L We devoured the dessert in seconds and vowed to be regulars.

The check came to $36.80, including an iced coffee and two beers. Try the Thai beer, Singha. It's not much different from a Rolling Rock, but this is a Thai restaurant. Live a little.

Bangkok Kitchen

Where: 1696 Annapolis Road, Odenton, 410-674-6812

Hours: Dinner, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; lunch, 11: 30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Prices: Appetizers, $3.95-$6.95; entrees, $5.95-$12.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Rating: ***1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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