Where folks go to get good Thai food


October 01, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In Thailand, boats ply canals to bring sticky rice and pad Thai to the hungry masses.

In Baltimore, the masses must take themselves down concrete rivers such as Ritchie Highway to find good Thai food.

Squeezed in one of the approximately 42,000 strip malls that line Ritchie Highway between Baltimore and Annapolis, Bangkok Oriental in Pasadena has earned a deserved reputation as one of the area's best Thai restaurants.

The small carryout's waiting area features a wicker chair and a couch, many elephants of various sizes, and models of those floating markets still operating in Thailand. There were also some beautiful silk shirts from Thailand on sale - $24.95 each.

Service was friendly and reasonably quick. We went heavy on the appetizers, which turned out to be a sound strategy. Excellent spring rolls (two for $3.75) had small shrimp with rice noodles, wrapped in a flaky crust. The House Tidbits for Two ($8.75) included three tasty fried items: "candy," shrimp toast and "pinkys" in a blanket. The candy turned out to be bow-tie-shaped dough, stuffed with ground meat and deep-fried - kind of a small samosa. The shrimp toast was a puffy version of an old favorite, with a ground-shrimp filling and accompanied by a sweet and tangy sauce. Pinkys were essentially fried shrimp.

For a not-so-fried appetizer, consider the grilled sampler ($9.25), which featured expertly grilled marinated chicken satays, meaty shrimp and thin slices of beef.

Despite the personally appealing name, we weren't crazy about tom yum ($3.95), a lemon-grass broth that had too much oil and too few shrimp. A red Thai shrimp curry ($13.95) had loads of green peppers and a touch of fiery hot sauce.

We tried both of the desserts on the menu. Mango slices with sticky rice ($2.50) featured not-so-ripe mango - perhaps a consequence of the restaurant's having been closed for several days by Isabel. But coconut custard ($2.50) was divine - something like a really good creme brulee with a lovely trace of coconut.

Bangkok Oriental

Food: ***

Service: ***

Waiting area: ** 1/2

Parking: ***

Where: 8043-F Ritchie Highway, Pasadena

Phone: 410-766-0973

Web site: www.theareasbest.com/bangkok/

Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m. Saturday; dinner: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: Thai, with some Chinese, soups, appetizers and entrees, from $1.75 to $19.95; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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