Taste is Thai without zip

TAKEOUT

December 10, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Located on the outskirts of Columbia, Bangkok Delight has been in business for 17 years, so it's doing a lot of things right.

Inside, the restaurant is handsome enough. Service was friendly and prompt, although the canned music was unnecessary. And the food itself seemed a bit canned and mostly devoid of that irresistible zip and complexity that makes Thai food stand out.

We started with several appetizers; none was particularly memorable. The spring rolls ($3.50) were undistinguished. Spicy seafood salad ($6.50) sounded wonderful on the menu - like an Asian ceviche with seafood, lime juice, spices, pepper and onions. Unfortunately, the dish lacked any pop.

The chicken satay ($5.75) could have passed for chicken fingers. The meat came with a nice cucumber dressing. Finally, lemon-grass soup with chicken ($3.50) brought together pieces of chicken and mushrooms in a brown broth. However, the familiar sharp lemon flavor was offset by an overbearing sweetness.

Our entrees were a notch above the appetizers. Pad Thai ($8) has always been one of our house favorites, and the Bangkok Delight version (with pork added) was a winner: rice noodles stir-fried with strips of meat and onions in a peanut-flavored sauce. This version avoided the trap of being too thick and cloying.

We also tried one of the 11 curries on the menu: Malay brown curry ($8), which came with strips of beef, vegetables and potato chunks in a dark sauce with a zingy peppery flavor that sneaked up on us as we ate.

We sampled two of Bangkok Delight's desserts. Deep-fried bananas ($3.50) were sweet and good, and we almost forgot that bananas can be good for you as we wolfed them down. Mangos and sticky rice ($3.99) brought together a sculpted mound of sweet rice that looked like a pincushion and several slices of fresh mango.

There's plenty of parking out front; the restaurant is close to state Route 100 and a short drive away from Interstate 95.

Bangkok Delight

Food: ** 1/2

Service: ***

Waiting area: ***

Parking: *** 1/2

Where: 8825 Centre Park Drive, Columbia

Phone: 410-730-0032

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Thai appetizers, entrees $3 to $14.95; credit cards accepted

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

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