THE PLACE: I had my first taste of Thai food at Bangkok Cuisine on Mount Rose Street many years ago. And, just as baby geese imprint at first sight on momma goose, I imprinted on Bangkok’s delicious chicken yellow curry, spicy basil beef and savory-sweet pad Thai.
I’ve since had Thai food from one end of the country to the other, but Bangkok remains the equivalent of mom’s home cooking, the standard by which they all are judged. So, I was pretty darn excited when Bangkok opened another location down south, in the Super 8 Meadow Wood Courtyard across South Virginia Street from Meadowood Mall.
THE LOOK: Formerly a Tony Roma’s barbecue, the space is open, clean and airy, with “lucky bamboo” (actually, it’s a dracaena) on every table and touches of Thai culture in the decor.
Business is bustling during weekday lunch hours, quieter and more relaxed at dinner and on the weekends.
THE MEAL: My teenage companion orders the pad Thai with tofu, I get the basil beef, and we go sharesies. Not adventurous choices, but comfortingly familiar and consistently good. The noodle dish is terrific — not heavy and greasy as it can be at other places, but light and redolent of peanuts, snappy bean sprouts and Thai spices. The tofu is fried to perfection, crisp on the outside, spongy on the inside.
I order the basil beef mild — you can get it customized to your heat tolerance — and wish I’d kicked it up a notch. The beef is meltingly tender, accompanied by onions, red and green peppers and fresh basil in a tangy sauce.
KUDOS: The trifecta: attentive service, delicious food, convenient location.
QUIBBLES: Noise can drift in from the lounge on the other side of the entrance. It’s not usually an issue during lunch, but it can get a little boisterous during the later hours.
ALTERNATIVES: Admittedly, I have a list of about a half-dozen favorites I revisit over and over again, so I haven’t tried the full complement of menu items. They’re the equivalent of mom’s tuna casserole, not whiz-bang exciting but delicious every time.
The chicken yellow curry, in a coconut milk sauce that I would swim in if I could, comes with a slice of Thai flatbread and a small cucumber salad to cleanse the palate. The thom kha gai, a soup with chicken in coconut milk, lemongrass and mushrooms, can be an appetizer or meal in itself.
Chicken cashew salad is a flavorful mixture of chicken, lettuce, peppers, onions, carrots and other fresh veggies and cashews in a house vinaigrette. It’s a good choice when you’re up for something less filling.
RETURN TRIP?: You can go home again, and I will do so to Bangkok Cuisine, many, many times.