Bangkok Golden, in Seven Corners, next to the great Hong Kong Palace, has a Thai Buffet. The price seems pretty good I suppose, thirteen bucks a person. But really, you’ve seen one Thai place at this point – in some sense you’ve seen it all. After all, how many ways can one make Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles? Okay, full disclosure, I did not look at the buffet, or the Thai menu. I have no doubt these folks do Thai competently. However, as the WashPo Foodie discovered, and as they have been rolling out this month – Bangkok Golden REALLY does Laotian cuisine well. The restaurant is actually run by, and the chefs at the restaurant are actually from Laos. Of course, you sell what people buy – like a Thai buffet.
But – the food they do natively – wow. We started out with shrimp cakes as an appetizer. These cakes are fried – but not cloying or dense, and it is served with a cucumber sauce that gives a nice crispy and sweet touch. It was a lovely – actually fairly subtle touch, a gentle entree into culinary waters that get much choppier – in a good way. Next, we ordered the green papaya salad. The waitress asked us if we wanted it spicy or not – I always answer this question “yes”. This time, they pushed to the edge of “spicy”, but deftly avoided getting all the way there. The salad, with green papaya, and a fairly simple dressing (soy, lime basically), was crunchy, refreshing – the papaya gave a nice tart touch. But – yes, it was hot. It was not too hot as to demolish the flavor, but some of the five or so people who read this will find the dish too hot. It’s not too hot – but yes it comes close.
Of course, all of this yammering is merely marking time before describing the star of the evening, frankly one of the best dishes I’ve had out in months – the koi pa fish. This is minced, shredded tilapia, served in ceviche form with beans, green onions, lime juice, chilis, lemongrass, onions. This dish, served with sticky rice and lettuce leaves for consumption – was frankly about as good a dish as is possible. I could eat it all day, seriously. The body of the perfectly textured fish combining with all the crunchier, elements, and thhe citrus-spicy combination of dressing lead to a really outstanding dish. Once again, some of the teeny tiny readership will not dig “raw” fish (or a ceviche which is not raw technically). I wish I could help them – because they’d realize how good this is.
Tyler Cowen gushes that this is the best Laotian he has ever had. It certainly is for me, due to lack of competition. That said, this component elevates what is on the face a bland, commodity style Thai restaurant into something that is very very special. I cannot recommend this teeny tiny culinary corner of the menu highly enough.
P.S. I saw a decent sized crowd there – though not big … and I have no doubt what the folks sitting around were ordering – they’re smart.