Mar 08, 2019

Bangkok House 

By Lori Draz

Bangkok House Eatontown new jersey

In a month that features so much Irish fare, we decided to travel halfway around the world, via Eatontown, to sample the exotic tastes of Thailand at the Bangkok House.

It really did feel like we had left Monmouth County. This place is the most authentic Thai restaurant I have visited in a long while. The staff is friendly, and even the people who arrived near closing time were given cheerful service. While the food is on par with a fine restaurant, you can come casual, and there’s room for larger groups too. When you open the doors at Bangkok House, it’s a visual explosion of Thai art and novelties. The menu is a large, swirling book of dishes you can’t pronounce with explanations that require visualization. With all that stimulation, I had a hard time focusing, but soon we made our choices and were off to begin a meal I can still taste.

We began with three appetizers. The seafood Dim Sum contained shrimp dumplings with a spicy soy sauce. Our second choice was the Pohpia Koong, which are long, cigar-shaped, deep-fried spring rolls filled with shrimp and served with a sweet and sour sauce. They were whisper-thin, delicately fried and not at all greasy. Our third was the Tod Mun Koong, deep-fried and marinated, minced shrimp cakes with plum sauce. Each was just wonderful, so when you choose, think of the textures you might enjoy because the taste is definitely there.

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Bangkok House does offer soups, including the traditional Tom Kha Gai which has sliced chicken in coconut milk with lemon juice and Thai herbs, which I had on a previous visit. The soups are truly terrific and well-balanced, but do ask about the heat level as they can run on the hot side.

Now for the entrées. Diner one selected the Pad See-Ew (Gai Moo Nua Koong) which is a stir fry dish with Chinese broccoli, egg and mixed vegetables in a brown sauce. It was beautiful to look at and a satisfying choice. It’s also a good selection for those looking to dip their toes into Thai cuisine. She had hers with shrimp, which were nicely cooked, and she found the heat just right. By the way, you can have them turn the heat up or down, depending on your preferences.

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Diner two chose the Pla Paneang which is a deep-fried basa fish filet with paneang red curry, coconut milk and mixed vegetables, with steamed jasmine rice. The dish is spicy to begin with, and he instructed the chef to kick it up a notch. It was hot stuff but not overpowering, and the fish, in its crunchy shell, was moist and picture-perfect. He is an experienced Thai guy and shared he was quite impressed with the combination of flavors in this and all the other dishes.

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I tried a curry dish call Kaeng Masaman (Gai nua) which is your choice of sliced beef or chicken in coconut milk with onions, potatoes and peanuts. I am not nearly as brave as diner two, so I opted for mildest curry, the masaman, and it still had a perky kick. I chose beef, and I really loved this dish as the warmth of the curry rested gently on the soft coconut milk. It hit every note without being too bold – a great pick.

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We had a serving of chicken fried rice on the side which comes wearing a fried egg topper. Anything with an egg on top is a home run, and this mild side dish gave our taste buds a little cool down.

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Time for the desserts. We tried two traditional selections, both similar in presentation but with refreshingly different tastes. The first was a banana – a very popular ingredient – in a crispy spring roll, with a creamy dipping sauce. It’s big enough to share. The second was a spring roll filled with jackfruit, which tasted like mango, and is served with sweet red beans. The banana is not too sweet, actually tasting more like a plantain, while the jackfruit has a brighter citrus spirit. It’s up to your tastes. We also got a bowl of green tea ice cream. They have coconut too. The ice cream was very good and is a safer bet if you’ve exhausted yourself on this exotic journey. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the coffee. There are about five deep stairs to enter, so move carefully, especially if you have mobility issues. It’s BYOB, but we were told beer and wine only. We brought some Belgian beer which was a fantastic paring with the sizzling selections, so we recommend you try that!

Cost – Low to moderate

What we liked – The masterful chef and the sweet service, the elaborate and authentic décor, right down to the embroidered menus, the well-tamed blend of flavors.

What could be better – A restaurant this authentic seems a little out of place in its busy Route 35 location. Maybe a few more beginner dishes and some kids choices too.

We give it 4 and three quarter J’s 

Bangkok House is located at 26 NJ-35 in Eatontown. 732-389-3890. Bangkok House is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm; Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 10pm, Sunday 4:30 to 9 pm. Closed Tuesday.