I met my friend @wibia for lunch the other day at Bangkok. It’s been on my list forever, but I haven’t been able to get there and I have heard pretty good things about it. They offer a lunch buffet ($9.99), and again, even though I generally pass on buffets, I thought it might be a good way to try lots of things. I feel kind of mixed on it—I am glad I tried several things because there were several things I didn’t really care for and I would have been bummed if I had ordered a whole dish of them. There were several dishes I liked, so I think I could make a more ideal single choice on a future visit.
The thing I liked the best was probably the “Ginger lover’s pork.” It had a great ginger flavor and stood out to me from all the other things on my plate. Not sure I would order the pork with it, but I would be tempted to get the “Ginger lovers” version with chicken or shrimp (when you order the entrées on the menu, you can choose whatever protein you like, including tofu).
The green curry chicken was probably the spiciest dish, and I appreciated that considering it was a buffet and it seems like restaurants often turn down the heat under those circumstances. This one had a fair amount (although it was the only very spicy thing that I tried). It had a distinct coconut flavor and had bamboo shoots, bell pepper and basil mixed in.
The pad see ew is often one of my favorite things at Thai places and this one wasn’t bad, but a tad bland. These are wide noodles mixed with carrots, broccoli, cabbage and egg. This one was featuring tofu. I like tofu, but these bits were stir fried pretty hard and didn’t have that underlying velvety texture that I like.
The little fried things—the spring roll and crab Rangoon were good. They maintained a good crispness even after sitting on the buffet. As always, I like a bit of crunch to balance out all the other things. The tom yum (lemongrass) soup was a nice break from all the different flavors and gave you a little heat and a little brightness from the lemongrass.
There was also a stir-fried beef dish (I think it was the “Thai Spicy Basil”) that was also fine, but I am usually not a person who orders beef in stir-fry type dishes, just because it gets kind of tough.
My least favorite thing was the pad thai. This one featured chicken. Generally, I really enjoy pad thai, but this one had a very distinctive funky taste—(maybe a lot of fish sauce?) that just sort of put me off. I am glad to know that they prepare the dish this way because I would not order it as an entrée, which I might have done before trying it.
For lunch I think I would try a full entrée of the garlic lovers, or I might splurge and get the dinner entrée of sautéed “Eggplant Thailand” with bell peppers and basil. That’s a dish I often love and would be interested to try their version. Actually, the dinner menu has a lot more entrée options that sound more interesting than the more straightforward, classic Thai entrées available as lunch specials.
As for the buffet concept, I would pass on it next time. I’m glad I did it once to try several things, but honestly, it is hard for me to appreciate the nuances of all the dishes with so many flavors on my plate. Plus, we both noticed the food, while it was constantly refreshed while we were there, was not super warm. The service was extremely friendly and attentive, and the place has a nice interior—worthy of a dinner visit, unlike many smaller Thai places. They do a very good business for lunch though, which is always a good thing in a buffet-based model. I would say a majority of people were eating from it as well. My guess is it’s a welcome change for central downtown business diners.
Has anyone else been? What about at dinner? I wonder what the crowd is like with the “Jazz Bar” part of the restaurant’s name.
Bangkok Restaurant and Jazz Bar
225 East Ohio Street