Don't Thai Me Down, Babe

Who put the bang back in Bangkok?

Keep eating. I couldn't live with myself if you didn't order the entrée-sized bowl of kew nam ($9.95). You'll find this chicken-broth-based soup listed under "Noodles" because of the homemade wontons, portly pasta pockets stuffed with minced, seasoned chicken and shrimp. There's a bunch of other stuff floating around in this amazing microenvironment too: thinly sliced barbecued pork with a savory red rim; extra-tender gefilte fish balls with a subtle, fusty fragrance like cold well water; chopped greens; and lacy squiggles of scallions. You couldn't dream up a friskier combination of flavors and textures. Mrs. K had set down a tray of baby-sized blue-and-white porcelain pots filled with aromatics: These we added to suit — pickled jalapeños, red chili powder, garlic, and lime sauce.

"I'm going to order this soup every time I come here," my spouse announced, handing me back my empty bowl. But giddy, fickle child that she is, she was already on to the next thing. Those aromatics worked fine, she discovered, with a deeply crimson concoction of curly squid in samrod chili sauce ($13.95) served with jasmine rice — fat, finger-sized whorls of calamari cooked just tender and doused in a bath that was a bit too sweet for me but evidently manna for the candy-challenged. Lad na ($10.95) turned out to be the ultimate Thai noodle dish; it's made with the traditional wide, soft rice pasta ribbons paired with chunks of chicken (or beef or pork); leafy, luridly vegetal Chinese broccoli (wan shen, sort of like kale); and a thick brown gravy that unveils layers and layers of flavor — from fermented sweet soy and black beans to fish sauce.

From a list of house specialties that included Bangkok roast duck, egg-batter-dipped frog legs, baked seafood curry, and sizzling grouper, Kasinpila, when we could pin her down, revealed that Gulf of Siam (seafood clay pot, $17.95) was maybe the dish she liked best. This was like asking a mother to pick her favorite kid; we had a feeling that anybody's favorite was always the one right there in front of them. Bring it on! we cried. We were verily tempted by the goong ob woonsen also — steamed shrimp with bean thread noodles, bacon, and ginger. But enough is enough.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

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Bangkok Palace

4345 N. State Road 7
Lauderhill, FL 33319

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Lauderhill

Details

Bangkok Palace, 4345 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderdale Lakes. Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. till 2 p.m., dinner 5 till 9:30 p.m. Saturday noon till 9:30 p.m. Call 954-733-0069.

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BTW — BYOB. The Kasinpilas don't have a beer and wine license, but if you show up with your grape juice of choice, they'll be happy to pour it for you. Anyway, the lemonade they serve, or alternately, a mix of iced tea and lemonade, is very refreshing with these peppery/sour dishes, dousing the flames when you need it.

Briny, warm, and invigorating, Gulf of Siam clay pot ($17.95) is like one of those circus acts where a toy car pulls up and dozens of clowns unload. There are big, fresh mussels in their lucent green shells... and jumbo shrimp... and nice fat sea scallops... and a whole bunch of calamari. You keep eating and eating, and the vessel never empties. You dig around in the brown sauce, inhaling the cinnamon-y scent of basil and the slightly soapy notes of cilantro, your head tingles from the red chili paste, and you can't resist adding a spoonful of something or another from the baby porcelain pots. In fact, this magic brew is a kind of metaphor for Bangkok Palace and the people who run it: generous, warm, varied, vivid, unexpected, and such a kick, gastronomically speaking, that you want to do backflips across the room. Just don't try it on a full stomach.

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