Bangkok Street Food is the kind of humble, authentic Thai restaurant that needs a spotlight on it every once in a while.
We reviewed it when it opened two years ago tucked into a corner of a strip mall at White Lane and Ashe Road, dwarfed by the Food 4 Less grocery store immediately west of it and were impressed then, and our opinion has only grown in a positive direction in the months since. Not fancy like Chef Choice or Blue Elephant, it's quite humble, small, family-run and easy to miss, but, if you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, you’ll be impressed by the values found on the menu and the subtle charms of the fare coming out of the kitchen.
On our most recent visit my companion selected the drunken noodles with chicken ($11) while I selected the salt and pepper pork chops ($14). The most unusual thing about my companion’s meal was that the wide rice noodles were all chopped up. Maybe someone inebriated got hold of it in the kitchen. I’ve never been able to find a straight answer as to what makes drunken noodles drunken, as there is no actual alcohol used in the cooking process, but my working theory is that it seems like something tossed together by a drunk, with so many different things mixed in (garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, basil, the protein of your choice …). I like the version here because I like the liberal use of vegetables (carrots, onions, bell peppers) and the whole creation is not too greasy, which sometimes happens.
All the salt and pepper choices (chicken, shrimp, fish and tofu are also offered) here are good because they fry it fast and crispy in a deep fryer then stir-fry it with garlic, jalapeno discs (my favorite part), green onions and seasonings that include, of course, salt and pepper but also add mysterious nuances that leave you puzzled and playing “Name that Condiment” in your brain. Almost certainly five-spice powder, which always seems intriguing. This particular dish kind of encapsulates at Bangkok what Thai food should be: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, bitter — a lot of everything. Noisy, you might say.
Here’s what else we like on the menu here:
Cream cheese wonton appetizers ($7). There was a family of eight seated next to us, and those wise parents ordered some of these with the perfect sweet and sour dipping sauce to ensure domestic tranquility. It works on all ages. If you’re more into savory than sweet that night, shoot for the happy shrimp ($10), fried wontons stuffed with shellfish.
Pork jerky appetizer ($10), deep-fried marinated pork with a tamarind sauce. Most authentic Thai restaurants are generous with tamarind. Works great, also with the crying tiger grilled beef ($15).
Spicy beef salad ($13), with onion, lemongrass, tomato, cucumber and a spicy lime dressing that should be married to beef.
Pineapple fried rice ($13) with peanuts, chicken, shrimp, raisins and curry powder. It has it all: sweet, spicy, charm. Hainan chicken over rice ($12) is a good choice if you’re a fan of ginger as is the ginger delight over rice ($11). Almost everything is served with jasmine rice, a product of Thailand, but despite all my years consuming various forms of rice I’m tone-deaf to the difference, other than a subtle variation in size. Supposedly it has a floral aroma, but I’m missing it.
It should be noted they have no draft beers but do have Sapporo, Chang and Singha available in bottles ($5), and if you do order those they bring out a chilled mug for you to pour it in. And there are seven vegetarian entrees on their menu, most made with tofu though the spicy basil eggplant ($10) is a good choice if you’re avoiding the soybean-based product.
Yes, the ambiance is Spartan, but I like the shade of green on the wall that dominates the room, and, with these prices, I don’t feel I’m paying for atmosphere. Booth seating along one wall, metal framed chairs, dark wooden tables. Pictures on the wall are small and feature Thai scenery or food on plates. And they are big on delivery here, doing it themselves or through all the usual suspects operating out there today.