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Bangkok -Danbury Restaurant Draws Devoted Pilgrims To Authentic Cuisine



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Bangkok —

Danbury Restaurant Draws Devoted Pilgrims To Authentic Cuisine

Authentic, traditional Thai cuisine is the pride of Bangkok in Nutmeg Square on Newtown Road (Route 6) in Danbury. Connecticut’s first Thai restaurant when it opened in 1986, it is now going into its 25th year of business with the original owners, chef Taew Robinson and her husband Val Horsa, and is “better than ever,” according to Mr Horsa. Offering uncompromising quality and dedication to authenticity, Bangkok enjoys the support of a large, loyal clientele who over the years have become friends as well as patrons. Bangkok’s quality has earned it three-star ratings from The New York Times and Hartford Courant, and recommendations from Zagat’s. Bangkok also received first place in the Danbury News-Times’ 2009 Readers’ Choice Award for Asian Cuisine.

Located in an unassuming storefront just a few doors down from Stop & Shop, the elegant restaurant interior features high-backed booths lining the side walls, but the frame of them is open, reflective of bamboo. Large Thai parasols are inverted over the tables in the center of the room, which can accommodate larger parties. Posters of Thailand decorate the soothing rose-colored walls, including an original piece of artwork painted by an Asian elephant. As Asian music plays softly in the background, a waitstaff attired in traditional Thai dress serves diners.

It is the food, however, that is the primary attraction. Chef Taew Robinson was born and trained in Thailand and many of the dishes served are based on family recipes. Unlike many newer Thai restaurants, Bangkok does not serve other Asian cuisines, nor have its recipes been adapted for the American palate. “If you go to Thailand,” says Mr Horsa, “you will eat the same food as you do here.”

The recipes cover all of the regions of Thailand, said Mr Horsa. Bangkok tries to retain the variations in each region’s cuisines with its offerings, as much as is possible. Every year, Mr Horsa and Chef Robinson travel to Thailand, where villagers familiar with Thai cuisine compound special spice combinations for the restaurateurs. “These spices make Bangkok stand out from other Thai restaurants here, and ensures our uniqueness,” Mr Horsa said.

The menu features some 60 Thai entrees, with their ingredients listed along side. Thai cuisine is spicy, and the “hot & spicy” dishes are marked with an asterisk. Food will be made extra spicy upon request.

Bangkok offers luncheon specials Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 to 2:30 pm. Each comes with soup, a spring roll, and rice; the soup is excluded in to-go orders. There are four soup choices — including tom gah kai, chicken in coconut milk, and the spicy tom yum goong, traditional Thai shrimp soup — and 13 entrée selections, featuring chicken, pork, or beef served in different ways. Lunch is not served on the weekend.

Dinner is served from 5 to 10 Tuesday through Friday, and 4 to 10 on Saturday and Sunday. Diners can choose from six appetizers, three soups, and seven salads before even considering an entrée.

Appetizers range from pak sot (vegetarian rolls with dipping sauce) to the Bangkok sampler, which includes selections from four of the appetizers — thin slices of marinated pork or chicken, Thai beef jerky, pak sot, and bite-sized spring rolls stuffed with ground pork, bamboo shoots, crystal noodles, bean sprouts, and Thai spices.

The Thai salads include the peanut salad, which is a tossed salad with Taew’s peanut dressing; uym pla mouk for squid lovers; and yum goon chiang, which features imported Thai sausage with tomato, onion, cucumber, lettuce, and pepper with a Thai sauce.

Among the entrées, there are four noodle dishes and four that are fried rice based.

Bangkok also offers a variety of seafood dishes, many featuring shrimp, and three whole fish specialties. Ho mook talay is a combination of lobster, shrimp, scallops, and squid spiced and steamed in a clay pot. Goong ob-mo-din is crystal noodles, shrimp, ginger, and tomatoes.

Pork, chicken, and beef are offered in a number of dishes, with various vegetable and sauce combinations. Some examples are moo pad prik king, pork tenderloin with green beans, Thai hot curry, and exotic spices; kai ka pao, chicken with fresh basil and Thai spices; and panang nhua, slices of round steak simmered in coconut milk, Thai curry, and spices.

Entrees are priced between $9.95 and $13.95, with a few exceptions.

To end the meal, dessert selections are homemade coconut ice cream or rambutan, a Thai fruit. The Thai specialty of mango and sticky rice is offered on a seasonal basis.

Beverage selections include soft drinks, beer, wine, coffee, and tea.

Bangkok Restaurant, 72 Newtown Road, Danbury, is open Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30 and 5 to 10 pm; Saturday and Sunday, dinner only, 4 to 10. Closed Monday. MasterCard, Visa, and American Express accepted. Takeout available. For more information, 791-0640 or www.bangkokrestaurant.com.

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