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Category Archives: Thai

Bangkok Thai Cuisine

Kira, standing in front of Bangkok Thai CuisineA sit-down restaurant featuring Thai food

Location:
2920 E Covenanter Dr
Bloomington, IN 47401
(812) 333-7477

Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Website: http://www.bangkokthai.biz
Menu: http://www.bangkokthai.biz/#!menu/c5hf

Prices:
Lunch: $10 – $12
Dinner: $11 – $17

(Information updated May, 2014)

Review Summary:
Ultimately, I’d say that we were satisfied by Bangkok Thai Cuisine, but given the many excellent options we have for Thai food in Bloomington, we probably won’t be back there very often.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Asian, Info Pages, Sit-down, Thai

 

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Erik and Kira Eat Bangkok Thai Cuisine

Erik, eating curry at Bangkok Thai CuisineNow that we’re back, Kira and I will be trying something a little different. Instead of us each writing a separate review, we’ll pool our thoughts together in a single review. I (Erik) will probably be the one that does most of the writing, so you can blame all the rambling tangents on me. But I’ll do my best to make sure that both of our opinions are properly represented here.

Bangkok Thai Cuisine. Sunday, May 11th, 2014. Dinner time.

Bloomington has a lot of Thai restaurants: Esan Thai, Siam House, two different My Thai Cafes, Delicious Thai Kitchen, and now Bangkok Thai Cuisine. (I’m not even counting the recently closed Thai restaurants Basil Leaf and A Roy D.) Kira, eating crab Rangoon at Bangkok Thai CuisineWe love Thai food, but most of the existing restaurants are pretty good, so we weren’t actively looking for more options on the Thai cuisine front. But we do what we must for our readers.

Bangkok Thai Cuisine is in a somewhat hidden location, tucked behind the east-side Kroger on Covenanter Road, a street that doesn’t get a lot of traffic. And so it’s no surprise that restaurants in this location don’t tend to last very long. The first time Kira and I ate at here, it was called Limestone Grill, and it was a pretty fancy place. The second time we ate here, it was Nadia’s Bistro, and it specialized in locally-produced ingredients. But the decor hadn’t changed very much and it still felt like a pretty fancy place. Now that it’s a Thai restaurant, the decor is still very similar (including the one wall that is covered in some sort of abstract faux-stone relief mural),

Some sort of abstract faux-stone relief mural. so it feels a bit more upscale than it might otherwise. They’ve made a few changes, like the bamboo-style chairs, presumably to ensure that the customers don’t forget that they’re in an Asian restaurant. Kira has put forth the hypothesis that it’s all really the same restaurant and that the cook just gets bored every few years.

Chicken satay (upper left), fried tofu (bottom right), crab Rangoon (left and right), spring rolls (upper right and bottom), and three sauces (from left to right: sweet and sour, cucumber, and peanut)

Chicken satay (upper left), fried tofu (bottom right), crab Rangoon (left and right), spring rolls (upper right and bottom), and three sauces (from left to right: sweet and sour, cucumber, and peanut).

We ordered a sampler for our appetizer, which came with chicken satay, spring rolls, fried tofu, crab Rangoon, and three sauces (peanut, cucumber, and sweet and sour). The chicken satay was good, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a chicken satay appetizer that wasn’t. Even though I’m not usually one for spring rolls or egg rolls, I really liked the spring rolls here. Kira recommends using the cucumber sauce on the spring rolls, even though sweet and sour would be more traditional. As usual, the tofu is really just another vehicle for the sauces, which were good, but not unusually so. Kira thinks that the wonton wrapper was a bit on the chewy side, and I suspect that crunchier would’ve been better, but I still liked it. My usual complaint about crab Rangoon is that it’s mostly stuffed with cream cheese with barely any crab*, but no such problem here.

*Yes, I know that it’s usually processed whitefish and not meat from an actual crab, but my point still stands.

Yellow curry with chicken, carrots, potatoes, and onion.I ordered the yellow curry (with chicken, carrots, and potatoes), and I was pleased to find that there was no shortage of chicken. In fact, they might’ve gone too far in the other direction and shorted me on the vegetables. Kira ordered the pad Thai because you can’t go to a Thai restaurant in the U.S. and not try the pad Thai. It might be cliche, but it’s still our favorite Thai dish.  Kira thought that the noodles were a bit on the chewy side and that the sauce tasted a little too much of peanuts. I didn’t mind the flavor (peanuts go well with pad Thai, in my opinion), but if I ever get the craving for pad Thai in particular, this won’t be where I go.

Yellow curry in its native habitatWe both ordered our dishes with a spiciness** level of two out of five stars. (I have no idea why this is something that only happens at Thai restaurants. Ten minutes with Google has failed to answer this question. If I ever figure it out, dear readers, I’ll be sure to let you know.) Deciding on how many spiciness stars at a new restaurant is always a difficult decision for someone like me. I do like the flavor that often comes with a little bit of heat***, but if it gets too spicy, I simply can’t finish the meal. I’ve tried to just grin-and-bear-it before, but then I just end up feeling ill. Kira is somewhat more tolerant of spiciness, but not by much. A two-star curry or pad Thai is sometimes perfect and sometimes a smidgen too hot for me. Pad ThaiAt Bangkok, the pad Thai was probably a little too spicy for me and just fine for Kira. Neither of us could detect any heat at all in the curry. Your mileage may vary, but you can use our experience as a reference point.

**I’m well aware that there are two meanings of the word “spicy”. I think it’s perfectly obvious which meaning I’ve intended here. Sadly, ordinary colloquial English does not have a simple, unambiguous way to refer to the sensation brought on by chemicals like capsaicin. Scientists use the word “pungent”, but to me, that usually means strong smelling, so it’s still unambiguous.
***The same goes for the word “hot”. Anyone who decides to deliberately misinterpret me here is the bad kind of pedant. And coming from a self-admitted pedant, that’s a nasty insult.

The service was friendly and prompt, but mostly unremarkable. We asked for some extra rice to take home with our leftovers, which was happily provided. We expected there would be a small charge for that, but we also expected the server to mention how much that charge would be before heading off to get the rice. There was, but he didn’t. It turns out it was $2, which feels a bit on the steep side to me. Dinner entrées are in the $11 – $17 range and lunch entrées are $10 – $12. These prices are comparable to the other Thai restaurants in town (although Delicious Thai Kitchen is slightly cheaper).

Ultimately, I’d say that we were satisfied by Bangkok Thai Cuisine, but given the many excellent options we have for Thai food in Bloomington, we probably won’t be back there very often.

(Note: We’ve decided to drop the numerical scores that we used to give to restaurants. Looking back on the old reviews, they seem to be wildly inconsistent, and you’re better off reading our actual words to get an idea as to whether we liked a place. If you don’t feel like reading the entire review, you can jump to the last paragraph to see our summary.)

 

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Kira’s Number Three: Anyetsang’s Little Tibet

The decor at Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant. Includes a photo of the Dalai Lama and a Tibet poster.The Time:
Wednesday, April 19th 8:30 pm-ish

The Place: Anyetsang’s Little Tibet
This was my first time to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, although Erik had been there many times for lunch. I am a fan of most Asian foods, and so was looking forward to this place, which has a menu of ‘Tibetan Specialties’, ‘Thai Specialties’, and ‘Indian Curry Specialties’. Over all, I was not impressed.

Temo and phing shaw

Temo and phing shaw.

The Atmosphere:
There are a lot of photos of the Dalai Lama. I heard somewhere that the owner is the Dalai Lama’s brother, but I didn’t ask. There is outside sitting, which at this time of year I would have preferred, but there was a little chill in the air, and I get cold easily, so we opted to eat inside. There were plenty of people there, but they were all outside. We were the only people inside, which probably contributed to our slow service.


The food: 

Since Tibet is in the name of the restaurant, we both opted for one of the Tibetan specialties. I ordered the Phing Shaw (“Bean thread noodles stir-fried with assorted vegetables, secret seasonings and your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or tofu”). I asked for half chicken and half tofu, although they forgot my tofu the first time around so that they had to take it back to add it in. Salad at Anyetsang's: iceberg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and red cabbageErik got the Temo She Tse with chicken, another veggie stir-fry, this time with “all famous seasonings”.

But first came the soup of the day, which was a watery lentil soup. Eh. Then the tossed salad–some iceberg with red onion, cucumbers, and a big slice of carrot, served with a side of surprisingly strong oriental-type dressing. While I usually I like oriental salad dressing, I did not like this salad. The dressing just didn’t go with the iceberg, or maybe it was just too strong. Both entrees came with a choice of jasmine rice or temo (steamed bread), so Erik ordered the rice and I got the Temo. The steamed bread was definitely the best part of the meal. It almost tastes like eating raw dough, and it is great for dipping in the sauce of the entrees.

Temo she tse, with chicken, carrots, bean sprouts, black mushrooms, broccoli, string beans, cabbage, onions, baby corn, and zucchini

Temo she tse.

The menu mentions secret seasonings, special seasonings, now-famous seasonings, and special sauces. I have no idea what the differences are between them, if any, but the now-famous seasonings in Erik’s Temo She Tse was more of a tomato sauce-not an Italian tomato sauce but more like tomato soup-while mine was more what I think of when I think stir-fry. And there definitely was a wide assortment of vegetables in both of our dishes. There was a slightly different assortment in each dish, but they included mostly: broccoli, tomatoes, many different kinds of mushrooms, carrots, sprouts, bok choy, onions, bamboo, and probably a few more that I am forgetting. I’m not a huge veggie person, so I could’ve done with less vegetables and more meat. I didn’t like Erik’s dish as much, the tomato-y sauce didn’t go as well with the rest of the food, although the steamed bread sure did taste good in it. Mine was pretty good, though, for how many veggies there were. And the tofu was just regular tofu, like most places I go to. There is a place in Tempe, AZ called Plaid that has THE best tofu. I think they bake it or grill it first, so it isn’t slimy at all. I keep hoping that I’ll find another place that does it like that, but this is not it.

The Service: 
Our waiter was friendly, but was not good at giving suggestions. He was also was pretty slow, and we had to ask another woman who worked there for water after we had been without it for quite awhile. It also took a long time to deal with the check.

The Price:
Wow, I just really looked at the menu. Every dinner entree on it is $9.95 ($10.45 for shrimp), except for the Pad Thai, which is $9.25 ($9.75 with shrimp). Most everything for lunch is $5.95. Appetizers are $4.95, and Soups and Stews are $7.50. I guess they find a number a stick with it. (Prices are now $8-$9 for lunch, and pretty much every single dinner entrée is $12.95. -Erik, April 2014)

The Rest:
Eh, I wasn’t impressed, even though that Temo bread was really good.

How often would I go back? 
Maybe 3 times a year. It wasn’t awful, but I don’t see a reason to go back very often. (what’s this?)

 

Erik Eats (a little) Tibet

Erik at Anyetsang's Little Tibet RestaurantI can think of many features of family-owned restaurants that make me prefer them to large chains. It turns out that I don’t like everything about the little independent restaurants. Case in point: major franchise restaurants do not close on Tuesdays. I understand all the work involved in running a restaurant, and that everyone needs a weekend, even if they can’t afford to hire replacements. And I appreciate that the restaurants stay open on my weekends. But you have to give me a little sympathy here. I mean, come on…Tuesday?!

Eventually we did make it to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, which showed up quite a bit earlier on the list than I’d expected considering everyone just calls it “Little Tibet.”
I’ve heard rumors that the brother of the Dalai Lama owns this restaurant, but I have yet to confirm this. I normally try to remain skeptical about claims of this sort, but every time I mention it to someone, I usually receive a response along the lines of “I didn’t know that, but it does make sense.”The Dalai Lama, hanging out at Anyetsang's Little Tibet. The Lama seems to have some sort of connection to Bloomington, but I haven’t tracked that down either. Let me see what the internet has to say on the subject… You can go read Kira’s review while you wait.

[two hours pass]

Okay, so the brother of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, does not own Little Tibet. That honor belongs to Thupten Anyetsang, although the Lama’s brother, Thupten (or Thubten, depending on who writes it) Jigme Norbu, a retired IU professor does live here in Bloomington. The search has reminded me how much more I like Gyatso than most other religious leaders in the news, but I don’t want this to become a political blog, so I’ll avoid heading down that path.

(Thubten Jigme Norbu’s son, also named Thubten Jigme Norbu, was the owner of Snow Lion, Bloomington’s other Tibetan restaurant. In 2008, the father died from an illness at the age of 86. Tragically, three years later, his son was hit by a car and killed during a walk to promote Tibetan independence. -Erik, April 2014)

Instead I’ll talk about Anyetsang’s little restaurant. So far, I know of two Tibetan restaurants in the city, and I haven’t eaten at The Snow Lion yet, so you’ll have to wait until we get to the S’s to read a comparison. Little Tibet falls into the surprisingly large group of small, family-owned, ethnic restaurants that Bloomington seems to do so well. (I say family-owned, but I guess I really just mean that the owner actually shows up to work occasionally.)

Temo bread.

Temo bread.

Whenever I go to an ethnic restaurant for the first time, I always try to stick to those dishes labeled with the advertised ethnicity. Little Tibet also has Indian and Thai cuisine, but it just feels wrong to order pad thai when they’ve got mo mo, temo she tse, phing shaw, and a half dozen other entrées of which I’ve never heard. I had eaten there before, so this time I passed on the mo mo, a tasty, doughy bread-ball with a variety of stuffing options, and instead I ordered the temo she tse. I don’t know what that means, but I’ve learned that “temo” refers to a steamed bread item which, for some reason, appeared only as an optional side with my dish. I’ve got nothing against their rice, but if you get a chance to try Anyetsang’s temo, do it. That was probably my favorite part of the meal.

Yellow, soupy stuff. (Otherwise known as dal.)

Dal.

Most dinner dishes at Anyetsang’s come with salad (don’t use too much of the dressing) and a yellow soupy substance that I’ve never developed a taste for. (It’s called “dal.” -Erik, April 2014) My friend Neeraj (a.k.a. Baby Bok Choy) says that outside of the U.S., people pour the stuff over their rice instead of eating it as soup, which struck me as odd because around here, it always shows up before the rice. I don’t care much for it either way, but your mileage may vary.

Both my dish and Kira’s (the phing shaw) bore many similarities to the sorts of stir-fry dishes that you can find at most Asian restaurants in this country, featuring some kind of meat (or tofu) and a very wide variety of vegetables. Other than this wide variety of vegetables, I don’t really have any other complaints about the food. But I do feel that they put too many different types of vegetable on my plate. I got up to twelve before I lost count. It seemed as if they just threw a bit of every vegetable that they could find in there. Some didn’t mesh as well as others, especially the tomatoes. Kira’s phing shaw didn’t seem to have this problem, though that dish also featured a bewildering variety of vegetation. Somehow, it just seemed to work better, the veggies backing each other up rather than getting in each others’ ways. See if you can tell the difference between my food (on the left) and Kira’s (on the right). They look very, very similar, but do not taste the same at all. Despite its lack of coherency, I still finished off my food, and I did not leave dissatisfied.

Erik's temo she tse (left) and Kira's phing shaw (right).

This time, we remembered to take pictures of the food before we ate it, so if you’d like to take a look, head on over to the photo gallery. (Sadly, we lost most of the pictures in the move. I’ll see if I can track them down eventually. -Erik, April 2014)

(I’ve located the pictures, and I’ve started re-uploading them and integrating them into the posts. I probably won’t recreate a full gallery for each restaurant, however. But you can see more pictures in Kira’s review. -Erik, May 2014)

Yum – 3.5, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 2, Wow – 4 (Huh?)

 

Anyetsang’s Little Tibet

Exterior view of Anyetsang's Little TibetA sit-down restaurant serving Tibetan, Thai, and Indian food

415 E 4th St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408
812-331-0122

Hours:
Wednesday – Monday: 11:00am – 3:00pm (lunch) 5:00pm – 9:00pm (dinner)

Website: http://www.anyetsangs.com/
Menu: lunch – dinner
Prices: $8-$9 (lunch) $12.95 (dinner)

(Information updated April 2014 -Erik)

The sign at Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant, serving authentic Tibetan and International CuisineErik’s Ratings:
 Yum – 3.5, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 2, Wow – 4 (Huh?)


How often would Kira eat there? 

Maybe 3 times a year. (what’s this?)

Reviews:
Kira
Erik

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2006 in Asian, Indian, Info Pages, Sit-down, Thai, Tibetan

 

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