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Bangkok 54 Report

AC | Feb 16, 2006 10:54 AM

I realize there have been no shortage of recommendations as to what to try at Bangkok 54, but I thought I would share our own experience nonetheless.

We tried two entrees from among their specials— "54's Spicy Roasted Duck" and the "Crispy Catfish Curry." Feeling slightly guilty about choosing two fried entrees, we opted for their "Fresh Rolls" appetizer, cold sliced veggies wrapped in rice paper, accompanied with a rich, velvety peanut sauce.

The summer rolls were the best we’ve ever had. Each half of the roll was bursting with avocado and fried tofu, and layered with cucumber, carrots, lettuce, and vermicelli. For some reason, the attractive presentation reminded me of the presentation of one of the elaborate sushi rolls at Nobu in New York.

Both entrees were delicious, but quite possibly the weirdest things we’ve ever tried at a Thai restaurant. The duck came in small and large pieces deep fried within an inch of their lives and crispy as it gets, the bright red roasted skin practically glowing through the thin fried coating. This dish was hardly saucey at all, just chopped chilis and garlic, and, even better, generously strewn with crispy, fried basil leaves.

The catfish was tender and only lightly fried in a thin curry paste sauce interspersed with large shreds of fresh ginger. Two of its several accompaniments, however, were otherworldy, so much so that it looked like it was prepared by aliens from the future. Thai eggplant is about the size of a large cherry tomato, its skin marbled with a two-tone green and milky white swirl, and when halved, its seedy interior almost appears fig-like. We were also perplexed by the numerous little vines adorned with caper-sized berries. Despite their twigginess, these mystery items easily yielded to fork and mouth, at which point we realized they were pickled peppercorn sprigs.

While both dishes were wonderful, I don’t recommend trying both of them in one sitting. It’s simply too much deep-fried goodness for two people to bear.

Bangkok 54 also has a few special proprietary cocktails. We tried the Jeed Jaad cocktail which was a blend of banana flavored rum, a second rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, a “Thai Olive” lurking at the bottom, and the rim dusted with salt and Thai spices. In short, this cocktail basically replicated all of the taste notes of a typical Thai meal: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. And the “Thai Olive” was an oversized green olive that seemed to be almost candied and definitely had some sort of chili treatment, similar to the dried candied olives at places like AJ Ichiban. This was easily as wonderful as any of the proprietary cocktails Todd at Restaurant Eve. Highly recommended.

Next time, we hope to try out the pork belly, about which many here have spoken so highly.


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