This week, Will and I ventured to a hidden slice of Thailand, unbeknownst to many students behind the enchanted gardens of Worcester: Bangkok House. The whitewashed exterior seems unassuming, but once inside, the stylish interior decoration reveals another world. From the delicately carved dark-wooden tables, the serene Ranat Ek background music, bronze statues of Asian goddesses, to the colourfully exotic decorations draping down from the ceiling, the ambiance did not let down the restaurant’s self-proclaimed authentic Thai cuisine.
A critic once said the way to judge a Thai restaurant’s calibre is through their chef’s Tong Yum Soup. The searing soup was certainly bursting with character. I loved the balance of herbs, sour, fire and sweetness in the broth. The prawns were tender and juicy; the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves garnish added an extra punch. That said, the soup could have done without the bland white mushrooms that seemed a little out of place. The Bangkok Delight platter certainly lived up to its name. The selection included satay skewers and Thai dumplings served with a refreshing assortment of dressings. The daintiest part was the mini fire cauldron for heating up the skewers; the enticing smell coming off at the spitting blue flame was mouth-watering. By the end of the course, my bouche was very much amused.
The menu had all the gamut of classic Thai cuisine. The Thai green curry was aromatic; the creamy flavour of the coconut milk came through nicely, contrasting the sharpness of the chilli. The beef was perhaps a little over-done, but the dish was certainly packed with flavour. The piquant papaya salad – subtly spiced – soothed the palate from the otherwise lip-numbing fiery power of Dante’s forth circle of Hell- indeed a proof of its authenticity to a foreigner. This, and the moreishly must-have Thai milky iced-tea made it difficult to flaw the meal. By the end, both of us felt very sated, just as what authentic Thai cuisine should achieve.
Overall, the staff displayed the hospitality one would expect from high-end restaurants in Thailand: humble, polite and helpful. A supper at a Thai restaurant need not end in mediocre food that leaves a bitter residue in your mouth. There are indeed more economical restaurants around town, but Bangkok House is a far cry from the swinish calibre of the egregious crewdate-ish ‘Thai’ diners known to us. It is unreservedly one of the rough diamonds of the Oxford dining scene.