By: Viola Bello
On a quiet Tuesday evening, we visited Bangkok Golden restaurant. A small but charming restaurant, it is located at 6395 Seven Corners Center in Falls Church, Virginia. The first thing I noticed as I entered the restaurant was a tiny quartered arrangement of food and drink offerings, evidence of their spirituality. Previous to Tuesday night, I had never tried Thai or Laos cuisine. All I knew was that it would be spicy. As I soon found out, if you are looking for food with a spicy kick, then the Thai and Laos cuisine is definitely for you, and Bangkok Golden is the place to visit to try it. The restaurant has been operating under a new owner and chef since March 2010.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a really nice hostess who showed us to our table. Our server appeared by our table as soon as we were seated. We started off with Thai sweet tea with lime for me, and Thai sweet tea with regular milk for my dining companion. I don’t prefer sweet tea, but the one with the milk was absolutely delicious, so next time I visit I’m getting that one. The sweet tea is pretty standard, but it is good to keep by your side as you eat the spicy dishes. We were trying the sampling menu, so our dishes were smaller than the portions that are normally served.
The moderately prized appetizers offered are different and vary in spiciness—Lao Hot to Thai Hot to Mild Hot. We tried Chunh Mun Koong, which is shrimp cake with Lao curry, bean, and fresh dill. It came served with cucumber sauce which was mildly spicy, and complemented the tasty fried shrimp very well. The second appetizer, Lao spicy sausage consisted of pork sausage stuffed with lemon grass, herbs, and fresh dill. Bursting with flavor, this was Lao hot, which means that you should keep your drink near by, because your mouth will be on fire. Fresh herbs such as dill and mint are used wildly in both cuisines. Next, we tried Beef Jerky, which was beef marinated with lemongrass, ginger, and black pepper. Served with a sweet and sour dip, it was delicious.
In addition to the appetizers, we had the opportunity to try two different salads. The first one was the mango salad with shrimp, which consisted of Julienne green mango, carrots, red onion, dried shrimp spicy lime sauce topped with peanut. The salad was crisp and tart due to the lime sauce. My favorite was the second one, which consisted of crispy fried rice that you wrapped in a lettuce leaf, kind of like a burrito. If you are brave, you can add red peppers to add heat, otherwise you can enjoy it as is. This is also Bangkok Golden's signature salad, so definitely give it a try.
Crispy fried rice wrapped in lettuce leaf
Delicious entrees came next. Like a dance, our server placed dishes like fish soup, pork, tilapia filets, crispy rice, larb duck, and beef stew on our table. If you like soup, try this dish. Fresh tilapia, the fish of choice in this restaurant, is cooked with rice noodles, coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger, julienne cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and chili. I found it slightly spicy, but the coconut milk was a perfect complement to the chili.
Tilapia fish soup
Our next sampling entrée was Ping Moo, which is grilled pork neck marinated with house sauce, lemongrass, and ginger. Beware of the house sauce as it is super spicy! It should be noted that all the entrees come with sticky rice. The sticky rice is presented in a cute little basket to preserve its warm temperature.
Fresh Tilapia filets were next. Tilapia was self wrapped with lettuce steam noodle, ginger, galangal root, tomato, fresh lemongrass, and bean sprout. Served with house tamarind sauce with lemongrass and ginger, it was grilled to perfection.
My favorite dish of the evening was Larb Ped (Duck). Minced duck meat was seasoned in spicy sauce, Kaffir lime leaves, fragrant toasted rice powder, shallots, garlic, green onion, cilantro, and mint. It contained the perfect combination of flavors.
Crispy rice and beef stew were the last two entrees we tried. Both were delicious. The stew was a Lao country style curry with chili paste, lemongrass, galangal, Asian eggplant, and fresh dill and very spicy. If you don’t like to get your hands dirty, the crispy rice is a good choice. With a number of different ingredients mixed with a lime juice dressing, the flavor of this dish was intricate.
At the conclusion of the entrees, we also had the opportunity to try two different desserts. The mango custard was served with coconut milk. It was light, which was a good thing after our plentiful dinner. My favorite dessert was the Mango fruit served with black sticky rice and coconut milk. The rice was cooked to perfection and the mango balanced out the texture of the rice. The coconut milk was a perfect complement to sticky rice.
Fresh mango with black sticky rice (Yum!)
Kob Jai (thank you) for a great tasting experience Bangkok Golden!