2008/04/11

Khun Pic's Bahn Thai

First of all, I want to preface this post with a bit of a Eulogy for our old favorite Thai place in Portland, The Bangkok Kitchen. We hadn't found anywhere in Portland that we liked nearly as well, and there are gobs of Thai restaurants in Portland (mostly with horrible names like Beau Thai or Appethaizing). About 6 months ago, they closed and were replaced by another not-very-good "pan-asian" place, and we were devastated. We started trying new places all over in search of another favorite Thai place, but to no avail. There were a few that were good, but nothing really matched The Bangkok Kitchen, especially their Tom Ka soup and their Pad Thai.

So, we met these lovely people named Michael and Dara, who love food as much as we do, and they told us about this wonderful Thai place on SE Belmont ST. At first we thought they meant the Bangkok Kitchen (as it was on Belmont as well), and we were sad and told them it had closed. But they said, no, it was alive and well, and that we should all go sometime because the food was incredible. So, last night we finally made it there, and I have to say, it was one of the best dining experiences we've had, period.

The restaurant is in an old house on Belmont that has a garden in front and a gate which leads into the garden. It's very unassuming from the outside, and it looks like it could be a bed and breakfast or something like that. The garden area is beautiful (my picture isn't that good, I'll try to get a better one). It's directly across the street from The Tao of Tea, which we've been going to for years and years, but we never knew it was a restaurant. The house has been entirely redone on the inside, and it is decorated beautifully with rich colors and patterns and it feels very home-like. The seating area is in what would have been the entry and front room of the house, and there are beautiful smells wafting out of the swinging door to the kitchen every time it opens.

The restaurant is owned and run by a man and his wife, he's American and she's Thai. She cooks and he's the server. Due to the fact that it is just the two of them running the restaurant, you can expect to wait quite a while for your food, but believe me, if you don't have a time constraint, the wait is well worth it. The owners are both incredibly nice, and they will get to know you if you come in regularly (our friends Michael and Dara go fairly frequently, and have gone off and on since they opened, and were on familiar terms with both of them). We got to the restaurant at about 7.15pm and we left at about 11.30pm. For about the last hour that we were there, we were just talking with the owners, who had both come out of the kitchen, as there was only one other couple left there besides the four of us. She gave us a piece of cake she had bought that day, and we just sat and talked. It really felt like we had just come over to their house for dinner, which was wonderful.

Now, more about the food. She shops every day for the food for the restaurant, and so she buys everything fresh and locally. When she's shopping, she said if she can't find good green beans for instance, she just won't buy them, and the curry won't have green beans that day. This to say, they are very concerned with the quality of their food, and it shows. Everything we tried was very flavorful, and the flavors were very complimentary and well-balanced. We started with salad rolls, which have mint and apple in them, and come with a home-made spicy peanut sauce that is absolutely delicious. After that came the Tom Ka soup with tofu and vegetables, which we liked even better than Bangkok Kitchen's (which is saying a lot). In terms of main courses, we tried their Pad Thai with chicken, Drunken Noodles with chicken and Green Curry with prawns and vegetables, and all three were delicious. We were excited about the Pad Thai, as that had been one of our main disappointments with other Thai restaurants in town. Many of them serve a very ketchupy Pad Thai, but this was more dry noodles and still very flavorful, just how we like it. We got it with chicken this time, but will have to try it with tofu and vegetables next time, as that is our favorite way to have it. The drunken noodles were something we had never tried before, and I'm glad we did. The green curry was rich and flavorful and the prawns were cooked perfectly.

Anyway, we left extremely satisfied and hoping to make this place a regular stop in our going out to eat. It's a bit more expensive than your average Thai place, more in the $10-$15 range per entree, but the food and the overall experience are amazing. Definitely give it a try if you're ever in Portland and you enjoy Thai food.

edit:
I forgot to mention that we found out in the course of conversation with the owners of the place, that she is the daughter of the lady who originally owned The Bangkok Kitchen :) Small world...

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From the sidewalk, through the garden:
Khun Pic's Bahn Thai

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Khun Pic's Bahn Thai
3429 SE Belmont ST
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 235-1610


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1 comment:

Trina said...

BEST THAI RESTAURANT EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!