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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Putting the ‘BANG’ back in Bangkok: Local Thai restaurant revives culinary diversity

Like a big, gray tidal wave, a tragic trend has been sweeping our nation’s culinary landscape for many years now.

Affecting seemingly everyone and leaving invariable heartbreak in its wake is this force of which I speak, a force so ruthless and bleak that it has simply, by way of extreme bleakness, blinded all humans-except for those of us few epicureans left-to its bitter gloom.

And since nearly everyone has been left unaware of this foul phenomenon, I have been left to give it a name. I call it MHMCD-the Mass Homogenization and Mediocritization of Culinary Diversity.

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and realized that just about everything on the menu tastes exactly the same? Or that everything at one Chinese restaurant tastes just like everything at another? Or all of them in the whole city? Country?

But this isn’t limited to Chinese food-America has collapsed practically every branch of the cuisine tree into merely a few key flavors and dishes.


You want examples?

OK, fine. Mexican food (or any type of Hispanic cuisine, for that matter) now consists of nothing but salsa, guacamole, beans and tortillas. Italian food has been stripped down to little more than pasta, pizza, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. French food-why, it’s been reduced to mere crpes and butter sauce!

For the love of God, people, these cuisines have incredibly rich, flavorful and multifarious histories! We need to let them live!

Although no cure has yet been found for MHMCD, there is at least one restaurant laboring tirelessly to keep its cuisine’s unique and eclectic tradition thriving.

Bangkok Thai offers an enormous selection of toothsome Thai food covering all the many aspects of this delicious cuisine-from meats, fish and seafood to all kinds of vegetables and vegetarian dishes; from noodles and rice to soups and five kinds of curry and from as mild as it gets to so-spicy-you-might-die.

Seriously die.

The truly amazing thing about Bangkok Thai is that every item on its menu is completely different from every other item. Dishes may occasionally use a few of the same ingredients, but if they do, they’re combined with other ingredients and doused in sauces so divergent that you would never think of them as remotely similar.

A great example is two of the curry dishes. The gang ka ree, or yellow curry, consists of medium yellow curry, coconut milk, kaffir lime and bay leaves, potatoes, carrots and onions. The gang deang, or red curry, is composed of medium red curry, coconut milk, peas, shrimp paste, bell peppers, bamboo shoots and fresh thai basil. Sorta similar…right?…but worlds apart.

An excellent appetizer to try at Bangkok is the tofu tawt-flash-fried bean cake served with a sweet-and-sour-cucumber sauce. The tofu cubes are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and, bewilderingly, aren’t oily in the slightest.

How do they do it?

We may never know, but the important thing is that we devour these tasty morsels.

An entre you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere is the pad ga prow, or basil stir-fry. It’s a delicious wok-fried medley of fresh chiles, bell peppers, onion, broccoli, assorted vegetables and, of course, Thai basil. It’s bursting with flavor and spiciness and was definitely meant only for the robust of tongue.

But, if you don’t exactly fit into that category, a wiser choice may be the lad nar noodles, with either wide rice or wheat noodles.

Reportedly Thailand’s most popular noodle dish, Bangkok Thai prepares this one “Bangkok style”-that is, stir-fried with Thai broccoli, garlic, egg (if you want it) and a rich oysterless gravy sauce. The flavor is savory with a sweet edge and, mercifully, not spicy at all.

I could rave about practically everything on the menu, but, frankly, there isn’t enough room left and I have yet to mention the thing you really want to hear about: dessert.

If you think everything else I’ve said is crap (I might cry if you do, but it’s your opinion), pay attention here. If you go to Bangkok Thai, you have to get the fried bananas for dessert. Oh. My. Delicious.

Top three things about this banana-honey-coconut-hybrid treat: 1) Sweet crunchiness on the outside, soft, melty, heavenly banana-ness in the inside. 2) Yummy coconut ice cream on the side, with real coconut chunks in it. 3) Served aflame. AFLAME!

Seriously, folks, Thai food doesn’t get any better than this. And what’s more, a meal here doesn’t just tantalize your tongue and satisfy your stomach-it also contributes to the epicurean effort to preserve culinary diversity in the face of homogenization.

So I guess the only question is, which side are you on?

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