A Taste of Bangkok In Geneva
Bangkok Thai Restaurant has been a favorite spot for nearly 20 years and offers a variety of healthy dishes to please almost any palate.
After stuffing myself the last week with holiday fare (actually the grazing has been going on since Thanksgiving), I decided perhaps we could find something tasty yet not too heavy for this week's review.
Bangkok Thai Cuisine Restaurant came to mind. Located in the heart of downtown at 119 W. State St., this quaint little place has been serving up authentic Thai food since 1992. Owners Ron and Vina Chaiyabutr opened Bangkok House in Elgin in 1987 with family members before coming to Geneva. Vina and niece Tithama will greet and serve you, but Ron comes by most evenings after work. He's been a technician at Beltone Hearing Aids for 30 years.
Without hesitation, Ron said, "spring rolls," are the most popular item on the menu. The spring roll wrappers are stuffed with Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, cucumbers and eggs, and generously covered with a sweet plum sauce. My dining companions had never experienced them before, and all I can say is the plate was empty by the time we left. Spring rolls always taste so fresh and crunchy, and the sauce just rolls in your mouth. You can't eat just one, and they are light enough to leave plenty of room for your main course.
I love spicy food, but I have to admit, I am not familiar with a lot of Thai food. The cuisine is known for being spicy, but you can manage the alarm level by requesting mild, spicy, or very spicy. Thai cooking is known for balancing flavors and the cuisine itself is most accurately described as representing the four regional cuisines of the country with influences from Burma, Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia. Dishes from the south region often contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric; from the north, lime juice.
Our party ordered the Gra Tiam Pring Thai ($9.25) with chicken as the meat, stir-fried in Thai-style garlic sauce with ground pepper and lettuce, with a side order of Thai rice noodles; Kao Lad Nar Bai Gra Praw ($7.95), beef as the meat, stir-fried with chili sauce, onions, and basil served with rice. Thank goodness the menu is in English as well. I ordered the Goong Pahd Bai Gra Praw ($10.95), sautéed shrimp with basil leaves, straw mushrooms, onions and hot pepper.
Each dish included plenty of flavorful sauce and a good balance of ingredients. Only the Goong Pahd Bai Gra Praw was spicy enough, so be sure to emphasize extra spicy if you like it hot. Unlike Chinese food, many of the dishes, such as the one I ordered, do not come with rice or noodles which can be ordered on the side.
There is ample choice for someone wanting to try Thai cuisine. Dishes include beef, chicken, and seafood including a Thai salad of Yum Squid ($6.95), boiled squid tossed with red onion and seasoned with sour, salty, and spicy sauce (Thai's blended flavors) served with lettuce.
Appetizers include the delicious and popular Spring Rolls, and also Shrimp Rolls with deep-fried shrimp wrapped in spring roll wrappers and served with a sweet and sour Thai sauce. The Nuea Yahng will be my choice next time: Thai style charcoal broiled sirloin steak with zesty sauce.
Thai cuisine is known for its noodle dishes, the most popular being Pahd Thai, stir-fried thin rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and a choice of meat. These dishes are usually served in a large bowl.
Our meal was topped off with Thai fortune cookies, delicious sweet rolled up cookies with a tiny scroll inside with a fortune.
Most of the menu items are under $10, and it's a BYOB establishment if you care to add wine or beer with your meal. While the restaurant is somewhat small, Ron was setting up a table for 10 and can accommodate small groups with a reservation. You might want to head toward the back during the colder months; the steady stream of carry-out pickups brought a chilly draft if you're near the door.
Bangkok Restaurant is located at 119 W. State St. Phone is 630-208-6836. The menu is available online here. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and, Sunday 4 to 8 p.m. Closed on Monday.