When a refined palate accompanies a sweet tooth, Bambu Desserts & Drinks is there. Take their extensive milk tea selection, for example, which features familiar flavors such as coffee, coconut, and mint, but also more exotic varieties such as red and green bean, lychee, and grass jelly?all bubbling with delightful pearls of black tapioca. Fruit smoothies mix up green apple, lime berry, and taro coconut, while other cold drinks such as the tangy Vietnamese iced coffee provide relief when the sun is particularly hot or secretly sneaking up on the Earth. The desserts are where things get really exciting, however, as the menu features distinctive blends of unexpected ingredients?the house specialty combines coconut with pandan jelly, longan, and basil seeds.
The chefs at Thai Jasmine begin their workday well before lunchtime, assembling the flavorful basil, crisp baby bok choy, and tangy fruits they will need for the day's dishes. They fold the fresh produce, meats, and spices into the authentic Thai specialties lauded by reporters from the Houston Press as "some of the honestly best Thai food in town". The chefs simmer up red, green, and yellow curries with coconut and bamboo shoots, and grill chicken, pork, and beef in a tangy Thai barbeque marinade. And, for dessert, they serve scoops of ice cream with fried bananas and sticky rice. But there is one thing they don't handle: drinks. Luckily, the BYOB eatery welcomes guests to bring beverages purchased at an outside store or squeezed from a roadside cactus.
Begin your culinary journey with an order of spring rolls or cheese rolls, stuffed with raisin-studded rice paper and deep-fried (both $4.25). Classic dishes done well appease traditionalists, including spicy Tom Yum soup ($4.25–$5.25), pad Thai ($8.95), pad see eiw ($8.95), and five kinds of curry ($8.95–$9.95). Build a balanced meal with the entree and rice dishes including garlic and pepper lover ($8.95) with stir-fried meat tossed in black pepper sauce over cabbage. Diners can also pick from grilled selections ($10.95–$12.95), served with shrimp fried rice and steamed veggies. Cool off a spice-saturated palate with a sweet scoop of coconut ice cream ($3.50) for dessert. Expect friendly service, carefully curated curry, and a cozy ambiance at any of the eight outposts. Like the recipe for Play-Doh, Thai Cottage adheres to simple, timeless standards.
When it comes to presentation, the chefs at Thai Seafood like to get creative. It's not unusual to find creamy scallop curries served alongside heart-shaped mounds of rice, or sweet mango sticky rice decorated with delicate petals of apples. The chefs also surround nutty cashew chicken with colorful sprinkles of herbs, and top coconut ice cream with fluffy clouds of whipped cream. The only thing that impresses as much as the comprehensive menu of Thai dishes––which includes tangy yellow, red, and green curries, noodles, and fried rice––is the elegant dining room, where white linens drape over burgundy tablecloths and wine glasses play classical music when clinked.
It was 1984 when Gil Lobreck left Bangkok and re-settled in Seabrook, Texas, introducing his new home to traditional Thai dishes in his restaurant, Bay Thai. Almost two decades later, Gil’s son Andrew decided to continue the family tradition by building his own restaurant—Merlion—where he peppers his dad's recipes with occasional American influences to present a new twist on established Thai staples. In addition to making five different curries flavored with everything from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves to nutmeg and cloves, Chef Andrew also designs inventive seafood dishes such as wild-caught salmon served with a sake-mushroom cream sauce and wasabi-spiked mashed potatoes. These more creative entrees appear alongside a familiar sounding selection of wok-seared noodle dishes, Thai fried rice, and marinated satay skewers. The terracotta tile floor and apple-red walls of Merlion’s dining room stand out amid the black banquettes and tables draped with crisp white linens. One of the most striking elements, however, is the brick and stone bar, which complements the warm colors and earth tones used throughout the space, and serves as a protective barrier between bartenders and any big bad wolves they refuse to serve.
The Bangkok Chef kitchen is a treasure trove of fresh, exotic ingredients—from juicy mangos to crisp kaffir leaves to fiery chilies. Chefs fold the ingredients into a comprehensive array of traditional Thai specialties, including curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fries. Inside the bustling kitchen, you'll find them flying around stirring tender duck and pineapple into a red curry and peeking into pots of bubbling tom yum soup, ensuring each dish is spiced to perfection. Servers carry dishes out into the bright dining room, where soft lights illuminate intimate tabletops and comfy booths, and expert bartenders blend up lychee martinis and minty mojitos. The restaurant sometimes closes briefly after the lunch rush before reopening in the evening, allowing chefs time to assemble fresh ingredients for dinner or attend rehearsals for the kitchen's upcoming production of Oklahoma!.