Red curry, green curry, mango curry—at Pakarang Restaurant, who's celebrating their 20th anniversary this year— the kitchen crafts nine different fragrant curries in varying levels of heat, in which chicken, beef, or seafood simmer. Specialty dishes include the bangkok beef and crispy duck. All the cuisine is artfully made, matching the casual yet modern, underwater-themed decor that includes dark-stained wood floors and mottled walls.
With recipes that call to mind the towering spires of the Khmer Empire’s antique capital, the chef at Angkor Restaurant recreates modern Cambodia’s favorite dishes. Nam yaa, the restaurant's most popular dish, is also known as medicine soup for the restorative qualities of its lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and the tradition of serving it in a tiny childproof bottle. Distinct Cambodian sauces, such as tamarind and spicy garlic, douse crispy fish, and peanut sauce tops banh hoi, whose steamed noodles are accompanied by lettuce and mint.
If the food at Sala Cafe tastes particularly authentic, that’s because it is. Preparing fresh sushi alongside Thai curries, the chefs at Sala Cafe have years of experience cooking Thai food in the U.S. as well as at the family’s restaurant in Thailand. Fresh ingredients make their way into every stir-fry and rice dish, including seafood teriyaki and volcano chicken. Expertly prepared sushi rolls, including the Dance with Shrimp roll and the Savannah Snapper roll, continue to serve up the restaurant’s fresh flavors.
Siam Square packs its eclectic menu with stir-fried and sautéed dishes drawn from various regions of Thailand. Super spicy tom-yum soup flavors a chicken or shrimp broth with thai herbs for a hot, welcome break from Campbell’s congressman-shaped chicken-noodle soup ($3.25). Crushed peanuts rub elbows with tofu, eggs, and meats at the pad thai's rice-noodle pad ($7.50/lunch, $8.95/dinner), and hot basil fried rice fills barren stomachs with ground chicken, peppers, and other fresh veggies ($7.50/lunch, $8.95/dinner). Vegetarian options abound at Siam Square, as sweet-and-sour veggies such as zucchini, carrots, and baby corn seamlessly synthesize with tofu ($9.50).
Krua Khun Yah's vast lunch and dinner menus encapsulate the many and varied flavors of Thailand's culinary history with dishes such as massaman curry, tamarind duck, and Bangkok beef. Chefs willingly adjust the spice level of dishes based on how many ounces of sweat bead on customers' brows from just the smell. Authentic ingredients include rich coconut milk and native chilies, and fresh ingredients come from local farmers' markets. Meals are also cooked in pure vegetable oil to bring out each flavor, coaxing any shy ingredients out of hiding.
Tom Yum Koong's chefs build on traditional Thai recipes to load their menu with exciting and eclectic ingredients ranging from tangerines and mango to wild boar and squid. Sugar and spice join forces to season the thick sauce simmering in the black-pepper-mango curry ($10.95), a flavorful bowl of vegetables and cashews mixed with a choice of meat. A medley of seameats such as mussels and squid sizzle in the Phuket fried rice ($10.95), and the fantasy tilapia ($13.95) takes time off from reading J.R.R. Tolkien to glide out of the kitchen atop a bed of veggies simmering in chili sauce. Basil leaves join peppers, onion, and pork in a skittering dance across the skillet in the pan-fried wild-boar basil ($9.95). Fresh-fish cravings recede at the sushi bar to prevent persistent urges to trawl through exhibits at the local aquarium.