Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 513 S Carrollton. 504-861-3932. Map.
AE DC DS MC V
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
It’s the city’s longest-running Thai restaurant, originally opened by one of the more creative souls to purvey this cuisine. His food was always good, but his premises never were. To many people, however, minimal surroundings equates with authenticity, and so the place has a large number of loyal regulars who say this is the best Thai restaurant in town. It isn’t. The menu is interesting and at its best the food is exciting, but it’s inconsistent.
As Thai menus go, this one is offbeat enough to be worthy of notice. They do more with fish (they often serve pompano!) and duck than most other Thai places. Dishes not seen in any other local Thai place are sprinkled through the menu. Those who measure goodness of a restaurant by portion size may not be entirely pleased, but the prices seem fair enough.
The history of this place reaches back to the mid-1980s, when a Thai man whose name I have forgotten (it will come to me in the middle of the night someday and I’ll install it here) opened a grubby but good restaurant on Canal Street. There was only one other Thai restaurant then. He moved it a couple of times before winding up at the foot of Carrollton Avenue in the early 1990s, where Bangkok Thai has been ever since. The restaurant has changed hands at least twice since then. It immediately attracted students and teachers from Tulane and Loyola, which still form a large percentage of the clientele.
The dark, well-worn dining room gets most of its decor from Thai travel posters and other wall hangings that should have been replaced a long time ago. The most often-heard comment about the premises is, “It’s next door to Cooter Brown’s.”
Goong naree (spicy shrimp fried in rice paper)
Chicken or shrimp satay (grilled on skewers, with peanut sauce)
Fried calamari with red curry
Coconut milk soup with chicken or shrimp
Thai spicy-sour soup with shrimp
Silver noodle salad with chicken
Yellow Thai curry with vegetables
Red curry with pork or beef
Green curry with chicken or shrimp
Panang curry with pork or shrimp
Masaman curry with chicken
Thai basil sautee with beef, duck or shrimp
Thai garlic sautee with shrimp or chicken
Thai ginger sautee with beef
Thai barbecue chicken
Wide noodles with shrimp or chicken
Pineapple fried rice with chicken and sausage
Chili and garlic pompano
Catfish with Thai basil
Mango with sweet sticky rice
FOR BEST RESULTS
The soups, seafood, and duck are the most exciting dishes. Make sure everything is too stove-hot to eat when it arrives. Be sure to tell the waiter how pepper-hot you want the food; the inclination is to back off the chilies, which makes the eating much less interesting.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I personally wish they’d close the place for a few weeks and give it a Katrina-style gutting and renovation.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -2
- Consistency -1
- Value +1
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color +1
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open some holidays
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
I suppose there is such a thing as a bad Thai restaurant, but although this is my least favorite of the local Thai places, you could do much worse than to eat here. I find the food lacking in polish and balance, and the consistency record is less than perfect. I also find the environment somewhat depressing. On the other hand, the prices are low and I’ve never had a bad dish here.