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.
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.
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."
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.