119 Main Street
New Paltz, NY 12561
Lunch & Dinner, 7 Days
Every regional cuisine has unique characteristics, usually predicated on the local food crops, regional herbs and spices, and local cultural or religious preferences – or taboos. Nowhere is this more in focus than in the cuisine of Thailand. Like many eastern cuisines, the cook will balance sweet with sour, salty with spicy. Appearance and texture is given more attention than in western cookery, with picture perfect presentations typically plated on serving vessels suitable for gallery viewing all by themselves.
Among the myriad styles of cookery, I find Thai cooking unique for a number of reasons. Like everyone else, they focus on their own regional aromatic herbs and spices: lemongrass is probably the most well known, or galangal, a ginger-like addition to many dishes often mixed with lime juice. Unique Thai curries are often featured, along with coconut milk, and different types of chilies.
What I find most fascinating however is the way that the flavor components of Thai cooking do not blend together in our traditional sense. For example, in western European cooking, you would blend equal parts of onion, celery, and carrot to form a mirepoix. That culinary standard – or the regional variations on that theme: sofrito, the trinity, etc. – are the base for thousands of recipes and the result has its own unique flavor. Not so in Thai cooking. You blend the spicy, salty, sweet and sour components together in a dish, but they do not really “blend” together. Each flavor remains, and bounces around in your mouth, one distinct from the other, but all at once. I find it fascinating, and distinctly Thai.
The menu here at Bangkok Café offers examples of all of the above, and the kitchen executes them well. They also have a very nice bar with a selection of Thai beers, and a serviceable choice of wine if that is your preference. (But that’s just not done with Thai food).
On our last visit we sampled a number of appetizers: grilled marinated beef, skewers of grilled chicken satay, and a wonderful bowl of spicy Tom Yum soup, a Thai classic frequently paired with shrimp or a mix of seafood. The kitchen here offers both variations.
If I had to choose a favorite dish, and the one not to be missed, it would be another classic Thai standard, Pad Thai – rice noodle, tossed with egg, bean sprouts, and minced green onion, served with ground peanuts. Delicious.
According to the restaurant’s Facebook Page, live entertainment is provided frequently on Saturday nights.