Review: Bangkok Thai Garden
370 Dalhousie St., Ottawa – (613) 789-1888
Date of Visit: December 4, 2012
I have passed this restaurant and perused their menu many times and I decided it was high time I actually gave it a try. I spent a leisurely and pleasant couple of hours there on my most recent trip to Ottawa and, though I don’t really think I can claim it to be the best Thai restaurant I have ever eaten at, it was nonetheless a worthwhile visit…
Ambience and Service
I attended the restaurant very early on a Tuesday evening and was the first to arrive for the supper hour. The place, which would seat about 70 when full, remained empty but for one other customer who arrived during my visit and it certainly seemed as though this establishment does not enjoy a roaring trade ( although I did hear the woman at the bar take a number of telephone orders). Aside from the unfortunate emptiness, the place was otherwise comfortable and nicely appointed.
The service was very polite and efficient during my time there. The waiter who served me left me alone when I first came in but it was clear that this was intended to give me time to peruse the menu and was far preferable to the overeager types who pop up every thirty seconds wanting to know if you are ready to order. He came over to take my drink order immediately he saw I had stopped reading and every dish I ordered after that arrived within 10 minutes.
Tom Yum Kung – This is a classic in Thai cuisine and is described on the menu as being a hot and sour soup with shrimp, lemongrass, galanga and mushrooms. The actual dish, when it arrived, also came with baby corn and, though the other promised ingredients were present, the dish fell short of my expectations. It was not at all sour, only mildly hot (more from pepper than chili), and, though it was rather heavy with galanga, I couldn’t detect any lemongrass at all. The result wasn’t particularly bad at all but I have had better at other restaurants and only felt it was worth a rating of 2 out of 5.
Taud Man Pla– I have not had this dish before and I it was certainly interesting. The menu describes it as Fish Cakes with cucumber, peanuts and sweet and sour sauce but the peanuts and cucumber, both finely chopped are actually a part of the sauce. The cakes were not the flaky fish I anticipated, rather the fish is ground to a paste with some sort of flour before being seasoned and deep fried. The resultant texture is what makes the dish, and the effect is of a dense, strangely ( albeit pleasantly) rubbery consistency that ‘squeaks’ to the bite. The flavor was unfortunately not well balanced as the delicate fish taste was almost entirely masked by an overuse of galanga and not much else in the way of seasonings was detectable. The sauce, tasting very much like Chinese plum sauce, really added nothing but a background sweetness and all other components were, again, overwhelmed by the galanga. Still, all that being said, I am glad I tried this and am happy to rate it at a 3 out of 5.
Pork Satay – This standby was, as is most common, served with a peanut sauce. I am not a huge fan of peanut sauces generally but I have to say that this one was very good. The pork, which wasn’t heavily seasoned, other than having a definite sweetness, was very succulent and came in a much more generous serving than I anticipated. It was difficult to particularize the components of the sauce but the well- rounded ‘curry’ quality really complimented the meat. I gave this effort a 4 out of 5.
All in all, I wasn’t wowed by anything I ate here but it was still all enjoyable and decently prepared. The service was good, if a little formal, and I was able to relax and enjoy myself. I would definitely come back on a future visit to the capital, perhaps to to try one of the more substantial curries.