29 August 2008

Bangkok Wok - Mechanicsburg

Overall Rating: Yippee!
Highlight: great selection, great taste
Lowlight: cramped for space
Veggie Note: The staff here clearly understand the vegetarian diet; the menu indicates all vegetarian and vegan dishes and also specifically requests that you tell your server if you are vegetarian or vegan so they may prepare your food accordingly :)

We made a special trip here, for dinner with a non-veggie friend, after hearing several good reviews of the food here (from a non-vegetarian perspective).

Thai food is what we crave when something hot and spicy is on our minds. We have not explored the world of Thai food in the Harrisburg area yet and a few folks from work had said Bangkok Wok really is the best Thai in the area, so we thought we'd put that to the test. The restaurant is very casual, located in a strip mall in a fairly overdeveloped commercial area just outside the Mechanicsburg Naval Base. It's amusingly decorated outside, imagine waking through a tropical jungle to get to the front door and you can pretty much get the picture. That theme follows you through the door and slaps you in the face with visual overstimulation. There are decorative bits of Thailand everywhere. We were seated at a booth like table, it was a little tight for two to sit on the bench (and we are average sized people). However, we were seated right away and our server was very quick to take a drink order. It took us quite a while to pour through the menu, it was like a short novel. We were so excited about all of the choices and very pleased to find clear markings of what is vegan and vegetarian on the menu. Every page had a note at the bottom requesting that you tell your server if you are vegetarian/vegan as well. When we ordered, we made sure to do this. Our server looked puzzled at or statement at first, but then when we pointed at the note in the menu, it seemed to click for her.

We had the following:

Nothing complimentary served here

Veggie Roll - this item is not listed on the online menu, but was in the printed menu and listed as Vegan. It is essentially a spring roll with bean thread noodles, carrots, cabbage, etc... It was very fresh and the roll was light and crispy. It came with a side of Pineapple dipping sauce which was very nice as well.


Tom Ka Kai - again, in the print menu the option to have this soup with tofu is given (online only chicken is listed). We asked the waitress if the soup is prepared vegetarian if tofu was used and she said yes. The broth was a rich coconut and lime base, pleasantly saltier than the sweet broth my partner thought it might end up being. The tofu pieces were big and tasty, not like the tiny bits usually found in soups like Miso. There were mushrooms, tasty bits of fresh ginger root, and fresh Thai basil finishing off this very delicious soup.


Green Curry with fried tofu - all of the curries on the menu are available with mixed vegetables or with fried tofu. This one said it was the hottest curry of them all, but it really wasn't that hot (too bad really - it would have been enjoyed a little hotter). The ingredients were very fresh tasting, including green beans and snow peas that didn't come across as frozen reheats. The pieces of bamboo shoot were also nicely sliced into julienne strips instead of the slabs you sometimes get in cheap Asian dishes. Overall this dish was a hit.

Masaman Curry with fried tofu - this dish was listed as one star hot, but it really was not spicy at all. In fact, it was quite creamy and sweet. The peanut sauce was absolutely heavenly, the kind of thing that makes you almost put your plate to your face and start licking the last little bits off. It came served with onions and potatoes, in addition to the fried tofu. There was enough here for two people really - that goes for all the dishes we got. They all went home with us and were reheated for lunch (and once again, one very unusual breakfast) the next day.

Chicken with Thai Basil and Hot Peppers - this obviously is not vegetarian, but since our friend ordered it, and you may want to take along a meatatarian yourself, I thought it couldn't hurt to post some comments here. The waitress recommended this dish to our friend. She said it was pretty spicy and our friend asked to have it made super spicy. It was still not as hot as we expected it to be when it came out. The basil was overwhelming in this dish, so I would recommend steering clear of this one if you're not a basil fan (of course that would be obvious to most by the name of the dish). The sauce was dark and also had pieces of hot pepper floating in it. The chicken was really well made, not cheap little bits, but quality pieces of fresh chicken. They got a big thumbs up from our friend. With a little bit of the peanut sauce stolen from my dish, this ended up being a very good dinner also.

Jasmine Rice - came with all of our dishes. We asked for extra as we plowed through ours and it was quickly brought to us. It was plain jasmine rice, nothing fancy added, but that was great since our dishes all had a lot of flavor on their own.

Just a few other notes:

Bangkok Wok is a BYOB restaurant. We took a couple bottles of beer in with us. We asked for a bottle opener and they found us one, but they didn't seem prepared for us to need one, so maybe a lot of folks don't show up with their own beer?

In addition to decorations all over the walls, etc... Our table was also loaded with flowers, fancy light fixtures, etc... which made it a real challenge to fit our dishes on. Each of us received a bowl of rice, a bowl with our entree and we already had a plate in front of us when we sat down. That coupled with water glasses, etc... It was kind of a challenge. I can't imagine how we would have dealt with all four seats filled at our table. The traditional, non-booth tables looked a little bigger, so if you need space, you might want to ask for one of those.

They may be a little afraid of serving dishes too spicy here. Our friend who asked for "extra spicy" pointed out to us that our server looked as though she thought we might not know what we were getting into by asking for things very spicy. You might want to make a point of letting them know you are serious about having very spicy food if that's what you really want. If you are afraid of spicy, than you should still be okay here.

Final thoughts: This really is a great place for vegetarians to get good Thai food. No need to dress up, but you might want to plan on a wait as it got super crowded here as the night went on. I am certain we will return here soon, if for nothing else, to get some of that peanut sauce to go!

1 comment:

Nattydam said...

do they use fish sauce in any of the veggie dishes?