The CU area has a plethora of Asian restaurants to cater to the many cultures and tastes of the student body and neighboring residents. Chinese and Korean restaurants are the most common, but Bangkok Thai, a new restaurant located in Savoy Plaza (in between the Schnuck’s and the movie theater), offers a taste of Thailand with its famous regional dishes.
The restaurant offers a wide variety of Thai foods, including standard dishes such as Pad Thai and Pad See Ew. Other menu items include appetizers, such as chicken satay, egg rolls and crab rangoon, non-traditional salads (like the papaya salad — papaya, carrots, string beans, crushed peanuts and tomatoes over a bed of lettuce), noodle soups, Thai soups, noodle dishes, vegetarian options, regular entrees, curries and desserts. The menu also comes complete with pictures to help identify some of the various dishes.
The owner, Tommy Chanthaluxay — it required a flash of his driver’s license to get the spelling right — came to the United States in the 1980s as a refugee from Laos. He has lived in Illinois for over 30 years, opening restaurants and grocery stores.
“I love the food business. I like to cook, like to do different things with food. It’s what my passion is,” said Chanthaluxay on why he got into the food industry.
The cuisine at Bangkok Thai consists of “a lot of traditional food,” said Chanthaluxay. Its signature dishes, Chanthaluxay said, are the Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup.
“We cook with a lot of herbs, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir limes and kaffir leaves,” Chanthaluxay added.
Bangkok Thai just opened in Savoy on March 5, although Chanthaluxay owns other Bangkok Thai restaurants in Charleston and Monticello. The location of the restaurant in the Savoy Plaza mall has been the home to many other Thai/Vietnamese restaurants (Saigon, Saigon to Bangkok), but Chanthaluxay wants his customers to know that his restaurant is different from those of the previous owners. Some of his customers are old diners walking into a new restaurant; others drive by and get curious.
“Business is picking up every day,” Chanthaluxay said.
Although a bit of a ride, Bangkok Thai is worth the travel. The restaurant has a banquet room feel, complete with some Asian artwork and plasma screen TVs playing the Food Network for entertainment.
Service was great. The hostess, who also doubled as a waitress, was attentive, patient and extremely nice. Water was always refilled, and food came out quickly. Chanthaluxay is friendly, too, finding time to chat with old customers while still managing to run the restaurant.
The food paid good homage to cuisine from back home. The Mussamun curry, a slightly sweet, coconut milk curry served with choice of meat or tofu, peanuts, onions and potatoes, all served over rice, was delicious. It had a touch of spice, but it was not overpowering. The Pad Thai — “thin rice noodles with eggs, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and green onions in Chef’s special sauce” — was another good dish that came in a large portion. Both entrees could easily have been split and/or shared with another person. On the way out, Chanthaluxay suggested trying the beef noodle soup upon a return trip, saying it is one of his favorites.
For more information on the restaurant, check out its Facebook page by searching Bangkok Savoy. Its website should be running within the next couple weeks. Public transportation can take you there: The 1S Yellow bus stops at the closest intersection at Woodfield and Curtis.