Bangkok Thai Cuisine's owner and manager tell us about their favorite dishes, how spicy is too spicy and the differences between their food and Chinese food.
With authentic Thai dishes — including many vegetarian — and a few original ones too, the Bangkok Thai Cuisine restaurant has tried to offer something different in the year and a half it’s been open and drawing a lunch rush.
Owner Sopita Limphong only spends six months here in Dover — spending the remainder in Bangkok, Thailand, where she has another business — while her sister Pattareeya Finger manages the restaurant year-round.
Q Why did you decide to open Bangkok Thai Cuisine?
A Sopita: In the big city, we have a lot of Thai restaurants but here in Dover it’s hard to find Asian food, like Thai restaurant, so we decide to open here.
Q What kind of customers do you get at the restaurant?
A Sopita: Many, many [kinds]. One is the military because we are not too far from the Air Force base. Military come on their lunchtime.
And Pilipino, a lot are around here, Vietnamese, some Thai. Many people — especially the people that move from the big city and now are in Delaware — and so we have a chance to get more customers. In the big city there is a lot of Thai food; they know about Thai food already. Thai cuisine becomes easy.
Q Do you get some people coming in who are from the area who haven’t had much Thai food?
A Sopita: Sure. Some people live here — local people — and then they saw the sign and OK try and then come back. They love it because it’s more options to have something different.
Q What are the most popular dishes people order?
A Sopita: The most popular noodle dishes are Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles. Pad Thai is a choice of meat stir fried with rice noodles, peanuts, bean sprouts, scallions, egg and tofu in tamarind sauce. Drunken Noodles is a choice of meat stir fried with rice noodles, basil, onion, tomatoes and chili sauce. Also the Thai curry is very popular.
Q Do you think those are the most popular because people are somewhat familiar with them already?
A Pattareeya: Those are traditional dishes that you can find in every Thai restaurant. A lot of regulars start with those popular ones and then try others. Sometimes people will try something because they like the name like Volcano Bamboo.
Q Do you have any dishes that are unusual to find in a Thai restaurant?
A Pattareeya: We have Bangkok rib; nobody can find it anyplace. We made up a sweet and sour sauce that is very special. We have a crabmeat fried rice with real crab meat. Mostly customers will ask me, “Is that real crabmeat or imitation?” They want the real crab.
Q Is the food authentic or has it been Americanized?
A Pattereeya: It’s not American at all. Every sauce we use is all Asian and Thai blend. Everything is imported from Thailand.
Q So you don’t try to tone down the spiciness?
A Pattereeya: Customers when they hear about Thai food they think “Oh, hot.” When they see the menu there are symbols of pepper [to tell how hot it is]. Everything we can do mild, medium, hot and Thai hot.
I’m surprised right now Americans eat hot, some want Thai hot. I do not eat that hot at all; I eat hot, but not Thai hot. Maybe, the Mexican food is hot so people get used to it.
Q What do you think is the best dish?
A Pattereeya: If I could come to the restaurant, I would want to order Drunken Noodles.
Sopita: For me, it’s Volcano Bamboo; it’s a very nice one. It’s chicken, beef or pork stir fried with homemade honey sauce served with steamed broccoli and spicy sauce.
Q Anything else you want to add?
A Pattereeya: Many customers ask us what is the difference between Thai food and Chinese food; they think it’s the same. It’s not. I’ve never seen Chinese cook with rice noodles. Even wonton soup it’s totally different; they make it thicker.
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