Kiss kiss, bang bang
Bangkok Cuisine Express6170 Mae Anne Blvd., Suite 5
Reno, NV 89523
The original Bangkok Cuisine on Mount Rose Street is a personal favorite. It stands out distinctly as a buoy atop the sea of local Thai restaurants. It has an ambience that manages to blend class and comfort. Its food, though not absolutely perfect, might as well be, and there’s always enough for a full plate of leftovers for lunch the next day. I used to enjoy the leftovers even more than the original meal; this inspired a (misguided) theory that Thai food was actually better reheated.
The truth, I have discovered, is that Thai, like many spicy cuisines, is ideally suited to the middle of the day and casual dining. I made this happy discovery at the new Bangkok Cuisine Express. Rather than attempt to recreate the original, this spin-off does something different: It eschews the luxurious pace and serves the food at a frantic rate. That “Express” in the name is not to be ignored. They give you a number and rush the food out, entrees following quickly on the heels of appetizers.
This might give the impression of a meal served on fast forward, where one gets the gist while losing the flavor. But a more accurate analogy comes from the world of illegal drugs—rather than a leisurely puffed joint, this is a full-throttle bong rip. It gets the job done with as much pleasure in a much more concentrated dose. You can get in, get served, get full and get back to work in an hour—that is, if your work is located somewhere in Northwest Reno. The location isn’t exactly central, unlike the original Bangkok Cuisine, which, if it isn’t in the heart of Reno, it’s at least in one of the kidneys.
My dining companion Lauren and I started out with shrimp rangoons ($5.95 for seven), which were very good: crisp wontons wrapped around hot, sticky-sweet cream cheese, scallions and shrimp—all addictively flavorful.
I was still savoring my first bite when our entrees arrived. Lauren had the black pepper and garlic beef ($8.50) served on a perfectly complementary bed of iceberg lettuce, which begs the question: Why is iceberg lettuce only good in Thai dishes? I had the lunch combination plate ($6.50), which includes rice, a wonton and two entrees from a daily selection of five. On Saturdays, this includes chicken curry with mixed vegetables and the old standard-bearer, pud thai.
Pud thai has been one of my favorite dishes since I was a teenager. One day, when I was about 16—and this might’ve been the day I developed the reheating theory—I ate a huge plate of the stuff while taking a bath. (I was in a rather experimental phase, and fine dining and bathing seemed to go hand in hand.)
The combination of stir-fried noodles, sprouts, peanuts, egg, chicken, shrimp and tofu, when done well, is the ideal balance of flavors. At the original Bangkok, it’s pretty perfectly calibrated; at the Express, it didn’t strike me quite so highly. But it’s still a dish well worth hording in a bathtub.
The atmosphere at Bangkok Cuisine Express leaves little impression. It reminds me of those informal, slightly-more-upscale-than-fast-food (medium food?) chains. But this is beside the point. If you want nice ambience, go to the original Bangkok Cuisine. If you want a quick, inexpensive, quality lunch, visit Bangkok Cuisine Express.