Friday, June 12, 2009

Noodle necessities at Bann Thai

Until Bann Thai (warning: music plays on website), I hadn't had very good luck with the Thai restuarants in Fort Collins. First, there was the non-pad thai at Lulu's Asian Bistro, followed by laughably bad pad see-ew and pad thai at Toy's Thai. The pad-see ew at Thai Pepper was even worse, though the pad thai was decent. And things were a little better at Sri Thai, but not by much.

It wasn't until I ate at Ti Bar that things started really looking up. And now that I've gone to Bann Thai a few times, I can rest easy knowing that I have not one, but two places to get a good plate of Thai-style noodles.
On a rainy evening after catching a late-afternoon screening of Sunshine Cleaning (great movie by the way), four of us ducked into cozy little Bann Thai, all of us there for the first time. We each ordered green tea, which came bagged, and in individual, Western-style teapots. While I liked the fact that I could refresh my cup at will, the tea was noticeably lacking in flavor and body. If it hadn't been chilly outside, I would have definitely opted for a Thai iced coffee or tea instead.
To start, we got an order of the cream cheese wontons, which were as good as you might expect when you're deep-frying cream cheese. The wrapper was greaseless, the sweet chili dipping sauce appropriate, and it was altogether a pleasant little appetizer.
The menu said that guay teaw kua was "wide rice noodles stir-fried with egg, pickled radish, green onion flavored with soy sauce, topped with crispy egg noodles, served with lettuce." I wasn't sure what to expect from that description; it was the "topped with crispy egg noodles" part that got me—I assumed they would only be a garnish. So when my dish arrived, I was surprised by the heaping amount on top; clearly the noodles were meant to be a main ingredient.

And as an ingredient, they worked quite well, though I felt like a bit of a blob afterward for eating such an oil-saturated dish: the crisp strands lent the soft, elastic rice noodles a nice textural contrast. Plus, I'm not sure how they seasoned it, but the flavor of the dish overall (I asked for mine to be made with pork) was pretty addictive.
Several weeks later I was back again, this time with MC and a friend of hers. I'd already nabbed bites of the very serviceable pad thai last time, and I wanted to try out the pad see-ew. It was pretty good, though like the guay teaw kua it wasn't made with the very broad rice noodles I love the most (haven't seen that yet in Fort Collins at all, actually).

In short: for pad see-ew, Bann Thai. For pad thai, Thai Pepper/Ti Bar (they share a kitchen) or Bann Thai. Whew—I don't have to go without my two beloved noodle dishes after all!

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