I've been meaning to visit Bangkok Garden in Columbia, MD since friends reported that the restaurant has a Thai language menu available to try. Equipped with a makeshift photocopy of an approximate translation of the menu, we dropped in last weekend for lunch.
We started with their papaya salad. However, instead of the usual dried shrimp, we got a version that used padaek, or raw brined blue crab. The flavor was fresh, salty, spicy and very good.
Our second dish was a crudite dish with a dip called Naam Prik Gapi which was a sweet and very spicy shrimp paste. We dipped veggies like baby corn, thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, cucumber, and broccoli, and we got a small whole grilled fish to eat with the dip as well.
Our third plate took a break from the spiciness. It was a straightforward dish of Chinese broccoli cooked with chunks of pork belly.
Our final dish, the spiciest of the meal, was Khang Som Cha-Om , a sour red curry broth with shrimp and pieces of acacia omelette. Acacia is a green leafy vegetable. I'm not sure what it tastes like because the curry was so hot, but the texture in the omelette reminded me of spinach.
When we ordered our meal, one of the other waitresses came out to our table because she said that she had not seen non-Thai customers order some of the dishes we selected.
The Thai menu has at least 20 or more items that, considering how good this lunch was, warrant return trips to explore.
5810 Robert Oliver Place
Columbia, MD 21045