Ever since Beau Thai grew up, decided it was too good for us plebes in Bloomingdale, and moved across town to its fancy new digs, they’ve left us their little redheaded half-brother, BKK Cookshop, to help absorb the shock and sadness of their sudden departure. That was like…three years ago. I’m a little bitter.
So tonight was my first real time there, and it was also luckily a beautiful night to sit on their patio! Just by looking at their menu, you can tell that BKK Cookshop isn’t here to upstage your neighborhood Thai place, which is good because I am unusually attached to my personal neighborhood Thai place and I will fight you if you try to insinuate that your place is better (Aroi shout out!) BKK is a different beast, all interesting noodles, simple but tasty cocktails, and dim sum-like appetizers. Speaking of simple but tasty cocktails, here’s my tart, limey, strong Bangkok Mule!
There was significant negotiation involved in choosing one appetizer because they all looked so good. We finally settled on the steamed buns because we were able to choose three different flavors: spicy pork, sweet black bean, and panang chicken. Steamed buns are so nostalgic for me, probably because I haven’t had great ones since I left my home state of California more than ten years ago and they always remind me of dim sum brunch in San Francisco. The black bean ones were just like those ones, with a rich but not cloying sweetness. The pork was soft, well spiced but not spicy, and the panang was both meaty and saucy, the clear winner.
Then came the entrees: I had the sukiyaki bowl and husband ordered the coconut curry bowl and a side of son-in-law eggs. The eggs were slightly overcooked and the sauce was syrupy and not super tamarind-y, but it was definitely interesting. The bowls were both so different in their own ways from our usual Thai fare that it’s hard to even compare them. I liked the rich herbaceousness of the Sukiyaki broth and the abundant veggies, especially the Chinese broccoli, which lent its subtle bitterness to counter the salinity of the broth. The coconut curry was good too, made with a yellow curry that doesn’t make it into my husband’s usual Thai rotation of panang and more panang. The only issue with it was the bone-in chicken that populated his soup for the second week in a row. This guy just cannot catch a break! The good news is that it was very fall-apart-y, and we all know that dark meat is the superior meat. But come on, guys. Throw him a bone (heeeeee!) and just strip the chicken before you put it in a soup. This is my basic thought when it comes to shellfish too; if I’m paying you for my food, you had better be doing all the work.
Sadly, all of our dishes were originally served gringo-style and although I was happy to not be wrestling with these noodles armed only with chopsticks, we were both much happier after we requested the spice tray￼ and gave our soups some proper nasal-drip-inducing seasoning. No matter how many times I pushed my bowl of leftover liquid away, I couldn’t stop eating the broth. Now I have sloshy-belly.
Price: $25 per person.
Bottom line: BKK Cookshop is not a replacement for your favorite Thai joint. Instead, you will find a place for it in your heart that you never knew existed.￼ Like the bastard brother of fancy-pants Beau Thai, this place doesn’t get the attention or recognition it deserves. Next time you need some hot and tasty soup, show some love to BKK.