Downtown Bangkok Cafe, Phoenixville, PA – A Second Look

by artfuldiner on July 1, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Downtown Bangkok Cafe - Interior 2Downtown Bangkok Café, 705 Pothouse Road, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, (610) 933-4800,

  Yaowapa and Jerry Kowal opened Yaowapa Thailand Treasures, a retail gift shop majoring in handmade imports, in 2009… But in 2015, the couple’s passion for their culinary heritage got the better of them; and the Downtown Bangkok Café, their sedate 48-seat restaurant, made its debut.

The four diminutive dining rooms and reception area are a tribute to Mr. Kowal’s skill as an engineer and importer, as they are warmly and intimately appointed… right down to the elephant-adorned silverware. You realize immediately that this isn’t going to be just another one of those bare-bones cookie-cutter ethnic eateries. And you also need have no fears with regard to the quality of the culinary offerings, as Chef Yaowapa Kowal’s lovingly prepared & presented Thai cuisine is as sedate and sophisticated as the surroundings.

I first reviewed Downtown Bangkok in August 2016 and have returned on numerous occasions since. It is clearly the type of restaurant with which one strikes up a long-term relationship. No matter how many times you’ve dined here, the food and ambiance will woo you back again and again. Whether trying a new dish or settling in with an old favorite this wonderful little eatery will not disappoint.

Downtown Bangkok Cafe - Crispy Spring RollRecently sampled starters have included the coin-size Fish Cakes spiced with red curry; steamed Thai Dumplings stuffed with a combo of ground pork, chicken, shrimp, white fish, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots; and the Butterfly Blanket, five fried dumplings stuffed with ground chicken and served with a delightfully tangy sweet and sour sauce. My favorite, however, remains the scrumptious Vegetable Spring Rolls (pictured). Served with or without chicken, they sport an irresistibly crispy countenance and, cut on the bias & artfully arranged, they are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. Another coup for the kitchen.

When I can’t make up my mind, however, there is always the incomparably delicious Thai Salad. Shredded Napa cabbage and carrots, fresh soy beans, and crispy noodles are tossed with a house-made peanut dressing (for a modest supplement, you may also add chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp). A smattering of peanuts provides additional crunch, while a sliced hard-boiled egg contributes a contrasting textural dimension. Color and texture are right on the money… but it is the incredibly addictive peanut dressing that makes this dish such a fantastic starter.

Downtown Bangkok Cafe - Basil Eggplant Stir Fry w PorkEntrée-wise, I’m extremely partial to the Drunken Man Noodles, winning a combo of onion, bell pepper, basil, egg, carrots, broccoli, and scallions served up “medium spicy.” Recently, however, I sampled the Pad Met Ma-Muang – a stir-fry comprised of carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, green beans, water chestnuts, cashews, and choice of protein (in my case, ground pork) – which was quite good. My nod to the most gastronomically engaging stir-fry, however, clearly goes to the Basil Eggplant (pictured). The Japanese eggplant is perfectly prepared, infusing its own unique aura into a colorful amalgam of bell peppers, onions, scallions, and racy fresh basil. And all the constituents luxuriate in a beautifully balanced sauce of tamarind, soy, ginger, and host of seasonings that add a marvelous intensity of flavor without adding weight.

Downtown Bangkok Cafe - Crispy Duck with Tamarind SauceThe restaurant also sports a number of specialties that are definitely worthy of attention… The delightfully crunchy Coconut Shrimp and Thai Salmon, either fried or steamed, immediately come to mind… But if Chef Kowal has a signature dish, it is undoubtedly her sumptuous Crispy Duck (pictured). The half duck is prepared with a zesty tamarind sauce and sided by jasmine rice. And priced at a mere $22.50, the most expensive item on the menu, it is also quite the bargain.

For dessert, the house-made coconut and mango ice creams are highly recommended.

The Downtown Bangkok Café continues to be a marvelously satisfying dining experience. Just don’t forget to make reservations and to BYOB.

Bon Appétit!


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