I am always on the lookout for decent Thai food, and was quite surprised when a friend (who lived in Thailand last year) recommended Bangkok Joe’s to me. Bangkok Joe’s is located on a touristy stretch of Georgetown’s Waterfront, which houses several outdoor bars and restaurants that turn out mediocre food, overpriced drinks, and one of the most fratastic scenes in town.
Bangkok Joes, though, seems to be the exception. The interior is modern and classy, with dim lighting, sleek booths, and Asian accents adding to the ambience. A dumpling station filled with huge steamers dishes out plates of delectable-looking dumplings while patrons sip on colorful cocktails at the bar.
My boyfriend and I arrived at about 9 p.m. on Friday night and were seated promptly at a booth inside (the outdoor tables were packed). We started with an order of pork ‘n crab shu mai ($7.50), which in hindsight, may have been a mistake to order at a Thai restaurant. The shu mai were much bigger than usual and filled to the brim with pork and crab. But in the end, they were just ok–nothing too memorable or mind-blowing, plus they were twice the price of regular shu mai. Maybe we should have gone with something a bit more Thai-inspired; but for reasons I’ll mention later, I would actually skip the dumplings altogether next time.
For our main courses, we ordered the panang curry noodles with grilled shrimp (a whopping $17.95–but worth the price) and the chicken basil rice bowl ($12.95). Panang curry, not to be confused with its spicy red curry counterpart, is sweeter and creamier due to its use of coconut milk and peanuts. Bangkok Joe’s version tasted both traditional and modern: it certainly had a lot of peanuts and coconut milk, but somehow, it tasted lighter and fresher than other versions I’ve had. The addition of steamed spinach and bean sprouts gave nice color and crunch to the dish, while the grilled shrimp seemed to be just an afterthought. And those rice noodles–wide, chewy, and yummy–soaked up the curry perfectly.
At $17.95, this dish was not cheap by any stretch. But, the portion was huge and it did last us for 3 meals as leftovers!
The chicken basil rice bowl ($12.95) may not look too tasty–but in this case, looks can be very, very deceiving. The dish was a hodge podge of ground chicken, green beans, scallions, Thai basil and bell peppers stir-fried in a spicy chili-garlic-basil sauce. Talk about complex layers of flavor–this dish had tons of them. There was crunch from the green beans, sweetness from the bell peppers, heat from the chicken, and subtle spice from the sauce, all of which came together for a flavor-packed bite. It was simply delicious. And once again, the portion size was so substantial that we had to take home plenty of leftovers.
Bangkok Joe’s stands out from its Waterfront neighbors for its upscale Thai cuisine, large portions, and good value. Next time you find yourself stranded on the Georgtown Waterfront with an empty stomach, head straight to Bangkok Joe’s where both your tummy and your wallet (and your fridge at home) will be satisfied.
3000 K St.
Washington, DC 20007