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Bangkok Pavilion review

Bangkok Duck, crispy boneless duck topped with spicy

Bangkok Duck, crispy boneless duck topped with spicy tamarind sauce, fresh basil and vegetables, is an excellent choice at Bangkok Pavilion in Kings Park. (Nov. 16, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

Bangkok Pavilion in Kings Park inhabits a quirkily shaped corner spot that has housed a string of Thai predecessors. This is one of the prettiest occupants, with elegant fabric-back chairs, tasteful Thai art and polished wood surfaces. Accordingly, service is on point.

And so, for the most part, is chef Settapat Bunnak's repertoire, which the restaurant calls "authentic Thai." That authenticity comes through in the properly hot and sour tom yum goong, a crimson soup floating fat shrimp. But tom kha gai -- chicken coconut lime soup -- is far sweeter than it should be. Is Bunnak playing to American tastes? Perhaps. But in the case of the Thai wonton soup, it hardly matters, since the broth is so flavorful, the dumplings so light. And if the garnish of fried garlic seems intrusive, it can be left out.

Crispy duck salad features deep-fried poultry with red onion, chili, lemon juice, tomato, scallion, cilantro, fresh apple and cashews. The menu calls it a "house creation" and, as such, it succeeds. But another invention, "Long Island noodles," brings together mushy linguine and vegetables in a characterless citrus-garlic- herb sauce. Don't expect a Billy Joel song about this one.

When he's cooking straightforwardly, Bunnak does very well. He makes an addictive pad Thai. And his pad see ew -- flat rice noodles with broccoli and egg -- is hyper-comforting. Better to order it with shrimp than with beef, which is chewy. Shrimp also works well in the pad kee mao, or drunken noodles, which carry a spicy basil kick. A quasi-Thai, pineapple fried rice, is served in a hollowed-out pineapple. A bit sweet, but not bad.

Both a red curry with pork and a mango curry with chicken excel. So, too, does spicy basil chicken, with its fiery punch. Bangkok duck is a standout, the poultry crisp and meaty, with a spicy undercurrent.

To mellow out: sliced mango with sweet sticky rice. Or pumpkin custard. Both are Thai classics. And Thai classics are what Bangkok Pavilion does best.

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