Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Bangkok Blues

bluesreviewIt’s not Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday, and you’re desperate for a place that has bar bands and non-American food. Some people would find that to be an extremely unusual situation to be in, but this is a free country, so they can just sit on it. Luckily, you’re walking down West Broad Street for some reason and happen upon Bangkok Blues, a Falls Church culinary institution that was founded by Chai Siribongkot and his family after being heavily influenced by the music of United States soldiers staying in Thailand during the Vietnam war. This is clearly your lucky night.

bluesreviewIt’s not Monday, Tuesday or even Wednesday, and you’re desperate for a place that has bar bands and non-American food. Some people would find that to be an extremely unusual situation to be in, but this is a free country, so they can just sit on it. Luckily, you’re walking down West Broad Street for some reason and happen upon Bangkok Blues, a Falls Church culinary institution that was founded by Chai Siribongkot and his family after being heavily influenced by the music of United States soldiers staying in Thailand during the Vietnam war. This is clearly your lucky night.

Every low to mid-level blues or jazz band has played at Bangkok Blues, and for good reason. The owner is very generous towards the bands (unlike the vast majority of club-owners) and the drinks at the guitar-shaped bar are strong. Furthermore, since my favorite guitar store (Action Music, who would never get me out of the shop if I had more money) has recently moved directly behind the restaurant, this makes it one of the best places for a band to play.

What’s that? You’re not interested in live music played mostly by middle-aged men who probably had their rock n’ roll dreams crushed by reality/finances/children? That must mean you want Thai food. In that case, you’re sort of in the right place.

The food is by no means bad, but I fear that Bangkok Blues has become a place that exists almost entirely off their name rather than their product, like Grey Goose vodka or New York City. I was expecting the Tod Mun fish cakes to be sort of like crab cakes. Instead they were almost like small, orange hockey pucks, although they packed a lot of them into an appetizer order.

The spicy basil fried rice (with pork) was average, and lacked a sufficient amount of pork to appease my mighty hunger, although the pork that was there was juicy. The basil was an unusual touch, but not nearly as noticeable as I would like. When a dish mentions a spice in its name, it should be a prominent part of the dish.

However, the crispy seafood gra paw, a medley of shrimp, mussels (with the shells still on, so be sure to watch out for that), scallops, mushrooms, onions and chili peppers was a delicious and heavy dish that packed plenty of punch without being overwhelmingly spicy. The breading on the seafood is tasty, but not that crispy, so don’t expect a fried-chickenesque level of crispiness.

Is the food good? Fairly, but it seems that Bangkok Blues is trying to be more of a club for old rockers than an actual restaurant. Their Sunday open mic blues jam is nice and the bands that play there are usually pretty good, if not famous. But Bangkok Blues needs to decide whether it wants to be a great club or a great Thai restaurant. Trying to be both just leads to both sections being just OK at best, but once they decide on a path, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this place get too big for Falls Church.

Bangkok Blues is located at 926 W. Broad St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-534-0095 or visit bangkokblues.com. Restaurant hours are Thursday and Sunday 6 – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. – midnight.

 

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