My first month after moving to Tokyo, there were three earthquakes, my laptop died a sad, quick death after I spilled tea on it, I was working until 1 or 2 am on a daily basis, I got food poisoning after eating raw chicken livers (in my defense, the menu listed them under the "grilled" section), and I came down with a severe cold that I couldn't shake for almost the entire month. On top of that, summer in Tokyo is excruciatingly, unbearably hot and humid. Needless to say, I was in a pretty miserable state.
Whenever I catch a cold, my go-to remedy is tom yum gai, Thai chicken soup. The lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf completely clear my sinuses, the hot broth sooths my throat, and the bright, fresh flavors inject life back into me. So after about three weeks of trying to fight my neverending cold, I decided I NEEDED tom yum gai. And it had to be REAL tom yum gai, not a Japanified, dumbed down version stripped of all flavor and spices.
After an hour or so of googling Thai restaurants in Tokyo, I decided to seek out Bangkok, a tiny Thai restaurant in the backstreets of Roppongi. I ordered tom yum gai. And it was perfect - so perfect, so comforting that I wanted to cry from joy. And that was when I decided I could survive Tokyo.
Bangkok serves up authentic Thai cuisine - spicy, sour, sweet, savory, intense flavors that delight your taste buds and take me back to memories of street food in Thailand and my favorite Thai restaurants in San Francisco. Strangely enough, this tiny Thai restaurant in a random location was the first thing in Tokyo that reminded me of home. I may not be Thai, but along with my grandma's Korean home cooking, Thai food is comfort food to me.
Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the tom yum gai, but below are some other terrific dishes by Bangkok.
Red chicken curry lunch set - 1000 yen gets you rice, curry, soup, tea, larb gai salad and dessert
Close-up of the red curry
Som tum - green papaya salad, a refreshing salad with the perfect blend of salty-sour-sweet-spicy, a trademark of Thai cuisine
Minced beef with basil - the default version on the menu is extra spicy, but we asked them to tone ours down a bit
Sticky rice with mango - a solidly executed version of the classic Thai dessert
Food rating: *** and a half (some of the best Thai in Tokyo)
Bang for buck rating: 3 (lunch is a great deal but dinner can get pricey)
Location: on the 2nd floor of the Woo building, on a small street behind the Don Quijote on Gaien Higashi in Roppongi. Close to Oakwood Roppongi
Average price of meal for two (dinner): 7000 yen (~$75)