Bangkok Lounge in Harpenden, a small Village like town situated between St Albans and Luton, serves traditional and authentic Thai food. The interior is intimately small, emulating a touch of Thailand with carved wood panelling, gold embellished buddhas and classic Thai artefacts adorning its walls.
The menu is extensive, thus making a decision on what you want to order quite challenging. We decided to opt for their lunch set menu priced at £8.95 for two courses, which was good value for money in comparison to their A La Carte menu, and a good introduction to sampling a few dishes without breaking the bank balance.
We ordered the mixed starter consisting of a vegetable spring roll and prawn toast.
The spring roll contained your classic Thai vegetables wrapped around a crisp filo pastry. Unfortunately, it lacked the exotic Thai flavours you would hope to experience in your first bite, and in essence tasted no different to supermarket version.
The prawn toast, which was deep fried in panko breadcrumbs was simply luscious. The bread retained its crispness and the minced prawn was moist and flavoursome. The panko breadcrumb coating transformed the humble prawn toast from what could have been dull and boring into something simply exquisite.
For mains we decided to sample one dish each from their Curry, Noodle and Stir Fry Section.
From the curry section we ordered the Thai Red Curry. The coconut flavour was subtle and not so overpowering against the other flavours. The chicken was moist and well seasoned and the whole dish was brought together beautifully with the right balance of creaminess from the coconut and heat from the red curry paste. If you are a lover of spicy food, Thai Red Curry is always a great choice.
From the noodle section we ordered the Guay Tiew Pad Kee Mao which is stir fried egg noodles in garlic, chilli and vegetables with lamb. The lamb pieces, although thinly sliced was ever so slightly over-cooked leaving a rubbery texture that made chewing difficult. The noodles were well lubricated in the garlic and chilli sauce that it dissolved effortlessly in the mouth. Overall, this dish was packed full of bold flavours with a generous serving of chunky vegetables which were still crunchy and perfectly cooked, thus retaining their natural goodness.
From the stir fry section we ordered the Nam Prig Paow which is stir fried vegetables in a garlic and chilli oil paste with beef. The beef was succulent and juicy, with each bite releasing the intense flavour of the sauce in which it was embedded in. The flavour of the sauce was rich, however, the chilli oil flavour was mild and didn’t really come through as the key element to this dish. The vegetables were well cooked with the right amount of crunch and the fresh coriander added a touch of freshness to the dish; the addition of something so simple as fresh herb really elevated this dish to a higher level. On the downside, the quantity of sauce was not adequate to coat all of the rice and, overall, it was our least favourite main dish.
Bangkok Lounge has true potential due to its location as only a handful, if that, of establishments in the area serve halal food, thus immediately attracting Muslim consumers. In addition, its exotic menu and equally understated exotic interior means Bangkok Lounge stands out from the many other eaterys in Harpenden which offer more traditional English cuisine amidst your usual high street eateries.
Disclaimer: Harpenden branch – All the meat is halal except duck. Bangkok Lounge has branches in Finchley and Shefford but please check the halal status for their other branches before dining.