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Nov 17, 1999 11:09 AM

The Best Thai Restaurant in Northern NJ

  • r

I'm not going to apologize for calling Bangkok Garden (261 Main St, Hackensack, 201-487-2620) the best Thai restaurant in Northern NJ (or LI frankly). It's certainly the best one Jason or I have ever been to and we've been to quite a few (including Topaz in NYC, New Main Taste in Chatham, NJ, and Siam Palace in Port Washington, NY, which are all quite good, each in its own way).

We went there for the umpteenth time this past weekend (not counting all the times Jason and his friend Jon have gone for dinner without me). Jon was with us again, and we shared several appetizers, and Jason & Jon shared their oft ordered Beef Salad and a green chicken curry, while I had panang shrimp with significantly less spicy heat. Both of these were on the specials list served over thin spaghetti, I'd prefer to get them just as curries served with rice (which is always available).

The restaurant is pleasantly decorated with souveniers, travel posters, what seem like altars, and an arrangement of fruit and rice in the entry. The servers are friendly and competant, and the host is always welcoming.

I recommend the following appetizers:
Satay - the pork is our favorite, but beef & chicken are also available, served with perfect peanut sauce, toast points and cucumber salad
Egg Rolls - we like the filling better in these better than that in the spring rolls, but those are good too, with thinner wrappers
Curry Puffs - Jay & Jon really like these
All the soups are good too, I love the tom yong goon (sp?)

Main Dishes:
Beef Salad - Jay & Jon always share this and some kind of curry. I can tell it's tasty and tangy, but they always get it too hot for me to enjoy :<
Any Curry - We've had most of them, they are always good. I especially like the duck and the massamon.
Fish - soft shell crabs are usually on the specials list, prepared in a variety of ways, the whole fish dishes are great, available steamed or fried.
Poultry - an assortment of chicken dishes are available, and when I'm more in a chinese mood, they have a selection of quasi-Chinese dishes to choose from. But, I usually get some kind of duck dish. Except for the curries, the duck entrees aren't served with vegetables, so I get an order of Thai Spinach for the table. Also, try the Volcano Chicken if you like (A) to call attention to yourself (it arrives aflame) and (B)chili paste, which is the predominant flavor.
Vegetarian - lots of choices.

Also, (recalling the Thai thread which got into the subjects of Indians and Thai food) there were at least four tables with Indians at them, one a large family. And, a guy I work with who was born in India and raised here (lives in Montclair) also says Bangkok Garden is his favorite Thai place.

It was quite busy on Saturday night, but we didn't have to wait for a table (those arriving a little later did (we got there around 8, people were waiting at 9), and it's usually quiet during the week. We've never made reservations here.

Oh yeah, the pad thai is pretty good, too! But unlike so many other Thai restaurants there's much more to choose from here.

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  1. New Main Taste did not taste like Thai food at all. We were steered towards overpriced specials and the phrase "you get what you pay for" was said numerous times to us when we tried to order less priced items on the menu.
    I recommend Thai Thai in Gilette.
    This is located on Valley Road.
    The menu is geared toward folks who eat authentic thai food, not americanized versions of the latter.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Mr. W.

      Yeah, New Main Taste is kinda pretentious. But, their "chicken curry of the day" is always good, their sate is decent as are their noodle dishes.

      I also think the hostess is kinda kinky. She manages to have that high-class dragon-lady thing going even though she's not asian. Ya know what I mean?

      Still my vote goes to Bangkok Garden for the sheer quality and vastness of choice, and if you come by Morristown Sirin Thai is also quite elegant but is less of a selection.

      Good thai is hard to come by in NJ.


      1. re: Jason Perlow

        We ate at thai thai on Saturday night. They were jammed, even with a reservation, we waited almost 30 minutes.. They may be closed on tuesdays, and thanksgiving, so call first. This place is awesome...
        Sirin in Morristown is not even worth my $. The owners are commited to serving lackluster food. Many of my friends have eaten here recently, with poor to bad reviews. Flavorless Curries, pallid soups, and gritty lettuces in the salads... There is nothing worse than breaking a tooth on gritty salad greens.

        (Although I haven't been there recently...) (after a few bad times at SIRIN, it is always worth it to drive to THAI THAI!!!)

        1. re: Mr. W.
          chris b. shaw

          Thai-Thai gets my vote!A Fantastic restaurant, sauces are clean and vibrant with just the right degree of spicieness! Service is always topnotch , and the bathrooms are always clean. They are in fact closed on Tuesdays. Not sure about Thanksgiving. If you are in NJ Thai-Thai is worth the drive. An extra added bonus is that it is BYOB.

          1. re: chris b. shaw

            Rachel and I will have to try it sometime soon.


            1. re: chris b. shaw

              I couldn't agree more. Thai Thai is FANTASTIC!

            2. re: Mr. W.

              Thai-Thai is located right accross Springfield Ave from Shop-Rite in Sterling. It is located next to a big liquor store.

              1. re: Mr. W.

                Where is Thai Thai located?

                1. re: Nancy

                  Where is thai thai located?

            3. re: Mr. W.
              Rachel Perlow

              It's a shame you had such an unpleasant experience at New Main Taste. We've found it to be very pleasant for when we want to stay local and upscale (more local and moderate is Sirin in Morristown, less local and less upscale than either is Pearl of Siam in Randolph). The problem is they usually only have one or two "curries of the day", so there isn't much of a choice. Their soups and appetizers are great. I usually order steamed fish and all the wonderful flavors of Thai food come through. No one has ever said "you get what you pay for" to us, and their pad thai happens to be excellent, if relatively expensive.

              1. re: Mr. W.

                "You get what you pay for" was said numerous times? I find that hard to believe. If any restaurant said that to me I would surely walk out.

              2. Has anyone tried the Morris Thai Rest. in the center of Union? We have had several good and moderately priced meals here; it is BYO too. Oh, and Mr.W. (and others): would you mind saying exactly where Thai Thai is - we don't all live in/know the same parts of NJ.

                Joe Moryl

                1 Reply
                1. re: Joe Moryl

                  I also agree that Morris Thai is great. Food is always fresh and good, very tasty and reaosnably priced. No one is ever in there and you always get good service.

                2. Pad Thai, in Highland Park, and Four Seasons, in Piscataway, get my vote for best Thai restaurants, without a doubt. Both are owned by the same folks. Yes, it does stretch the definition of North Jersey a bit, but both are well worth the drive. Pad Thai is a full-service (with booze) restaurant and Four Seasons is a little place, BYOB, half Asian grocery and half restaurant with a few tables (always very crowded. Portions are plentiful and the tastes are distinctive. Highly recommended.

                  One thing to note - even as a spicy food afficianado who takes great pride is savaging his taste buds with heat - you are well served here to order your food 'medium' if you like it extremely spicy. 'Mild' works if you want a bit of a kick, and 'no-spice' is really not that, but it doesn't have heat.



                  1. I'd like to add another vote for the NewMain Taste in Chatham, NJ. The food is incredible and very unique. For one thing, I noticed the Red Penang curry is thicker, richer and more peanutty than you find at other Thai restaurants, almost as if there was a Malaysian influence. The Pad Thai is a little more flavorful, and wetter. There are also dishes I havn't been able to find at other Thai restaurants, such as the Mee Krob (sweet tamarind crispy noodles with chicken and tofu) and the Pla Pa Pang (batter fried red snapper stuffed with crabmeat topped with a ginger sauce). My husband and I are regulars there, and the waitstaff has always been very friendly, never pretentious. Sometimes when the restaurant is slammed, the entrees can take longer because they do everything from scratch, which is why we like going on weekdays. Also, I would stay away from the fish cake appetizers. They are not any different from other restaurants but are quite small and not worth the money in my opinion. Overall, however, I think the presentation gives Thai food a touch of class, and with moderate prices (entrees range from $15 bucks to $25 for the Seafood dishes), it's a wonderful place to entertain or enjoy a romantic dinner for two. Trust us, your friends will be talking about "that Thai place you took me to" for years...literally!

                    1. Has anyone tried Green Papaya in Hackensack yet? It has a more fast food feel to it but the food was really fresh, yummy and cheap. I was there by myself so couldn't really try out much of the menu but what I had was great. Ingrediedients were top quality. Lunches were all 7 bucks,soups was 3.
                      I'm going back to try out more of the menu.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: sixelagogo

                          ooo! i have to agree with foodyum and sixelagogo! i LOVED the green papaya! i went on a casual double date with my hubby, cousin and her bf last friday night. i'm really glad that there were four of us because we got to try lots of different things and the food was amazing!

                          for appetizers we had:
                          - roti canai - doughy bread heaven! and i couldn't get enough of the dipping sauce!
                          - tom yum soup - perfectly tangy and spicy

                          for the main courses:
                          - sizzling homemade tofu - it was like buttah!
                          - saigon beef - very tender and flavorful
                          - pad thai with shrimp - one of the best i've had so far (in nj)
                          - chili chicken - was too spicy for me, but it was everyone else's fav dish of the night
                          - belachan string beans - didn't know what this was, but it blew past my expectations... the string beans were nice and crispy with a great flavor, not spicy and didn't really taste shrimp either (tho it says there's shrimp paste). i can't really describe the flavor, but i really liked it and will def get it again!

                          we also had drinks from their 'liquiteria' -- yeah, we're pigs, we can eat a lot! i had the green tea with tapioca bubbles (perfectly chewy and sweet) and i tried my hubby's thai iced tea (it wasn't on the menu, but they have it and it's really good!)

                          i'm looking forward to going back and highly recommend it! the staff is really friendly. i think it's a family restaurant and like the whole family works there! the owner was really sweet and came to chat with us, which is a nice personal touch that you don't see a lot anymore.

                          btw, i found their website on the take out menu:

                          what a pity they don't do delivery! i'd get it all the time!