Ban Thai, Baltimore - thumbs down
Re: Ban Thai, Baltimore, MD
My wife and I visited this restaurant on
10 - 13 - 06. We currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have
both lived and traveled throughout Asia. We have been to Thailand many
times.The food that is served in Ban Thai is really not typical or
even authentic Thai food and it is certainly not cheap either. It is
greatly toned down in spices and in taste in general. We found almost
all the food very bland and nearly tasteless. We overheard a waitress
reassuring a customer that the food wasn't spicy. Perhaps this is the
type of Thai food that people in Baltimore like and that's
perfectly ok, but this isn't anywhere near being a Thai restaurant
that I would recommend.
Just about any thai restaurant CAN make the food more like what you would find in thailand, and it is not only just the heat. Many are reluctant to use enough fish sauce, gapi (shrimp paste) and other strong flavors that you would typically find. However, if you can convince them that you like the "real" thai flavor, you can usually come out with something much better. My wife is thai, and she always asks them in thai to make it the "real" way. Even without her along, I can usually succeed as well. The salads in particular places like Thai Square and Ruan Thai become less sweet, with stronger fish sauce.
If you have been to thailand, you might consider mentioning that and arguing your case. Throwing out phrases like "gin aharn pet dai" (I can eat spicy) might help as well.
Right, that would be like traveling to San Francisco, eating food from Panda Express, and complaining that San Francisco has awful Chinese food. Ok, not as dramatic since it IS hard to find spicy Thai food around here, but I don't recall ever hearing positive things about Ban Thai, so I'm not sure why you chose this restaurant when you're obviously very knowledgable about Thai food.
When you say that the food is very bland and nearly tasteless do you mean by authentic thai standards or everyday food standards? I ask this because my father who has traveled extensively through Asia has rarely found an asian restaurant here in America that compares to what he's had there. There are many thai restaurants that the rest of my family (who have never been to Asia) enjoy that my father doesn't. Thai Landing in Baltimore is pretty good at making the food as spicy or mild as you want it.
So I ask, if you have never been to Thailand is this a restaurant that a person would enjoy?
I do not think that Ban Thai is *bad.* It is, however, not particularly memorable. There is just nothing special about it. I used to take people from the office there for lunch (we were on the next block) as it's something different from typical American fare but not at all challenging.
If you like Asian - type food that is relatively bland, then you may enjoy this place. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is nice enough. It will give you an idea of what Thai food is like. I guess it is difficult to get authentic Thai or other Asian food in an area with so few Asians living. I think many Americans actually prefer relatively non - spicy food so many restaurants make this adjustment. There are certainly excellent Thai restaurants in the San Francisco Area, New York City and Seattle. I would probably pretty much agree with your father.