Cheap Eats 2007: Bangkok 54

This chic lounge-eatery might seem trendy and Americanized. The wine list offers Grüner Veltliner and rosé. On the cocktail menu, mango mojitos and saketinis replace Singapore slings. Diners can use silverware or pluck red chopsticks from a vase. There’s even an open kitchen, where grandmotherly cooks slice mango and fashion skewers of satay.

The flavors coming out of that kitchen, though, are mostly bold and true. Flaky pastry puffs filled with yellow-curried potato are wonderfully light. An appetizer of shredded fried catfish is so airy it disappears on the palate. Other dishes—a cellophane-noodle salad with shrimp and minced chicken; a whole rockfish with mango, peanuts, and lime vinaigrette; fried hunks of duck with frizzled basil—leave a slow, pleasant burn on the tongue.

The dessert menu is more of an East-West collision. Do you go for bua loi—a martini glass of warm taro balls soaked in cool coconut milk—or New York–style cheesecake with mango? They’re both tasty.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.