I have another Asian restaurant to show you today. This one is not in Denver, but in Fort Collins. As I was staying in Loveland, this one was much closer to me (10 miles/16km) and I came here quite frequently.
I was introduced to this place in 2011 by a Malay colleague who has been to the US more times than me. Back then, the place was called The Bangkok Kitchen. The owner was a Muslim Thai woman, so the restaurant was a halal (kosher for Muslims) one. In fact, it was the only halal restaurant within Loveland and FoCo.
This place is another small scale eatery. There were only about 5 or 6 tables, maximum capacity 20 people.
The place was hugely popular among the thriving Asian students community who studied in CSU (Colorado State University). They do most of their business as takeaways. Still, if you come during lunch/dinner hours, it is very likely that you will see the shop being full and you will have to wait outside the shop if you want to wait at all. They have a couple of tables and a few benches outside the shop for that purpose.
There was once when we came for dinner and had to wait outside. It was quite cold, the temperature was sub 50°F (10°C) and the five of us were the only ones stupid enough to wait. After about 15 minutes waiting with no signs of any tables inside going to be vacated soon, suddenly the waiter came outside with a plate of hot food. He told us madam owner felt bad watching us wait outside in the cold and gave us this plate of food, on the house.
Since it was free, I do not know what this dish is called. It’s some curry chicken with turmeric rice dish. We learned later that the cook (madam owner herself) was preparing this for one of the customers, so she cooked more to make this plate.
Yes, I’m imparting more information to you here. The owner cooks every dish herself, fresh from order. There’s no precooked and reheating shit going on here. Everything will be hot and tasty.
So, when I came back in 2012, I was dismayed when I tried to search for The Bangkok Kitchen online but what I found was that the restaurant has been closed down. The restaurant was replaced with another Thai restaurant called Cafe de Bangkok.
I was apprehensive with this new restaurant. After all, the food with The Bangkok Kitchen was authentic and delicious, and I was worried that this new replacement would not be as good.
Turned out that my worry was unnecessary. When I came back to the restaurant, I found that only the restaurant’s name was changed, the interior and menu were 100% identical. I quickly learned that the new owner Pu is a close friend of the previous owner Tuk. She took over the restaurant because Tuk wanted to move back to Thailand.
Both the owners spoke terrible English, and both of them shouted instructions in Thai to their kitchen assistant. In fact, it was the same assistant. The only main difference is that, the new owner is not a Muslim, so this place is no longer a halal place. Too bad for my Muslim colleagues, but no big deal for me.
Anyway, let me teach you one foolproof way to identify an authentic Asian restaurant from a bunch of fake wannabes.
If the restaurant is authentic, they will serve you with a spoon and fork and nothing else. If you want to taste authentic Southeast Asian food, then you are expected to eat like a proper Southeast Asian, you are expected to eat rice with a spoon, NOT a fork. If you enter an Asian restaurant in America and find sets of knives and forks on the tables, turn around and walk away, ASAP.
Malaysians, don’t feel strange when you read this, but being served with knife and fork in an Asian restaurant is very common in America.
Anyway, I think I’ve told enough stories here. Let’s cut to the chase and get to the food. Below are pictures that I took from my many visits to both The Bangkok Kitchen and Cafe de Bangkok. Since their menu and food quality has remained the same, I think it should be fine to mix my food photos up.
Their fried rice is very good, and their Nam Prik fried rice (which I do not have a picture of) was the best that I have ever tasted, Malaysia and Hatyai included! Nam Prik is a type of Thai specialty chili paste.
This vege plus pork dish is my favorite from the restaurant. After a few rounds of sampling other stuff, I stuck to this on most of my subsequent visits.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, unlike the one in Jaya Asian Grill, the Tom Yum soups here are the real deal. Tom Yum is not supposed to be a sweet and sour soup, it is supposed to be a hot, spicy and sour soup.
The food in Cafe de Bangkok is undoubtedly authentic Thai, and properly, properly delicious. It is my second favorite Asian restaurant in Colorado. Although their Tom Yum is a joke, my favorite is still the Jaya Asian Grill in Denver. I think both their food are delicious, but the one in Denver wins in terms of more variety in the menu. And because they have kangkung belacan.
Anyway, they have a website with menu and address and whatnot. Link here. If you are ever in Fort Collins and want to pay this restaurant a visit, here’s a tip for you: Your GPS might not recognize Cafe de Bangkok, but it will definitely recognize BlackJack Pizza. Search for the pizza joint, they are just next to each other.
With this, I bring my Asian food in Colorado chapter to a close, temporarily..