As an Asian-food lover, I have to say that I rotate through a variety of countries and cuisines to satisfy my cravings. Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and of course Thai food! But oddly enough, I’ve found that in Raleigh, the excellent Thai options are few and far between. So often when I head over to Chapel Hill to explore, I find myself at one of their strong Thai restaurants like Bangkok 54. It’s a throw-back restaurant, one that reminds me of the many little, quirky, mom and pop Thai eateries I’ve found elsewhere. Here’s what to expect when you visit!
Bangkok 54, Chapel Hill – Location and Interior
If you’re headed over to Bangkok 54 for a meal, just be aware in sits in large plaza off of Rte. 54 and next to the Mardi Gras Bowling Center. Look for the small storefront in teal green siding. Step inside and you’ll find a small and tidy space with tiled floor and a busy back counter. A mural to the left and various Thai decorations to the right, there are only 10 to 12 tables so it’s a smaller-capacity restaurant, there is some seating on the sidewalk.
Bangkok 54, Chapel Hill – Menu and Food
The menu at Bangkok 54 covers all the basics: appetizers, salads, noodle, Thai curries, and house specials. The entrees have a good variety of protein options, the usual beef, chicken, pork, tofu, veggies along with the more unusual shrimp, squid, and scallops options! Note that Bangkok 54 also features some weekly specials on a chalkboard up front and a small lunch menu: entree with soup or salad.
I would recommend starting your meal with the koong ka bog appetizer, shrimp wrapped in wonton rolls, lightly fried and served with Thai chili sauce, yum! The hand rolls are quite good here, stuffed with cold noodles, veggies, and pork but I confess to preferring Vietnamese summer rolls vs. Thai hand rolls which run a bit larger and basic.
For the mains, their classic chicken pad thai is nicely done, perfectly wok-fried noodles with a good smattering of chicken and scrambled eggs mixed in. Along with the crushed peanuts, it’s a tasty take on the classic Thai dish. The Bangkok 54 duck is excellent, lean pieces of duck breast sauteed in a coconut-curry sauce and spiked with onions, pineapple, and cashews, similar to a sweet and sour type sauce! Paired with some jasmine rice and you have yourself a lovely meal.
Bangkok 54, Chapel Hill – Service and Conclusion
Like a lot of Thai restaurants, Bangkok 54 is family-run and you’ll likely run into leisurely service. They can be under-staffed and busy at times so just be patient. If you enjoy Thai eats, you’ll love Bangkok 54! It’s a smaller spot but seems to have been in business for a while, serving up excellent Thai food in humble surroundings. One of several good Thai choices in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, enjoy!