Eating IN: Bangkok Bistro, a gem of Thai fusion food in the 05

Bangkok Bistro is a gem of Thai fusion food nestled in the 05 neighborhood. Taking over the old Bagel Station, the space is almost unrecognizable with moody black walls adorned with warm decor and photos of Thailand. Instrumental music, which feels like a mash up of lofi and meditation music, looms in the background and adds to the relaxing atmosphere. The ambiance is remarkably cozy and gives off a vibe like you’re at a friend’s home—a very special kind of friend who loves you enough to feed you. 

Bangkok Bistro is a gem of Thai fusion food located in the 05 neighborhood.
Even in the midst of such ease, I feel a sense of f.o.m.o. looking over the menu, which features a variety of stir-fries, curries, noodles, soups, and specialty drinks and sweets. Not knowing where to start, I ask our server, Luke, for recommendations which he gives enthusiastically—making two sets of suggestions: (a.) dishes that he’s noticed American patrons gravitate towards and (b.) favorite dishes from his Thai and Asian regulars. I follow his lead and choose a mix.   

First to the table are some of the American favorites—the samusas and crab mandalays (listed on the menu as gyo tod). The samusa pastries are comforting and savory with a flaky, delicate exterior that contrasts nicely with the pillowy, potato-filled center. The chunks of potatoes are warmly spiced with a flavor reminiscent of an Indian curry. The samusas are served alongside a chili-forward dipping sauce that adds some sweet heat and is a notch or two above your average sweet-chili sauce on the scoville meter. 

The samusa pastries are comforting and savory with a flaky, delicate exterior that contrasts nicely with the pillowy, potato-filled center.
The crab mandalays (gyo tod) are rich and creamy with a lot of sweetness from the crab shining through its heavier counterparts. Much like the samusas, the mandalays offer a nice juxtaposition of textures between their crunchy wonton surfaces and smooth cream cheese interiors. 

The crab mandalays (gyo tod) are rich and creamy with a lot of sweetness from the crab shining through its heavier counterparts.
Next is the papaya salad (som tum gai tod), which Luke recommends as one of his Thai-favorites, but only after asking if I’m an adventurous eater. Disclaimer: I said yes, and I would only recommend ordering this dish if you’re already familiar with Thai cooking or if you’re a curious eater like me. The salad has a slaw-like texture with shredded papaya and vegetables, topped with crunchy peanuts. Combing through the shreds, you’ll find little crab claws, which I believe is specific to the Laotian version I tried. It’s nutty, bright, and surprisingly refreshing with some funky, fishy notes on the tail end of each bite. 

With the papaya salad, you’re given two pieces of extra crispy fried chicken and some sticky rice. For your dunking pleasure, the fried chicken is paired with a house-made Zab sauce, which offers bites that are savory, sweet, and full of umami. The complexity of the sauce marries well with the simplicity of the chicken. 

The papaya salad (som tum gai tod) has a slaw-like texture with shredded papaya and vegetables, topped with crunchy peanuts.
The tom yum soup arrives on top of a fire-lit setup, which keeps the broth bubbling, similar to what you’d see with a hotpot. It’s often compared to hot and sour soup, but if you’re expecting that peppery, almost gelatinous broth which the Sichuan version is known for, you’re in for a surprise. Tom yum embodies its own glossy texture and exemplifies many flavors that are uniquely Thai. The broth is deliciously sour, salty, and sweet with some serious brightness from the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lime, and cilantro. There’s also a little bit of funk and heat (the heat being adjustable to your preference). In addition to the intensely flavorful broth, the soup mixes together a combination of meaty, tender mushrooms and chunks of soft onion and tomato. For a protein, I choose tofu because I enjoy the texture it lends to soup. But if you want a more traditional option, I’d suggest trying it with shrimp.

The tom yum soup arrives on top of a fire-lit setup, which keeps the broth bubbling, similar to what you’d see with a hotpot.
Next is the yellow curry (kaeng ka ree) which is sweet, silky, and full of comforting spices that coat your mouth. I opt for vegetables in place of a protein, all of which are cooked al dente, lending the perfect amount of bite and crunch to what would otherwise be a very soft dish. This curry is as mesmerizing as it is delicious, with pops of green and orange from its vegetable medley swimming in a vibrant pool of yellow coconut milk. 

The yellow curry (kaeng ka ree) is sweet, silky, and full of comforting spices that coat your mouth.For my last entree, I try another Thai favorite—the Main Street Basil Stir-Fry (Pad Kra Prao Minced Meat) which does not disappoint. The minced pork stir-fry is coated in a sweet, umami-rich sauce that’s infused with anise-y Thai basil. Crunchy slivers of sauteed peppers, onions, and green beans accompany the minced meat, adding a nice vegetal component. The “cherry” on top is a Thai-style crispy egg with frizzled edges and a yolky velvety center that adds even more richness to the dish.    

The Main Street Basil Stir-Fry (Pad Kra Prao Minced Meat) is a minced pork stir-fry coated in a sweet, umami-rich sauce that’s infused with anise-y Thai basil.
Between all my bites, I sip on Thai iced tea (Cha Yen) and plum wine from Two EEs. Both give a sweet reprieve from all the spicy food. The tea is particularly refreshing. It’s creamy, smooth, and almost dessert-like. Oddly enough, it reminds me of the orange creamsicles I used to eat at my grandma’s house as a child.

Thai iced tea at Bangkok Bistro.

Overall experience? The staff at Bangkok Bistro are friendly and passionate about the food they serve. They are also extremely accommodating, letting you choose your protein and your heat level according to your spice tolerance—with a range from zero spice to more intense levels called “Burn My Bum” and “Auntie’s Hot.” They can even make accommodations for gluten intolerances.  

Dining in at Bangkok Bistro, you feel especially cared for. The vibe is warm and comforting, much like a big bowl of curry. You (and your belly) are sure to leave the dining experience feeling loved. 

Bangkok Bistro is a gem of Thai fusion food located in the 05 neighborhood.
Menu items in review:
  • Gyo Tod (Crab Mandalay)
  • Samusa
  • Cha Yen (Thai Iced Tea)
  • Som Tum Gai Tod (Papaya Salad with Dip Fried Chicken)
  • Kaeng Ka Ree (Yellow Curry)
  • Tom Yum
  • Pad Kra Prao Minced Meat (Main Street Basil Stir-Fry)
“Localvore” friendly? They do offer wine from local winery, Two-EEs. Because a lot of their ingredients are difficult to find in the states, they aren’t able to source locally, but they do buy some of their ingredients from local Asian grocers.

Vegetarian and vegan friendly? They are happy to accommodate vegans and vegetarians, and even have some vegan items marked on the menu. Make note of your preferences to your server so they can omit fish sauce and eggs, if you’re vegan. 

With the papaya salad, you’re given two pieces of extra crispy fried chicken and some sticky rice.
Chefs’ choice? 
Chef Voot’s Favorites: Pad Thai, panang curry, and any fried rice
Chef Sun’s Favorites: Panang curry, herb garden fish, and tom yum 

Writer’s choice? Tom yum and pad kra prao minced meat (main street basil stir-fry)
Dipping sauce for the crab mandalays.
What I wish I would have tried?
Because it’s a staff favorite, I’m definitely trying the Panang curry when I come back.

Hours & Location: 

3009 E. State Blvd.

Tuesday - Sunday
11:00am - 2:30pm
4:00pm - 9:00pm
Monday: Closed

Website and social media:
Bangkok Bistro's Website
Bangkok Bistro's Facebook Page
Bangkok Bistro's Instagram
 

Read more articles by Molly Conner.

Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native. Driven by curiosity and affection for culinary crafts, Molly’s writing explores our food-focused community—from haute, experimental eateries to no-frills, all-flavor mom-and-pops.