I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published September 24th 2015
From Bangkok to Boronia - your local touch of Thailand
Bangkok Gardens, a local Thai restaurant in suburban Boronia, is about as far away from Bangkok as you can get, and there's not a garden in sight. But they're just minor details really. What is important is that the food is pretty good, the prices are reasonable and the service is friendly. Oh yeah, and the décor is, well, quirky to say the least…
Thai restaurants are a dime a dozen in the suburbs now, and there are three of them in Boronia alone. Not having been to the other two, I can't really compare them too much, but it's probably fair to say that the food at all three is probably fairly similar. Nothing too risqué one would think, and neither of them is likely to have world-class international chefs at their helm, trail-blazing their way through the Thai restaurant scene (this is the suburbs, after all…not too much trail-blazing goes on out in these parts).
So how does one decide which of the three Thai restaurants in Boronia (all within about a one kilometre radius of each other) to hit to satisfy one's craving for Pad Thai? Many may go by sheer location, especially when picking up some quick takeaway—the closer the better (don't want that Pad Thai getting cold, and congealing itself into a noodle-and-bean-shoot rectangle the same shape as the plastic container). Others will go by word-of-mouth recommendations, and some may just choose the one on the main drag simply from driving past it on a regular basis. But we've chosen Bangkok Gardens a few times over the years simply because of the décor—it's quirky, a little garish, a little kitschy, but a bit of fun.
The decor at Bangkok Gardens is bright and cheerful and happy!
The entire interior of the restaurant is painted with such a dazzling shade of bright green that it wouldn't look out of place in a child's paint set. But somehow, in this place, it works, and even the bathrooms and rear storage area are painted in the same colour (perhaps they got a few gallons of it on sale). There are vases of plastic flowers lined up along the ledge as you enter the restaurant, and there's a throne-like chair covered in gold fabric in which you can park your royal derriere while you wait for your take-away order. Faux green plants surround the 'throne' giving it a lush, fresh feeling, even though you know the plants aren't real (perhaps these are the 'Gardens' for which the restaurant is named for?), and the front window is adorned with bronze gauzy curtains and very real-looking sticks of bamboo. The same filmy curtains—this time in gold, and pulled back to each side—form a centrepiece in the middle of the restaurant, and there are rows of black and white photos of the 'real' Thailand hanging on the walls. The tables are set with bright red napkins, water jugs and glasses, with menus propped open, ready to go.
Bright green walls, red napkins and gauzy curtains all set the scene for a fun atmosphere.
But it is the 'Bangkok Bar' that really takes the cake in this little green restaurant. The front counter doubles as the bar, so while you're putting in your take-away order, or checking in for your table-for-two, you're standing beneath a rustic canopy of straw, watching the flickering fairy lights and feeling just a little bit like you're in a tiki bar by the side of a beach in Phuket, rather than a few steps away from a big square car park, a NQR grocery store and a Dan Murphy's liquor outlet. And whilst Bangkok Gardens doesn't have a cocktail menu, and the waitresses don't bring your drinks to your table in an empty coconut, it's still a bit of whimsical fun, and while you're seated at your table waiting for your meals to arrive, you can pretend a little that you're far, far away on a tropical beach somewhere…
It was pretty quiet on our recent Saturday night visit (we were headed off to an early movie after dinner at the Boronia Metro Cinemas, just a short walk around the corner) so our food came fairly quickly. We'd decided to skip appetisers, which consisted mostly of your stock-standard, suburban Thai restaurant appetiser fare: chicken skewers, fish cakes, spring rolls…nothing too fancy, and nothing that really screamed out "pick me! pick me!". Instead we ordered a couple of serves of roti bread, which I don't actually think is really all that authentically Thai, but hey—this is Boronia, not Bangkok…I'm not too concerned with authenticity, as long as it tastes good. And the roti bread did taste good. A little crispy on the outside, softer on the inside, and the tangy, slightly spicy peanut sauce garnished with sesame seeds was the perfect accompaniment.
The perhaps not-quite-authentic roti bread - but delicious all the same!
Our mains arrived soon after: Mu Yang (barbecued pork), Gai Pad Khing (chicken stir-fried with ginger and black bean sauce) and steaming bowls of jasmine rice. The pork was tender and flavourful, although probably a bit lacking in the spice factor. Our chicken dish was fragrant with ginger, tossed with lots of vegetables and the black beans added a salty kick. And whilst I couldn't really say that either dish was truly stand-out, they did the job. It was a nice meal, reasonably priced and the service was relaxed and friendly. And of course, the green walls, plastic flowers and the 'Bangkok Bar' all add a little bit of tropical delightfulness to an evening out in the 'burbs.
With so many Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese restaurants in our local area now, it's not hard to find somewhere to go to get my fix of Asian food. And whilst we don't head to Bangkok Gardens on that much of a regular basis, we'll definitely be back. If you live on the western side of Dorset Road, and you're looking for a local Thai restaurant, you should give Bangkok Gardens a try too. And while you're there, if you close your eyes really tight, you might just be able to picture yourself drinking from that coconut on that long-ago holiday to Thailand…