One of the best Thai restaurants in the Temecula Valley is also one of the oldest.
Established in 1991, Bangkok Chef, 27451 Jefferson Ave., in Temecula, serves traditional Thai. The restaurant is in a shopping center that lost its anchor grocery store, so some are hesitant to try the place.
This all fades away when you walk in the front door and find out how great the food and service is. Family owned and operated for 22 years, if you’re not sure what to order, just ask.
Everything here is delicious and really great for families looking for quality and value. Ask the owner Utai Usanaluxmee or his wife Judy for the specials. Some of the best, seasonal dishes change daily and are not on the menu.
You can enjoy an incredible meal just with the appetizers. There is satay, chicken, beef or pork marinated in a special blend of spices and coconut milk and then char-grilled on skewers. It’s served with a savory peanut sauce and cucumber chutney.
The Mee Krob is a crispy rice noodle dish with tofu, tossed in sweet tamarind sauce and topped with bean sprouts.
One of my absolute favorites are angel wings. These boneless chicken wings are stuffed with a mixture of minced chicken, vegetables and noodles and spices, then cooked to a golden brown. The Koong Gra Bog (shrimp in a blanket) is also delicious. Marinated whole shrimp are wrapped in egg roll skin and deep fried until golden. Both dishes are served with a Thai sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Toong Tong or golden bags are my kids' favorites. These crispy egg rolls are stuffed with ground chicken and shrimp and formed into tiny bite-sized bags. They also have a stuffed cream cheese version.
Vegetarian? This restaurant has an incredible array of meatless offerings, such as fresh spring rolls made with tofu, veggies and sweet basil, all wrapped in rice paper—the healthy alternative to deep fried rolls.
Meat lovers don’t panic, Bangkok Chef can also include your choice of chicken, shrimp or minced pork in the rolls.
There are also many soup selections. A must is the Tom Kha Gai, which is classic Thai coconut milk soup with chicken, mushrooms, vegetables flavored with lemongrass, Thai spices and galangal. The seafood version is loaded with fish, mussels, calamari, clams and shrimp.
The curries come in two styles and varying degrees of heat. The Panang curry is a spicy blend of coconut milk, peanuts with a touch of sweet basil and kaffir leaves. This complex combination of herbs and spices is truly satisfying. It comes vegatarian or with a choice of chicken, shrimp, pork or beef. Mussamon Curry is cooked in a mussamon blend with coconut milk, potatoes, peanuts, onions and carrots.
The minced eggplant and beef, aka the "Chris Special" named after the owner’s son, should not be missed. Be sure to order it with fried egg on top.
Thai barbecue chicken is another must try. It’s a half-chicken marinated to perfection in authentic Thai herbs and spices, served on a hot platter and brought sizzling to the table.
Pad thai is one of the most popular Thai dishes—it's brilliant here. Rice noodles are mixed in a wok with green onions, bean sprouts, baked tofu and eggs in a sweet, tangy sauce. It’s then topped with crushed peanuts.
Pad Kee Mao or drunken noodles is another of my favorites. Wide noodles are stir-fried with spicy Chili sauce, tomatoes, onion and sweet basil served on a bed of romaine lettuce—topped off with peanuts, basil and bean sprouts before being served.
The Bangkok Chef serves a large variety of fried rice for every palette. The one that I really enjoy is the Khao Pad Pooh or crab fried rice. Jasmine rice is cooked with crab meat, onion, egg and tomato. It’s topped with a crab omelet and garnished cucumber and cilantro.
Our meal ends with Kao Neaw Ma Muang—sweet sticky rice served with ripe mango. The texture of the sticky rice enveloped in a coconut sauce that mixes so well with the fresh mango slices.
WARNING: Don’t order things too spicy unless you REALLY like HOT.
Bangkok Chef is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily.