We went to our first Thai restaurant last weekend. This was a bit of an adventure for us because Debra does not eat spicy food. I love it and Dearth likes it, but not quite as spicy as me. Thai food is spicy.
The place was called Bangkok Gardens and is located in Virginia Beach. None of the dishes are over $15 and the staff was very friendly. The friendly staff is a treasure all by itself. I've found that customer service can be a bit lacking in this area.
When we entered Bangkok Gardens it had a very relaxing effect on me. The decor was dark woods and reds. It was warm without being uncomfortable and the staff greeted us quickly. They were busy, but not packed and we were ushered to our seats without feeling rushed.
It was pretty obvious that English was the second language for many of the staff. This enhanced the experience for me (their English was very good). Drinks were brought to us and we were given enough time to browse the menu.
The menu gives you the Thai name for each dish and a description of the dish under it. They also have a pepper symbol next to the dishes that are spicy. At the bottom of the page they show the various degrees of hot with 1 to 4 peppers (mild, spicy, hot and Thai hot). Oddly, none of the dishes had more than one pepper next to them. I read some reviews later and found out that each dish is seasoned by the cook and the spiciness may vary.
Deb ordered crab fried rice and Dearth played it safe with shrimp fried rice. I tasted both and they were excellent. Both dishes were presented, "upside down bowl shape", in the center of a white plate. The fried rice was not spicy at all and was basically rice, meat, onions and soy sauce. Neither Dearth or Deb could finish all of their meal and I had it for lunch the next day.
I couldn't even tell you the name of the dish that I ordered. It was a shredded cucumber and sliced tomato salad with a dressing of some sort. It had one pepper next to it on the menu. My first taste of the salad was eye opening. The cucumbers were freshly shredded and very crisp. The tomatoes were very ripe and complimented the cucumbers nicely. I dream about this kind of salad on a hot summer day. The salad was ice cold and very refreshing. I was about a third of the way into the salad when I was reminded of the red pepper symbol. My mouth started to burn, my nose start to run and my eyes teared up. Holy crap! What was that? The tip of my tongue was burning enough that I asked Deb to look at it (there was a big red spot on it). I took a closer look at my salad and I saw pieces of red pepper in it. That was sneaky. I had been ok until one of those little buggers stuck on the end of my tongue. I'm as human as the next person so when my mouth began to burn I took a drink of the nearest liquid. I was drinking hot tea. Ouch. Hot drinks increase the pain of a spicy hot mouth. I took a sip of ice water. That helped until I swallowed the water. I took another sip and held it in my mouth. Better. I'm still suffering a little bit here. Maybe a bite of nice hot fried rice will help. This was not my day of Einstein like thinking. This was much worse than hot tea. I had to chew and swallow. It made a good attempt at burning my tonsils out as I accomplished this. Everyone had a good laugh. Debra and Dearth being everyone. I'm glad someone enjoyed it. I did finish as much of the salad as I could. It was huge and I was full before I could finish. It was still spicy, but I was watching for those pieces of pepper now and I was ok. I would order that again.
For those who have never been to a Thai Restaurant I recommend going. There are plenty of none spicy dishes if that is what you are worried about. If you like spicy food you will enjoy yourself. Go easy though. The Thai people like their food spicy and Thai hot will make you cry.