2534 SE BELMONT 236-7349

Though Portland may sport a Thai restaurant on every other corner, it doesn't guarantee that this city knows how to pick a good stalk of lemongrass. That said, there's a reason Thai food is so hip: When it's good, it's incredible.

The Bangkok Kitchen offers a comprehensive (but not excessive) range of dishes, most of which offer a delicate balance of the three magic ingredients: lemongrass, Galanga root, and chili peppers. The real gem of their menu is the Pad Thai ($5.75-$6). Unlike many of its Paddy counterparts around town, this dish relies on noodles which are only lightly touched with enough oil to make you wanna eat the whole damn plate--even when your bulging stomach is crying for mercy. Fresh cilantro, unsalted peanuts, and crisp bean sprouts beg to be devoured alongside this perfectly pleasant Pad.

You'll want to eat at Bangkok Kitchen every night--and you can! Prices are thrifty enough, but if your economical conscience is still not buying it, offer it the lunch special: a hefty serving of two entrèes, soup and salad, all for the low, low price of $4.95.

Why does the Bangkok Kitchen know so much more than your beloved Yuppieville Thai restaurants? Legend has it, 16 years ago the original owner came to Portland from Thailand; her daughter later founded the glossy fare of Lemongrass, which so resembles Typhoon and other restaurants in the spendy category. But it's old-school places like Bangkok Kitchen that gave birth to more recent uptown Thai. So there. Nyaah. Shut up and eat. KATIA DUNN