Bangkok Chef in Manoa has become a "go-to" restaurant in the Manoa Valley for residents of the valley and its surrounding neighborhoods. (As quaint as the original Nu'uanu location is, there are some of us who never felt the need to fight for parking and go into the converted garage even though friends and family sang its praises.) The Manoa location has a shared parking lot and you can find parking within a block if the lot is full. Seating at small tables is available for around 25-30 customers though it is sometimes difficult to get a table; at least half of the business appears to be take-out for busy families. Orders for both dine-in and take-out are taken at the counter and phone orders are accepted. Food is delivered to the table or your name is called to pick up your take-out order. Menu selection is wide and varied and the prices are reasonable: $8-$10 on average.
We somehow ended up eating here 5 times in 14 days (by default because we were so busy during the holidays). We hadn't been for quite a while and got the best Thai food we'd had in a long time on our first visit back. The food can be AMAZING sometimes and not as good the next. The quantity of ingredients in any given dish changes also. There was a nice balance of chicken, carrots and onions in the yellow chicken curry on our first visit, and an overwhelming amount of onions with very little chicken and carrots on our 5th visit. That same type of change happened with the ginger chicken with green beans, and pad thai. The summer rolls and crispy noodles were more consistent in quality. Maybe the day of the week or delivery schedule makes a difference in what's put into the dishes. White rice comes with most of the plate lunch/dinner items but you can order brown or sticky rice for an additional fee. There are also a la carte menu items. If you choose to forgo a soda fountain or bottled drink, you can get regular chilled water from the fountain --- but, they give you a teeny, tiny paper cup to use.
First-timers need to study the menu board behind the counter or pick up a paper menu next to the cash register. Checking out the menu on the website also helps. Counter staff will assist you in making choices, if needed.
When it's good, it's incredibly good -- which is most of the time! But when it isn't, it's just average.
Oh, it looks like they just opened their Nimitz restaurant! We'll try that next.
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