Food Review: Bai Tong Thai Be Bangin!

*June 2017 Update located at the bottom.*

My favorite go-to Thai food place was Saigon in Conway, until it closed this year. This has been pretty devastating as there is only one Thai restaurant I know of in Little Rock, Zangna Thai, and it is pretty expensive.  So, my Thai food intake has decreased dramatically.
Then, Bai Tong Thai opened in Conway. Drew and I decided to head to Conway for a date night and try this place out. I was pretty impressed. Here’s the breakdown:

Environment

This restaurant is found in a newer shopping center, but don’t let that throw you. While it is small, it was modernly decorated with bright colors and very clean.
When we first arrived, there was only one other couple in the restaurant. Over the entire time we were there, only one other family arrived. For a Friday night, this is not a good sign.

The Food

Tom Kah Kai $10.99
Description: Creamy coconut milk soup with chicken, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, lemongrass, galanga, kaffir leaf, and cilantro.

We started off with one of my all-time favorite soups, Tom Kah Kai. Though, not all of these soups are created equal. My favorite version was the one at Lilly’s Dim Sum, though that place closed this year as well. Come on! This version, though, was delicious! The creamy broth is sweet with just a slight kick. There was plenty of very tender slices of chicken, (This is usually a problem with this soup, the chicken gets overcooked and very tough, but not here!) mushrooms, and other veggies. There were huge slices of tomato that I wish were cut smaller. I have never had tomatoes in this soup, but I enjoyed it. There was also plenty of cilantro sprinkled on top, which I love.
I will definitely order this soup again.

 

Panang Curry, $12.00
Description: Coconut milk, panang curry, kaffir leaf, and fried bell peppers on a bed of spinach.

I LOVE panang curry. This one was good, but not my all-time favorite. It was very sweet at first and then BAM! a pretty intense heat hits you. I was glad to have more soup left to cool my mouth off after each bite. The tofu was cut into very large pieces, which I do not like. I should have ordered this with chicken or beef. There was plenty of sauce, though. So, each bite was flavorful and saucy. I think I will try a different curry on their menu next time, though this was still enjoyable.

 

Pahd Thai, $10.99
Description: Stir-fried rice noodles, egg, green onions, and bean sprouts in pahd thai sauce topped with ground peanuts

My favorite pahd thai was from Saigon, may it rest in peace. But this one is a close second. I like my pahd thai saucy, with medium heat. (Enough spice to give good flavor and a kick, but not so much that I can’t finish the dish.) I like to taste the peanuts as well, but I don’t like too much lime. This pahd thai nailed it. I loved it. The tofu was cut into smaller pieces than in the panang curry and was sauteed, which I enjoy.
I ordered the heat level 3 out of 5, though it needed more heat. However, there was some spicy chili sauce on each table, so I added some of that and it was perfectly spicy.
The serving size was also huge! And for $11, this may be the cheapest pahd thai (for the amount) that I have ever had. I got four meals out of this! I will definitely order this every time I visit, even if it is just to eat over the next couple of days.

Overall

I really enjoyed this place. The people were so nice, the service was great, and the food was top notch. I also enjoy that the prices are cheaper than many other Thai restaurants.  I hope more people go visit this restaurant so it succeeds. So, got dinner plans? You do now.

If you have been and can suggest any good dishes I should try next time, let me know in the comments.

Update: June 2017

Since Drew and I enjoyed our last meal here so much, we made sure to get dinner when we were in Conway yesterday. I was craving a Thai Beef Salad and Drew wanted something like a curry, but on the healthier side. Here’s what we decided on:

Asparagus Peanut Sauce with Chicken, $10.99
Description: Grilled asparagus, squash, and carrots on a bed of spinach, topped with peanut sauce.

Drew chose a mix of stir-fried veggies in a deliciously sweet, but not too heavy, peanut sauce. This was perfect for getting that curry craving satisfied, even though peanut sauce is not a curry sauce. It was still similar enough to a peanut-filled curry sauce, like a massamum curry, though it was sweeter and not swimming in the sauce like most curry dishes allow.  With tons of vegetables and very tender slices of chicken, it was a healthy, yet very filling meal.
While it was a little on the sweet side, adding a bit of the table condiments, such as chili sauce, helped elevate this sauce to an easy favorite.

Beef Salad $10.99
Description: A bed of shredded iceberg topped with marinated strips of beef, mixed with cucumber, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro with a spicy lime dressing.

First off, I LOVE a good Thai beef salad. This one was delicious, but it was not my favorite. While the dressing was tangy and spicy and fresh, it was borderline too spicy for me. By the end of the meal, my mouth was on fire!
The beef actually tasted a lot better than it appears in the picture. The beef was cooked perfectly, leaving it tender and flavorful. Nothing is worse than having overcooked beef on your salad, amIright?
The rest of the salad consisted of entirely too large “bites”, so I had to spend some time cutting everything into much smaller pieces. I also found a few ingredients that I tend to enjoy on this dish missing: I didn’t notice any cilantro (if it was there, it was minimal) and there were no peanuts.
Nevertheless, I definitely still enjoyed my salad, but I will go elsewhere when this craving for a Thai beef salad hits me again.

The Service

The service here, again, was fantastic. While they may be a little slow getting your order or handing you your check, our waters were never empty, our food came out promptly, and everyone is more than friendly and professional.
We also found that attention to detail here really adds a lot to our experience. Each table was decorated with a little styling of the napkins and silverware and everything is very clean. These details and the friendly service help make this a great dining experience…both times!

If you try this place and come across a dish we haven’t tried that we need to try, let me know in the comments!

 

Food Review: Rock N’ Java is More Than Rocks and Coffee

I have driven past this “Rock N’ Java” shop multiple times. Whether we were heading to the Buffalo River or Branson, this shop always appeared to be a regular ole’ rock shop that happened to have coffee for sale, too. No thanks.
Then, on the way home from camping at the Buffalo this weekend, I was craving some good coffee. Besides gas stations, there aren’t many options around these parts of Arkansas for any coffee, so I decided to give this place a shot. And I kicked myself all the way back to my car when I realized what I have been missing out on for so many years!

A few miles south of Marshall, Arkansas, on Hwy 65, is where you can find this gem of a coffee shop, with a great view to go with it.

While it is a rock shop, it is unlike any rock shop I have encountered. Yes, it sells tons of cool rocks, but much more than that.  There were some local artists’ fare for sale, such as clay pottery and plenty of other unique finds. AND they not only sell ligit coffee, but food as well.

The inside is super fun and eclectic. This shop reminds of a few of the family-owned shops in small mountain towns in Colorado….hippies included.

When first entering, the super friendly barista was talking to a couple other young customers about the area. She then turned her full attention to us to answer any questions we had.
She suggested a simple latte with any flavor for me and an iced pomegranate green tea with mulled fruit mixed in for Drew.
She. nailed. it.
My 12 oz white chocolate latte for $2.99 truly hit the spot. She even asked what type of milk I preferred, so I got skim. Though, I’m sure soy or almond or whatever else kind of milk you prefer is available. Anyway, it was delicious.
Drew’s iced green tea stole the show, though. Placed in a large 32 oz styrofoam cup to go, it was full of ice, mulled fruit, and a delicious, flavorful, fruity green tea. Plus, it was only $3.29…can’t beat that.

There were just a handful of food options, which I opted out of since I had just finished a freeze-dried meal for breakfast. However, omelets and hash brown casserole were available for “breakfast all day”.
There was also a lunch special of a bbq sandwich, chips, and mac’n’cheese for $5.49. Also available was a grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Finally, there was also a case full of sweets, such as cookies and other pastries. I behaved myself and abstained….but next time, I’m not sure I’ll be able to pass the food up.

Overall, I’m so glad we stopped by this place. It will definitely be a must-stop-shop from now on. Give it a try and let me know if there is anything else delicious you enjoyed there!