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RED BANK: SUSHI PLACE TAKES PRIMO CORNER

80 broad 092713The large space formerly home to the Broadway Grille is to become Taka, a sushi restaurant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Amid a proliferation of new restaurants, downtown Red Bank is taking on a decidedly Asian flavor.

Two weeks ago, Oriental Empire opened at 54 English Plaza, joining five other purveyors of Asian cuisine in the heart of town – most of them of recent vintage.

Now, a sushi restaurant has signed a lease at the high-profile corner of Broad and Monmouth streets., in the former home of the Broadway Grille.

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RED BANK: TAXMAN SEIZES THAI RESTAURANT

Muang Thai 3Muang Thai owner Jack Pongnoo, seated, with Muang Thai staffers last August. Below, the sticker slapped on the restaurant door by state tax officials Thursday. (Photo above by Robert Kern, below by Boris Kofman. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fans of Red Bank’s well-regarded Muang Thai appear to have lost a dining option.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHICKEN WITH THAI BASIL

muang thaiThe wonderfully spicy Pad Kra Prow at Muang Thai in Red Bank. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels medium

Authentic-tasting Thai with its liberal use of flavorful hot chili peppers, savory fish sauce and acidic lime can be difficult to come by. For years PieHole has had to make the trek into  Atlantic Highlands to Kunya Siam to get our fix of heat, acid and umami.

Fortunately, Muang Thai opened up on Front Street and now PieHole is within walking distance of a kitchen that is unafraid to churn out boldly flavored, authentic-tasting Thai food. We noticed that the restaurant’s expansion into the space formerly occupied by Flowers on Front is complete so we took the opportunity to explore their lunch menu and see how the new space shaped up.

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RED BANK: MEDIUM HOT THAI JUST LIKE MOM’S

muang thai 081613A planned expansion of Muang Thai into an adjoining flower shop will provide direct access to the outdoor seating area, below, that now requires a walk around the corner. (Photo below courtesy of Muang Thai. Click to enlarge)

By ROBERT KERN

Muang Thai 4The mark of a Thai cuisine master goes beyond knowing which ingredients to use. Herbs and spices like lemongrass, ginger, chilies and lime leaves – also known as kaffir – need to be handled and selected so they deliver the most flavor.

“Make sure the lime leaves are mature,” said Chanarong ‘Jack’ Pongnoo, owner and chef at Red Bank’s Muang Thai restaurant. “The older leaves have much more flavor.”

Expertise like that is not gotten from books or watching cooking shows, but from long years learning and mastering techniques. Like so many other master chefs, Pongnoo attended the traditional school: his mother’s stove.

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FRENCH OUT. THAI, PERUVIAN & ICE CREAM IN.

Marc Fontaine outside the now-closed Bienvenue, which will become a Thai restaurant. Fontaine plans to open a pastry shop on Monmouth Street. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Restaurant-crazy Red Bank’s ethnic pot is getting stirred again.

For Francophiles, the news is bad, as Bienvenue, the only French restaurant for miles around, has closed.

Those hankering for another Thai choice, though, will get their wish, as one moves into the space Bienvenue vacated last month, at the corner of East Front Street and Wharf Avenue.

Bienvenue’s chef, Marc Fontaine, meantime, plans to open a pastries and crepes café at 8 Monmouth Street.

Farther west on Monmouth, work has resumed on yet-to-open Peruvian restaurant after months of inactivity.

And, for dessert, a homemade ice cream shop plans to open before summer begins on White Street, in the space held by the short-lived Nina’s Waffles.

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