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Savoring The Simple: Angel Thai offers a nice alternative on Bend's scene 

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As its name suggests, Typhoon is the tropical storm of Thai food for many diners in Bend. But slightly off the beaten path is another important Thai restaurant making a smaller wave, a worthy one at that. Angel Thai delivers flavorful, high quality cuisine with modesty, attention to detail, and smart service.

On a chilly fall evening, I scrambled in with two friends sight unseen, having recently overheard a pedestrian describing "the very best dessert in all of Bend," at Angel Thai. We decided to go for dinner, assuming that dessert, at the very least, would be "the very best."

We were greeted and escorted to a banquette in the front dining room. Wooden beams connected to form arches overhead; vaulted ceilings added dimension to the dining room. We ordered our entrees, naming our desired spiciness - Kha Prow Beef, spice level four ($11.95), Pineapple Curry with Tofu ($11.95), and Spicy Vegetable Chicken, spice level three ($10.95). The food arrived quickly with steamy aromas of sweet basil and spiced beef. Portions were large, meat was well-seasoned, and vegetables were bright and crisp. We ate like teenagers feasting on midnight snacks.

Remembering dessert, we wrestled our forks from our mouths. The woman-of-few words-waitress cleared our plates with ease and speed, resetting our places for dessert, Mango Sticky Rice ($6.95). Her formality was a welcome change from the larger-than-life personalities that find themselves in similar roles. I didn't need to hear about her drive to work this morning, and I didn't have to; silent service was refreshing. I dove in as a ripe mango was quickly disappearing from a plate of mango sticky rice. The rice added mass to the "very best dessert" named by the prophetic pedestrian.

On my second visit, I stopped in for lunch. I began with Thai Iced Tea, a traditional drink made of creamy, sweetened milk with coffee. The server suggested the Green Curry. Chicken or tofu, I wondered. "Both," he responded.

With a moment to glance around, the restaurant was simple and elegant. The entryway into the back dining area was marked with brushed silk, rust-colored curtains. A series of paintings emblematic of the Far East hung from walls in gilded frames. The hardwood floors shined in the sunlight. There was no music, except for the sound of a fountain. It was like the set of a movie, tranquil and inviting, if only a pack of hungry extras could storm in on cue playing restaurant patrons. With such great food, it's a wonder Angel Thai isn't busier.

My meal arrived promptly in two courses. Hot & Soup followed by a selection of spices: jalapeños in vinegar, spicy/sour, and sweet/hot. I spooned the latter into the soup as my meal arrived. Thick peanut sauce dressed the salad and tasted too rich for simple greens. I added jalapeño vinegar to lighten the sauce and it became instantly delicious. Finishing the salad, I let my anticipation for the curry simmer. Finally, I took my first bite, steam and smell still wafting wildly. The heat of green curry spices balanced perfectly with the richness of coconut milk. Red peppers and green beans lent the dish bright color; healthy portions of tender chicken and sautéed tofu added tasty protein.

My second meal convinced me that Angel Thai is a great place to dine in Bend. Service was smart and understated, the restaurant clean and well-managed, and the food was excellent. I plan to return soon for dessert and drinks. And maybe some Green Curry. There is a lot of imported beer and sake available (read: sake bombs!), plus wine. Angel Thai proves that taking your name from a natural disaster isn't the only way to create a stir in our local dining scene.

Angel Thai

1900 NE Division Street #110. Mon.-Sat. 10:30am-9:30pm. 541-388-5177

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