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The Thai That Binds

Bronze Buddha in Clayton Valley Shopping Center is the next generation of great local Thai food.

I went to check out the new Fresh and Easy Market in the Clayton Valley Shopping Center the other day and I happened on Bronze Buddha, a Thai fusion restaurant. It doesn’t take much to interest me in Thai food since I happen to really enjoy it. But Thai fusion?

Usually when my family and I want Thai food, we head over to Wuong Luong in Todos Santos Plaza. But Bronze Buddha was much closer to our house and I was eager to try it.

Turns out, Thai fusion is much like the “traditional” version I really like but the décor of Bronze Buddha is a bit more hip. Rich, dark hardwood floors are a great contrast to the snow-white banquettes and lounge seats that set off the tables and traditional Thai décor you are accustomed to seeing in a Thai restaurant. The smoke-mirrored ceilings add another element of elegance. However, the Muzak playing '80s-classics-set-to-elevator-nerdy was an interesting twist on the traditional sounds of Thailand. That must be what they’re referring to when they talk about fusion.

The menu has an assortment of lunch combinations that pair an appetizer, entrée, rice and salad; a la carte dishes; and dinner options that are larger, more-expensive versions of lunch items.

The lunch combinations are filling and a great option. For $10 to $12, depending on meats (or shrimp), you can pair up such appetizers as Chicken Satay, Crispy Tofu, Crispy or Fresh Spring Rolls, Crab Cake or Butterfly Prawns with entrees such as Curry, Thai BBQ, Pad Thai, Spicy Eggplant, Tofu Asparagus, Sweet Basil Leaf or Phra Ram— a stir fry with chicken, beef, pork, salmon, prawns or a combination of seafood. The jasmine rice that accompanies these items is aromatic and deliciously light. You also get a salad that is forgettable except it has a wonderful champagne dressing that is a refreshing start to your meal.

We tried the combinations with the Thai BBQ Pork, which had a generous portion of meat served over a carrot and broccoli medley with crispy Spring Rolls and rice. It was very filling and a strong contender for those with hearty appetites. The Phra Ram was a combination of seafood stir-fried with garlic over steamed vegetables and covered in peanut sauce. Paired with a fresh Spring Roll with shrimp and cucumbers and perfumed jasmine rice, I was in heaven. The Red Curry paired with rice and a fresh Spring Roll was equally appetizing and had a flavorful coconut and lemongrass broth enveloping vegetables and chicken that will keep you coming back for a curry fix.

I also had to try the Drunken Noodles, a medley of wide rice noodles tossed with vegetables and chicken in a basil garlic sauce that makes you want a bigger plate and bigger pants. Other choices to surely satisfy are the Rice Clay Pot, a blend of chicken and prawns with onions, mushrooms, celery and green onion, or the BBQ Platter that gets you all three BBQ meats on one dish, including Thai BBQ Pork, Beef and half a chicken. A refreshing palate cleanser is the beef salad that has a flavorful, vinegary tang to it. It is light and yet filling.

You’ll find the usual cast of characters when it comes to beverages — sodas, Thai ice teas, coffees and beers, and coconut juice. The desserts are sticky rice concoctions with ice cream or mangos, and fried bananas served with ice cream. Bronze Buddha also has a spacious outdoor patio that will be great to sit on when the weather gets warmer.

As we gobbled up our dishes, I couldn’t help but compare the food to Wuong Luong. Imagine my surprise when our server said she was the daughter of Wuong Luong’s owners and this was their second Concord restaurant. No wonder it tasted so good and seemed so familiar!

Now I won’t feel guilty for staying closer to home to get my Thai food.

Bronze Buddha

Clayton Valley Shopping Center

5434 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 90

Concord

925-524-0768

Hours:

Lunch: Mon. – Sun., 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dinner: Sun. – Thurs., 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Fri. and Sat., 4:30 to 10 p.m.

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