2450 S. Telegraph Rd., Dearborn; 313-730-8161; bangkok96.com
The origins of Bangkok 96 read like an adventure spanning the globe: Owner and operator Genevieve Vang is from Laos, and spent much of her youth visiting Thailand with her family. She finally fled there with her family when the Laotian government fell, spending a few years in dreary refugee camps. One bright spot in this story was Genevieve's blossoming love affair with Thai cuisine, which she continued to cultivate even after her family escaped to Paris. There, she met her husband, Guy Vang, and they came to the United States. After working at the only Thai restaurant in Wayne County, Bangkok Tiger, the couple decided they were ready to strike out on their own, and in 1996 opened Bangkok 96 in a small space on Telegraph Road in Dearborn.
Today, the Vangs serve delicious Thai food that has people coming from miles around. The sweet and sour soup is ridiculously good. In fact, the kitchen seems to have a knack for making Thai food richer and therefore more appealing to U.S. diners. A case in point might be the remarkable tofu kra tiem. Not only is the brown sauce rich and the tofu fried, it almost seems infused with the sauce. It's this kind of evidence of effort that helps a restaurant win the undying respect of repeat diners. —Michael Jackman