Ah. You win some, you lose some. I’m pretty convinced this foodie friend of mine always knows the best tiny joints in the city so I was excited to come upon Rice when he led a few of us there a couple days ago. The place itself was so cute, but I think it was a sum of a lot of things that made it not the best experience this time around.
Here’s the cliff notes version. 1) It was raining and cold that night and we walked a good 15 minutes out of our way to get here; 2) We were all starving and waited another 15 minutes to get seated…pretty standard but that feels way longer when you’re famished; 3) To add insult to injury, they took ONE HOUR to get our food out. The people next to us who came after us go their food before we did; 4) When the food did come out, the portions were pretty small. And you’d think being so hungry, anything would do, but my coconut thai curry dish was three-fourths rice and one-fourth curry. I guess to their credit, it’s not false advertising. But I was still starving after my meal!
Spinach rice balls
Lentils and black rice
Granted, I also got the smaller dish (it comes in a small and large), but after waiting so long, I was afraid ordering anything else would take another five years.
The food was not bad, and not expensive. Just probably not worth all that trouble. REPORT CARD
Occasion: My birthday celebration goes on!
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** The place and cute and cozy, I’ll give it that. Loved that they had a fireplace too.
Would I go back?: Nah..even though I’m pretty sure it might have been a one-off experience, it also wouldn’t be on the top of my lists to go back to!
Restaurant Info: Rice
292 Elizabeth St,
btw Houston & Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012
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I used to live right around the corner from Breeze, a Thai-French bistro in Midtown West, but for some reason never stopped to eat here until a few weeks ago (and that too, having dinner with one of the girls I used to live with on 45th, Eugenia). The first thing worth noting I guess is, I’m not really sure what about the menu is really “French.” For the most part, it consists of standard Thai fare. There are some exceptions under the “Chef’s Specials” on the menu, like the Breeze Steak Duboeuf, or the Duck Breast du Paris…both which sounded kind of contrived in order to fit the type of cuisine they’re advertising. I didn’t really have high hopes for this place either, but it did surprise me a bit. The appetizer we had, crispy squid, was for example, outstanding.
It’s apparently a NY Times’ favorite, made with culantro green chili mayonnaise and sweet chili relish. Eugenia ordered spicy noodles which was also good:
But I was REALLY excited for my Thai Basil Burger, which sounded awesome: ground beef with basil marinated with herb grilled and filled with pickled cucumbers, chili, roasted tomatoes and shaved red onion on a sesame roll.
Thai Basil Burger
The truth is, it sounded a LOT better than it tasted. It actually tasted pretty standard. It actually didn’t taste different at all, even with a side of what looked like some kind of green chutney sauce had barely any taste. My thai ice tea though was OK, but I have to say the best part of the meal was definitely the appetizer. If I go again, I wouldn’t even mind ordering a few of the appetizers over a whole dinner plate.
Thai ice tea
Restaurant Info: Breeze
661 9th Ave.
btw 45th and 46th St.
New York, NY 10036
If midtown can boast one thing, I think at this point I’m gonna say it’s their Thai food. I feel like I already have a string of favorites…the hole-in-the-wall Wondee Siam on 9th Ave, and Chanpen a few blocks lower. I can pretty much add Pongsri Thaito that list for their curry dishes and sauteed chicken.
I am really into fried tofu these days when it comes to Thai, especially with a coconut-based curry. I asked for it spicy, and warning — they will make it really spicy.
Panang fried tofu, $11
Wasn’t feeling their seafood as much, though. My friend ordered the “Forget-Me-Not” prawns. We asked her how it was: “You know, these Forget-Me-Not prawns? Yeah, kinda forgot them.”
Forget-me-not prawns, $15.95
I was probably still recovering from my stuffed mussels-high from Turkey and decided to try the steamed mussels here. Wasn’t much of a fan since it was too “seafoody” for me. I guess i just prefer it with rice and lemon juice, sigh.
Steamed Mussels, $12.95
Chicken with flat noodles were delicious though:
Chicken with flat noodles, $10
Prices aren’t bad and it’s a big space for larger parties. I’ve been here multiple times though, and even if I wasn’t big on the seafood (which is probably a personal preference if anything), I’ve never really had a bad experience with food here in general. I feel like midtown has slim pickings at times so it’s always nice to find a place that has yummy food at decent prices.
Restaurant Info: Pongsri Thai
244 W 48th St
btw Broadway & 8th Ave
New York 10036
I’ve eaten at Emapanada Mama enough times to have at least tried this Thai restaurant, Chanpen, right next door earlier — but for some reason I never have until now. Now, I feel like there have been way too many missed opportunities because every dish we had here was so delicious. And SPICY. Very spicy. Like, nose running spicy. If you like/can handle spicy food, you’ll love this place.
Chanpen curry puffs
I think these curry puffs were stuffed with lobster, but I can’t remember exactly. I love coconut-based panang curry (remember when I said I judge a Mexican place by its chicken? I normally judge a Thai place by its panang curry…no, not their pad thai. Not a huge pad thai lover.). So anyway. I usually default to this dish, though this is the first time I ordered it with tofu. Loved it.
Panang curry with tofu
Pad Khi Mao* chicken, sauteed with mixed vegetable, chili and basil
Flat noodles with shrimp
I tried my friends’ plates too, and they were both were not overboard with the oil which I liked. I can’t remember the name of the dish my friend got with the flat noodles/shrimp…but I guess you can just ask for which flat noodle dishes they have there? Sorry, that’s not helpful I know. I need to keep a notepad.
Another thing, you know how SOMETIMES they’ll adjust spice to their…umm..customers? I don’t know if they just made our dishes extra spicy on purpose. I’m not complaining but I guess I’d have to hear from other people if they had the same experience when they went.
Restaurant Info: Chanpen Thai
761 9th Ave.
at the corner of 51st St.
New York, NY 10019
There’s nothing I didn’t love about the food we had at Noodle Bar down in Greenwich Village. Their Pan-Asian food is a healthy mix of Thai, Indian, and Korean-inspired (at least by my count). I ordered their Coconut Shrimp dish with spicy flat noodles.
Coconut Shrimp & Spicy Rice Noodle, $11
What I loved about this dish was the jumbo shrimp was covered by a thick fried coconut shell where you can really taste the flavor. The flat noodles were delicious too, not overly-doused in oil.
Mee Sian: rice vermicelli, tofu, chives, $7.50
My friend Marie got this veggie dish which was equally and unassumingly tasty. She also ordered a mango lassi, which FYI, is doesn’t taste much like real Indian mango lassi (which is a lot thicker and heavy). But I’m not a huge lassi fan anyway so this was good thing to me. The drink really just a standard delicious mango smoothie. The place is not expensive either, perfect for just a simple laidback dinner with friends. Just remember to bring cash. They don’t accept credit cards!
Restaurant Info Noodle Bar
26 Carmine St.
New York, NY
And just a PS, they also have a LES location down on Orchard Street.
Spice is a mini-chain of Thai restaurants sprinkled around NYC. The thing about the Union Square location one is when you walk in, you feel like you might have just walked into some lounge. The thing is, I could have sworn I’ve been here before and it was nothing like this. Reading up on it, I found that it had moved and expanded. This new one is a dimly-lit, bi-leveled restaurant with a red and black theme going on in the decor. The food, which you expect would be a lot more expensive, was actually not that bad ($9-$13 plates). I was starvingggg when I got there, and although the service was a little slow, when we actually got our food, we devoured it.
Drunk man noodles with chicken
Pad thai with chicken
Every plate was pretty good — I wanna go back and try some more!
Restaurant Info: Spice
39 E 13th St
btw 5th Ave & University Pl.
New York, NY 10003