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.
Breeze in Midtown West
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:
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 Thai to 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.”
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
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.
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