Tag Archives: thailand

Wondee Siam II

Thai Town (Hell’s Kitchen) delivers again with Wondee Siam II. I believe there are three of four restaurants with the same name, but I’ve only been to two of them. This one, like the other, is good.

We started with Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. Addicting as fuck.

Then we had this really interesting ground shrimp, pork and crab meat thing. It was deep fried in a tofu skin wrapper (contrary to popular belief, I love tofu skin)

My wife had this delicious crispy duck salad dish – clearly the winner of the day.

I had a wide noodle dish with chicken and mixed veggies. Hit the spot.

WONDEE SIAM II
813 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Thai Select

Kate, the owner of Thai Select, invited me and my wife into the restaurant for a press meal to sample, and yammer about, some of their delicious menu selections.

DSC08951

I nearly got killed by three people going about 40mph on bicycles getting that shot, so please take the time to appreciate it more than usual. It was partially my fault, as I wasn’t watching where I was walking, but whatever. Bicycles still suck.

Anyway this joint is located in the heart of what I am now calling Thai Town in NYC. That’s 9th avenue from the 30s through the 50s. There are TONS of Thai joints on that stretch, and competition is pretty fucking fierce! There are lots of good places to dine here, and also lots of shitty ones as well. You need to know which is which, and that’s what I’m here for.

Thai Select is one of the good ones. In fact, it’s probably one of the best. The inside is decorated with a lounge-like atmosphere, with exposed brick, a long bench seat with two-top tables going along the entirety of the wall.

DSC08953

There’s a bar on the opposite end that goes about a third of the length of the entire restaurant. There’s even a back area that is elevated, almost like a stage, for larger groups.

Chef Toni explained that on Friday and Saturday nights it gets pretty jammed. This was a Monday at 6pm, so we had some elbow room to eat, at least for a little while. It did get to nearly full capacity by time we left at around 7:30pm, which is a good sign.

They offer happy hour from 4pm to 7pm, and allow you to take advantage of those deals from your table. $4 beers is a pretty great deal, for one, but there are others as well. We started by sipping on this cocktail made with citron vodka, canton, fresh ginger and lime called the Springter. It was incredibly refreshing and bright.

DSC08958

Chef Toni sat with us and explained some of the new endeavors that Thai Select is undertaking. One is a new healthy menu, where everything is gluten free, no MSG and no saturated fats, and which highlights the health benefits of various Thai herbs and ingredients.

DSC08956

DSC08957

The offerings on this portion of the menu roll out officially next month, and they actually look really good, even the vegetarian stuff!

Chef Toni has been in the restaurant biz for about seven and a half years, and is already juggling two other joints nearby in Thai Town, in addition to this one.

DSC08955

He’s created a menu that is accessible and familiar to people of all cultures, whether it is American, Indian or Latin, in addition to classic Thai dishes and flavor profiles. Everything is made in house from scratch, all the way down to the dumpling wrappers. Toni’s expertise shines in the food. Everything we tasted was really excellent, so let’s get into it:

We started with this bowl of moo dad deaw, or “pork poppers.” This is small bits of pork jerky that are crispy on the outside and served with a spicy, “fire sauce” that reminded me very much of the sauces made in Vietnam for eating with fried foods. It’s like a sri racha, but more orange colored and slightly sweet, as opposed to all spicy.

DSC08961

I couldn’t eat these things fast enough. I ripped through that bowl like nothing. I could eat buckets of this shit. PLEASE – if you like meat snacks of any kind – do yourself a favor and order this when you go. You won’t be disappointed. If this was sold in bags, I’d be stockpiling for armageddon.

Next we tried the peanut dumplings.

DSC08963

These are stuffed with sweet turnip and ground peanut, and served with a sweet soy sauce.

DSC08964

The wrapper had the texture of a really nicely executed dim sum dumpling, but it held up to cutting without falling apart. Really tasty and healthy to boot.

Toni also brought out one of their better selling appetizer items, the crab rangoon.

DSC08978

These are hand made deep fried wanton wrappers filled with whipped cream cheese and crab meat. They were very creamy and soft inside, but crisp on the outside, and came with a light duck sauce for dipping. While I’m generally not a fan of cream cheese with any sort of meat, these were definitely addicting.

DSC08984

The entree I chose was a Bangkok spice pork stir fry wok dish.

DSC08973

It came with fresh peppers (spicy green chili and sweet red bell alike), green beans and onions. And a nice little cone of rice:

DSC08968

This was a really tasty dish. It had the kick that I expect from good Thai food, but without going over the top to blow out my palette.

My wife had what I think was the winning dish of the night. She ordered the pineapple curry duck.

DSC08969

This robust, spicy-yet-sweet curry is one of the best I’ve had. The duck was placed on top, skin side up, to keep all that delicious fried skin good and crispy throughout. This is actually smoked duck from Canada, so there is less chewy fat under the skin than normal.

DSC08976

There is no waste when you eat this – none at all. No bones, no messy picking up and chewing or gnawing through cartilage or fat, and no sticky smelly fingers afterward. It was awesome. And that curry. MAN! Toni should jar it and sell it at grocery stores. It was garnished with red bell peppers, tomato, green beans, fresh basil leaves, bamboo shoots and chunks of pineapple. Killer dish. No wonder why it is another one of their top sellers.

For dessert we had the fried bananas with coconut ice cream, which was drizzled with honey and chocolate syrup, and sprinkled with toasted and untoasted sesame seeds.

DSC08989

The ice cream was good and flavorful without being too sweet, as were the fried banana egg rolls. We washed this down with some ginger tea and Thai iced tea, which was nicely adorned with a straw-wrapper rose:

DSC08996

I love that chai tea flavor with sweet milk. It reminds me of the smell of fresh pipe tobacco for some reason.

DSC08990

That about wraps it up. Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed eating. Check this place out when you’re in the area and tell them I sent you.

THAI SELECT
472 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10018

Larb Ubol

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

I was recently invited to a press dinner at Larb Ubol. What grabbed my attention about the written invite was that it spoke about authentic Isan Thai food. Different from the more well known Thai food scattered throughout the city, their Thai food focuses on northern flavors like coconut milk, and southern cooking techniques like fusion cooking. Their mission is to introduce people to traditional Northeastern Thai food, which is really spicy and fresh, and known for saltiness. This is not the sweet, Americanized crap you might find in the burbs.

The place was crowded by 7pm. This is a good sign, because it means people are interested in REAL Thai food. It’s wisely located in a very vibrant food area on 9th avenue between 36th and 37th. Pretty decor, casual fun atmosphere.

20140707_202321_LLS

20140707_183859_LLS

20140707_183844_LLS

We started with some Thai iced tea. It was delicious and refreshing, topped with little flower made from the straw wrapper.

20140707_185154_LLS

My wife and I shared the larb duck (ped larb). It was crispy, spicy, fresh, and savory. Really great crispy duck skin was sprinkled in with the ground duck meat. It was served with fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro, chili, onion, fish sauce, cabbage and celery.

20140707_185842_LLS

That was pretty spicy and salty, so I cooled down with a Lao lager.

20140707_190557_LLS

We also shared grilled squid (pla muk yang). This had a good char and was perfectly cooked, clean, and simple. Add some fresh cracked pepper on it, and it’s a star dish.

20140707_190351_LLS

My wife ordered the red snapper for her entrée (larb pla kra pong). Unbelievable presentation. It was a gorgeous full fish, fried crispy with scallions, chili, onion and herbs. The skin was so crispy that it reminded us of baked chicken wing skin. So tasty.

20140707_191832_LLS

20140707_191817_LLS

I had the crispy pork with Thai eggplant (pad ped moo krob). The pork was belly meat, and was like thick chunks of spicy bacon candy. So fucking good. And this was a steer in the right direction, by the way. Our waitress pointed us to the jewels of this place when she realized what we were after as we ordered: crispy duck, crispy pork. Initially I was going to order duck stew with Chinese broccoli (broccolini) for my entrée and pork larb to start, but she pointed me to the larb duck and this pork dish instead. Well done. This was great, especially with the sticky rice that we ordered on the side.

20140707_191902_LLS

For dessert we tried coconut ice cream and Thai shaved ice. Both were garnished with corn kernels and sweet gelatins. The shaved ice reminded us of the dessert drinks in Vietnamese cuisine, only more solid. However the strawberry bubblegum-esque sort of flavoring was a bit off to us, but it was still refreshing and contrasted nicely after all the salty and spicy food we just ate. The coconut ice cream was smooth and creamy, and had coconut shavings in it.

20140707_200441_LLS

20140707_200427_LLS

Also worth noting: the food portions are big here. I even noticed the noodle dishes at neighboring tables were big enough for two to share. And, most importantly, the food was so good that I found myself looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch.

LARB UBOL
480 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10018