A lunch entree at Ponsgri Thai, on Bayard Street in Chinatown
Everyone — let me start over, just to emphasize that point — everyone always ask me if I have recommendations for Thai dining in Manhattan. I guess that’s what happens when you put yourself out there as a reputed curry expert, or, as reader Gaston recently called me, a “curry goddess.” (Thank you, Gaston.)
Unfortunately, I don’t have too many recommendations for upscale Thai dining in Manhattan. While many eateries — notably, both Ponsgri Thai locations in Chinatown and midtown — offer delicious take-out lunches, too few restaurants supply great food and sophisticated ambience. That’s a combination you sort of expect, especially for a nice dinner out in New York City.
Rather ironically, since I left there years ago in search of finer things elsewhere, the best Thai experience I’ve had in recent memory was at the Lemon Grass in Syracuse, N.Y. But here in Manhattan, it hasn’t been a total wash.
A beacon of hope is Betel in the West Village, which has the most delicious entree, Spicy Southern Curry with Swordfish, that I’ve done my humble best to try to replicate at home (here’s my recipe.) Some other places, which I’ve checked out with my intrepid dining companion FGG, are Kin Shop
and Lotus of Siam (UPDATE: Lotus of Siam is now closed.) Both places score high marks for ambience and coolness quotient — but the food? Hmm, it can be taken up a notch.
A hands-down winner for delicious entrees (but not exactly “destination” atmosphere) is Sala Thai on the Upper East Side. Another restaurant that works hard to get it right (and it almost does) is Land Thai on the Upper West Side.
So, Manhattan is still a work in progress, and please comment if you have any suggestions of fabulous Thai restaurants at which you’d want to, say, spend a Saturday night or celebrate an anniversary. I’d like to know of them.