Pure Thai Cookhouse – Among the plethora of Thai eateries flooding 9th avenue, Pure Thai stands out (and so will you for a while unless you arrive early or in off hours). It was built to resemble a Shophouse in Thailand in order to give you a taste of the Thai food culture. The menu doesn’t feature the usual curry suspects, but more daring dishes that represent various regions of Thailand. E.g. The Jungle fried rice, the simple Ratchaburi with homemade dry noodles, crab and pork, and the more intense Wok Curry Paste with Pork. The lone dessert, pumpkin custard with coconut sticky rice wrapped inside a banana leaf always a recipe for a full blown attack. 766 9th (51/52)
Pam Real Thai – If you are looking for chandeliers, table cloth, and a little bench for your man purse, you will not find it here. Though “Room Service” another Thai player nearby does have some of these things including nice chandeliers. The minimalist décor is the same as it was 10-15 years ago, and so is the menu. But if you are a fan of flavor and dont care about anything else, this is the place for you. The sick Oxtail soup is reason enough to go, and just about everything else I ever had here is made with a lot of love. Try the Pad Kra Prow (with shrimp), Seafood Kee Mao, Pad Prik Khing, and the terrific Khao Soi. The menu size is intimidating, so ask away if not sure. And the $2 Thai Ice Teas help combat the occasional hefty spice levels. 404 W 49th St (off 9th)
Larb Ubol – In the last several years, we’ve seen a slew of eateries open, specializing in Isan cooking. First there was Zabb Elee who intorduced the bold Northeastern flavors to us, until they gave birth to Larb Ubol. Don’t expect anything more than a bookstore café type décor (notice a trend here?). I bike here sweating the heavy traffic in order to sweat some more with dishes such as the peppercorn heavy Pad Ped Moo Krob and the Duck Larb. The spice levels approach “Thai Spicy” at times (but not quite there) so this is not for the faint of sugar seeking heart. But hey, this is after all Hell’s Kitchen. 480 Ninth Ave (37/36)
Kare Thai – You know what the next best thing to Thai food on 9th? Thai food on 10th! Yes, they are naturally spreading to 10th these days because they are running out of real estate. And among them all, little Kare is my favorite. I’ve had some pleasant meals here with co-workers though I mainly use it for a convenient quick Kee Mao grab on the go, always greeted by smiles. And the complimentary lunch special snack helps. You know what they say, “You give a smile, you get Shumai!”. 752 10th Ave (51/52)
Wondee Siam II – Back in the day, this was the place I frequented. And although I havent been in many years, I still have devoted co-workers that swear by this place. If you are new to Thai food, or simply want to taste something familiar that you are used to and enjoy back home like Green curry and Pad Thai, this may be the right place for you. 813 Ninth Ave (53/54)
Hey Ziggy … How ’bout an address with cross street for each restaurant listing or do I need to go to my Google Machine? Thanks as always for your excellent suggestions.