Posts Tagged With: Hells kitchen

The Pure Thai Cookhouse Survival Guide

Pure Thai RatchaburiI started this blog in 2012, about 2 years after Pure Thai Shophouse opened on 9th ave.  Yes, it was called Shophouse back then, until two lawyers from Chipotle walked inside demanding a name change.  Little Pure Thai was apparently a threat to Chipotle’s brand spanking new Asian Kitchen Shophouse brand.  And what do you know, the threat was apparently real.  Long time readers of this blog know the story.  The initial idea was to create a sense of a Thai street Shophouse-like environment inside.  The place is after-all “if you sneeze you may miss it” tiny, cramped, slightly uncomfortable, and sometimes even smells a little.  My type of place.  But if not your type, this post may help.

It feels like Pure has been open a while longer considering how many times I’ve been there (somewhere between 50-100).  I used to go there with co-workers whenever I felt like it, until it got so popular that we would need to leave the office at 11:45, 15 minutes before opening.  We would sometimes even have practice drills and those who’d fail would be on a three month lunch probation.  Over the years, I’ve seen it become a lot more popular with tourists.  When I get emails from visitors (tour inquiries, hate mail, marriage proposals, etc), Pure is mentioned more than any other place.  But not only I’m glad its successful, I couldnt keep it a secret if I wanted to.  In the great sea of 9th ave Thai, there’s really nothing like it.  And while establishments next door are adjusting to mass tourism with increased prices and smaller portions, Pure continues to do it the only way they know how

Pure Thai Pork

Pure Thai Pork

There’s a reason why Pure has been on the Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide from day one.  If you are simply after rainbow colored curries, and the basic Pad, Pure may not be the right place.  But as I will mention again soon, if there’s a curry dish on that board in the back, it instantly becomes the best curry on 9th.  Pure’s specialty is noodles, soups and old family, and regional recipes from all over Thailand.  Here’s a little noob guide to help you take advantage of this little gem

When to come:  As I mentioned this place has gotten very popular over the years.  If I’m solo I come whenever I want.  Two people can try as well with a solid backup option in mind (Danji).  They will call you when your table is ready if theres a long wait (plenty of bars on 9th).  But most convenient time is right when they open (noon), or 2:30 to 4:30 pm

What to expect:  You can look at the pictures to get a sense of the type of space.  Some of the friendliest people you will ever meet in NYC.  The staff functions like a family, some of which have been there for a while.  Sometimes they close for a few days for a retreat in a house they own upstate NY.  While I never felt totally uncomfortable there, this is as far as it gets from Michelin comfort.  You may sit on tiny stools, sharing a tiny table, staring at your partner or an old Thai action movie poster.  And then there’s the 80’s Thai disco to complete the moodPure Thai

What to order:  The reason for this post….

Green Papaya Salad – This is a classic Thai dish that you can get everywhere including all over 9th ave.  But Pure’s version is… well, pure, loaded with addictive heat and dried shrimp.  If you never had a Papaya Salad before, you came to the right place.

Roasted Baby Back Ribs – These ribs wont win the coveted Crazy Roscoe BBQ championship any time soon (Ok, I totally made that up), but this is finger licking magic, loaded with bean paste, oyster sauce, sesame, sitting on top of the luckiest lettuce on the planetPure Thai Ribs

Jungle Curry Fried Rice With Chicken – Some of the best simple looking fried rice dishes you’ll find in the city.  Fragrant, and spicy (notice a trend?  It ends soon).  Serves as a great side dish or main.

Ratchaburi Crab & Pork Dry Noodles – This is the Oprah Winfrey of the Pure dishes.  A dish liked by everyone.  A specialty of Ratchaburi region, where one of the owners (wife) hails from.  Its very mild and so a safe dish for the heat challenged, but satisfying enough for those seeking bolder flavors.  Scoop up the broth to the top and mix this baby well.

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Wok Curry Paste With Pork (second from top)- More delicious heat.  Loaded with the best of Thai… string beans, Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, green peppercorn, basil, and kaffir lime curry sauce.  One of my favorite Wok dishes here, along with the Chili Turmeric With Beef, and Roasted Chili With Shrimp

Sukhothai Pork Noodles Soup – One of my favorite soups in Hell’s Kitchen.  It got the depth, the aroma and all kinds of pork action.  Three different textures of pork in fact including craklings.Pure Thai Sukhothai

Special – When you come in, treasure awaits on the board in the back.  The mains are more exciting.  Often beef or shrimp sauteed with some kind of spicy paste, market fresh veggies, Jasmine rice, and a fried egg.  And as I mentioned before, if its curry, it instantly becomes the best curry on 9th.

Mango or Pumpkin Sticky Rice – Possibly the most important tip here since you can easily miss it.  Its the lone dessert, always on the board as a special.  Sometimes its Mango, Pumpkin and sometimes both.  Served on top of sticky rice, with sesame and coconut milk on banana leaf.  Its warm, with just enough sweetness, and simply heavenly.

Thai Iced Tea – Goes without saying.  This is a good one

Pure Thai Pumpkin

Pure Thai Cookhouse - Curry Special

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Best Thai Dishes in Hell

Pure Thai RatchaburiIn East Village, during my tour we discuss the 4 pillars or principles of the Temperance movement when we visit a Temperance fountain: Temperance, Faith, Hope, and Charity.  While in Hell’s Kitchen we discuss the 4 pillars of Hell’s Kitchen: Thai, Mexican, Ramen, and Gay Bars.  Temperance supporters would obviously disapprove of this neighborhood today.  Until they taste any of the items below that is.

My 5 favorite Thai dishes that appear in the latest W42st, come from 3 places, the only Thai I go to these days in Hell’s Kitchen.  (There must be around 30 in the area).  Rule of thumb for Thai in HK and anywhere pretty much, the dingier the place, the better the food.  If you see chandeliers, run.  If it smells a little, and you see a menu that looks like hasnt changed in 15 years with items crossed out with a pen, stay.

Pick up your free copy of W42st anywhere in Hell

Ratchaburi Crab & Pork Dry Noodles at Pure Thai Cookhouse – Its all in the name. Mix in the broth from the bottom of the bowl and you get magic. A good introduction to the outrageous 9th avenue Thai scene for the rookies

Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – One of my favorite winter dishes. Chunks of tender, juicy Oxtail in a beautiful Vinegary broth that packs a punch (heat!). Its BYOB! Bring Your Own Bounty.Pam Real Oxtail Soup

Duck Larb at Larb Ubol – When in Larb, you have to eat, well, Larb. An Isan specialty of liberally seasoned minced meat with chili, lime and other addictive goodies served in room temperature. I’m partial to the ducky

Larb Ubol larb

Seafood Kee Mao at Pam Real Thai – And the Dandruff award goes to… Over the years I tried this guilty pleasure all over Hell’s Kitchen. This is head and shoulders above everyone else.

Pumpkin Custard at Pure Thai Cookhouse – When a place has only one dessert, well, you have no choice. Because its only one. A not too sweet custard with coconut sticky rice inside a banana leaf is pure diviness.

Pure Thai Pumpkin

 

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Hell’s Kitchen – Eating Outdoors

IMG_6257A new month means a new W42st edition floating all over Hell’s Kitchen.  I love doing the Hell’s Kitchen tours on launch day and seeing them everywhere.  The design and size of those babies brightens galleries, restaurants, and even those $5 fortune tellers.  This month’s theme is outdoors, and for only $5 you can probably find out next month’s exciting theme.  So pick up a copy and check out the rest of the issue including these outdoor venue picks, in color this time

Gotham West Market – Brilliantly designed, with outside bar counters and tables on both sides.  Even the occasional Lincoln Tunnel traffic is respectful

Il Baretto – Well crafted sandwiches and salads on the quiet side of the kitchen (ok, quieter).  Facing HK’s biggest park.

The Marshal – Try not to sneeze when you pass by this Farm to Sidewalk, or you may miss it.  Its like the speakeasy of outdoor dining

Otto’s Tacos – Get the Shrimp tacos with a side of Masa fries and watch the world go by.  And by world I mean tourists.

The Press Lounge – At the end of the day, this is the place to soak it all in.  Hooray for zoning laws!IMG_6256

 

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Pam Real Thai – Severely Underrated, Still

Pam Real Thai Kha SoiIts a tale of two Thais.  Pure Thai Cookhouse, a jam packed frat party at pretty much any time of the day, sometimes even just outside.  Pam Real Thai, eerily quiet even at peak times sometimes.  Pure has a limited, concentrated menu for Thai standards, while Pam has a megillah that includes all the color of the rainbow curries and other American Thai.  Pure is where I bring visitors to experience the vibe and some regional specialties you wont find anywhere else, while Pam is terribly unattractive and uninviting.  So why do I keep going to Pam Real Thai.

Well, for starters, for some of the same reasons mentioned above.  I dont want to wrestle tourists and locals for a table.  As local as Pure is, the number of tourists that go there nowadays increased dramatically.  I usually dont have much of a problem if I go solo as I can often get a seat on the counter facing the wall, but that means I get a seat by the counter facing the wall!  At Pam not only I get a full table, but I sometimes get an entire section all too myself.  I can spread my legs in all directions including Sharon Stone style and no one will bat an eye.  I can listen to a conversation from across the room (95% theater industry related.  Boy do they like to curse).  I can hear a lung collapse and call 911 before its too late.  At Pure I get to listen to Mandarin or French by the folks sitting  pretty much on my lap, while the rest is white noise mixed in with the bizarre but catchy Thai disco. Pam Real Thai Pad Ped

And then there’s the food.  Pam Real’s food can be, well.. unreal sometimes.  I’ve written much about its Oxtail soup, which inspired me to finally bring my wife and kids for a meal the other day.  That pleasant vinegary heat, and all those chunks of Oxtail which increased over the years means you gotta work it, and may even sweat a little.  But its just so damn good.  Same goes for their outrageous Khao Soi, a Northern Thai curry-like noodle soup packed with chili oil and topped with deep-fried crispy egg noodles.  On a cold winter day especially, the soups work like magic, while in the summer they can cure summertime sadness (worth repeating because its true).

I wish I could keep score of the goodies and badies (food blogger lingo) I’ve had here over the years.   The big complaint from me is that its a very full menu. Steamed Thai Dumplings here can be as good as cheap Thai dumplings or Shumai can get.  Pad Ped (red curry paste, bamboo shoot, basil, and bell pepper) with your choice of meat or seafood is always solid.  I go for the seafood mix (shrimp and squid) when I feel particularly naughty.  Same goes for the rest of the sauteed lineup like Crispy Pork With Basil, Pad Prik Khing (curry paste, long bean and lime leaves).  For the most part these guys are not shy with their spices.  There used to be a time when my go-to Thai dish was Pad Kee Mao (drunken noodles) everywhere and Pam’s seafood Kee Mao was head and shoulders above everyone else in this Thai rich hood.  The generously crabby and excellent crab fried rice is another must get when you are sharing.Pam Real Thai Whole Fish

Crispy fried whole fish is one of those things I rarely order at Thai restaurants because its usually almost purposely overcooked, albeit liberally spiced and herbed.  Here you can have your Red Snapper or another fresh fish a number of ways.  I dont recall the name we tried, but it was smothered with a mild sweetish chili sauce, almost like a mild red Yemeni S’chug.  While we enjoyed it I dont know if I would spend another $28 on it again. The irony here is that I prefer “Thai Style Fish” at menus in non Thai restaurants, like Cull and Pistol.

Pam Real is a solid go.  Dont worry about looks and reviews (very full menu + delivery = reviews all over the place).  With Thai restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen especially looks can be deceiving.   If you want beautiful chandeliers, go to Room Service.  For good honest food, go to Pam.

Pam Real Thai
404 W 49th St (off 9th), Hell’s Kitchen
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that.
Recommended Dishes: Oxtail Soup, Khao Soi, Thai dumplings, Pad Ped, Pad Prik Khing, Crispy Pork, Pad Kee Mao, Crab Fried RicePam Real Thai Crab Frid RicePam Real Oxtail Soup

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Date Night:  5 Unconventional Pre-theater Picks

danji-big-korean-breakfastLove is in the air on EWZ, and inside the latest KTCHLST, the mini zine inside the big zine (you see what I did there, Hebrew speakers?).  The big zine is W42st, Hells Kitchen’s own magazine.  And if you cant find it, you are either not looking hard enough or not deep enough (Like I said, love is in the air).  This month on KTCHLST, I list 5 Unconventional pre-theater Picks.  Well, just about all my HK picks are pretty unconventional, but these 5 have a certain Je ne sais quoi.  Ok, one of them has dildos on display, so I can explain that one.  Description are kept short in order to fit inside mini zine

Chaan Teng – Nothing quite like this 9th Ave newcomer offering American Chinese with a twist. If the General Tso and dumplings won’t get you in the mood, the elevated Kama Sutra decor will.

Danji – Semi celebrity chef Hooni Kim dishing out all sorts of Korean awesomeness in this quirky hole. Try the Tofu, wings and the rest, quickly before we have drop the “Semi” part.

Taboon – Ever since the old chef came back, Taboon has been hot hot hot, just like its legendary Taboon (oven). Rumor has it, the Silan dessert can fight impotence.

Mentoku Ramen – A sexier, quiet alternative to the craziness of the more popular area Ramen. Enjoy the fried chicken and Yuzu Ramen with the soothing jazz in the background

Mercato – A solid Italian on the “wrong” side of 42nd with an all Italian staff (extra brownie points). Chef Manu introduces Sardinian, Sicilian and other southern specialties unique to Hell’s Kitchen

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Hell’s Kitchen – Summer Update

ziggysite1New Ramen, Mexican, Sushi, and Indian Lunch Buffet.  Thats right, Indian Lunch Buffet

https://eatingwithziggy.com/2013/06/27/the-hells-kitchen-survival-guide/

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Gotham West Update

Gotham West Market 2

Latest on Gotham West Market and the next Most Interesting Man in The World….

https://eatingwithziggy.com/2014/03/28/gotham-west-market-top-eats/

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Hell’s Kitchen – What’s Up?

IMG_2985Latest news from the kitchen of Hell:

I’ve been enjoying a little Ecuadorian hole in the wall on 10th called Nano as of late.  Nano has some serious Nonaism going on, with homey nona style recipes filling up the menu like the Caldo de Bola soup which made the Best Soups in HK cut.  For lunch you got various deals that include the Seco de Pollo, chicken strips in a mild but pleasant gravy, and Sango de Res, beef in a soup like green plantain sauce.  Some of the other offerings look very much Peruvian.  I’ll be adding this one to the Survival GuideCaldo de Bola at Nano

Staying with the Peruvian theme, adding Pio Pio as a large group option to the guide.  Pio Pio is a chain and it wont win any James Beard or Z-List awards any time soon.  But for larger groups, even fairly last minute, I cant think of better options that are also affordable in the area.  Décor downstairs is somewhat funky, drinks are good.  When its time to celebrate something at my company and I’m asked for “Not as expensive as last time, please” (think Blue Ribbon or Taboon), I’m left with a Pio Pio

Removing Hell’s Chicken.  I just dislike going here.  No atmosphere, lackluster food at times.  Honestly the only Korean you need to know about is Danji.

There was a time when I would wet dream about our office being in East Village.  By wet dream I mean, a co worker would shout “Its happening again!”, and another coworker would pour cold water on me.  But those moments are long gone (Replaced by a younger Salma Hayek).  Nowadays, not only Hell’s Kitchen is thriving in the food front, but businesses from East Village are slowly opening locations here.  Taqueria Diana very quietly is the latest one to open a branch on 9th (39th), just a few small blocks from the mew Tehuitzingo.  While a mixed bag so far (good al pastor, poor carnitas), the promise is there for a proper California style Burrito.  With all this Mexican greatness in the hood, I still cant find a decent reliable Burrito.  Oy, first world problems!IMG_2983

A lot of changes happening at Gotham West MarketEl Colmado, trying to become a viable lunch option as its neighbors, introduced a lunch menu consisting of sandwiches and salads.  But based on the punchless fancy burger I had yesterday, they need to work a little harder.  Ivan Ramen keeps reshuffling its lineup introducing various “buns” (think pork buns) including Pastrami buns.  The all-day breakfast ramen which used to be mornings only, is possibly the best thing you can eat in the building at the moment.  The most interesting addition to the market as of late has been Uma Temakeria from Chris Jaeckle, owner of the terrific All’onda in West Village.  The specialty here is Sushi served in wacky forms like nori cones (think ice cream sushi), Burritos, and design your own Chirashi bowls.  Nothing shockingly exciting, but so far so good with everything I tried.  A refreshing addition for the raw fish lovers

If you missed it, I recently blogged about my favorite soups in the area.  A blog post my mom would have been very proud of.  And before that, I gave you my favorite Thai around.  Since then however, I’ve been enjoying another place called Siri Thai on 10th ave, but not quite ready to put on the list with three very solid places there already.  The one cool thing about Siri Thai is that its not only the busiest Thai on 10th, it one of the busiest places period.

Buon Appetito!

 Uma Temakeria

Uma Temakeria

Ivan Ramen Breakfast Ramen

 

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HK Just a Bit Outside Update

Blue Ribbon Sushi Oxtail Fried RiceTime to update that good ol’ Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide once again, the bread and butter of this blog.  Well, not from the financial standpoint as I haven’t made a dime yet (I made 8 cents so far total, so almost there).  The theme this time, purely accidental, is as Harry Doyle put it “Juuuust a bit outside” of Hell’s Kitchen, but closer to most readers staying in or near Times Square

Adding Blue Ribbon Sushi on 58th st (near Columbus Circle).  My monthly dose of their oxtail fried rice with bone marrow (top) is becoming more of a religious experience.  As of late I also bring co-workers and visitors to Kung Fu Steamed Buns Ramen for their… you guessed it.. soup dumplings (top of the menu labeled “pork buns” or something like that).  And almost just around the corner is Bibble and Sip for dessert to complete the one-two punch.

Pork Buns

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The Hell’s Kitchen Sandwich Awards

15 years ago when I first got familiar with the area, I couldn’t name two decent sandwiches.  Well, I could actually, but they would not have made this list today.  Times, as they say, “They Are A-Changin'”, as the area is suddenly flooded with all sorts of well crafted sandwiches that even tourists should target.  If I miss a big one here, please share.  But as far as I know these are some of the best and most unique sandwiches in Hell’s Kitchen and in some cases NYC.  And to make it just a little bit more interesting, I gave them awards!

The Dolly Parton Award- IL VIP at Sergimmo Salumeria.  A most excellent sweet sandwich featuring robust raw materials.  Prosciutto Crudo from Parma, homemade mozzarella, Arcadian mix, EV olive oil and a lovely fig spread from Casa Giulia.  On the sweet side of things like Dolly’s smile, and so not for everyone.

VIP at Sergimmo Salumeria

The Bill Clinton Award – Philly Cheesesteak at Shorty’s. Given to a most outstanding sandwich that comes with the occasional strange urge to pull down your pants even though the thing looks sort of sloppy and unattractive.  Get it the way it was intended.  With Whiz, “Wit” onions, and mushrooms.  I’ve had it in Philly and this is the real deal

Philly Cheesesteak at Shorty's

The Me Love You Long Time Award – Dave at City Sandwich.  A great all around sandwich with top notch ingredients that is best enjoyed slowly with a glass of wine or Manischewitz.  This beauty features an ample amount of fresh minced sausage, chili pepper, garlic, olive oil, melted mozzarella, and peppers, and the Portuguese bread from across the river cant be beat

Dave

The Oom Pa Loom Pa Award – Banh Mi Cha Ca at Co Ba 53.  Given to the best sandwich with the least amount of syllables. Historically given to a Banh Mi.  Hanoi-style fish, usually means “Catfish” or “I cant believe its not Catfish” Swai, Basa, or other Catfish-like creatures, with fresh dill, onion, mayo, jalapenos, and house-made pickles on a French baguette.  Not only easy to pronounce but tastes great

Banh Mi Cha Ca at Co Ba 53

The Kim Kardashian Award – Pig’s Ass Sandwich at Casellula.  Nuff Said!

The If You Build It They Will Come, And Come Again, When Weather Permits, Because Its Too Far Award – Pork shoulder at Court Street Grocers (Gotham West Market).  Given to a most outstanding well crafted sandwich that is a leader in its kind but a little bit out of the way.  Pork shoulder confit, mayo, provolone, broccoli rabe, pickled red peppers inside a terrific Caputo (Brooklyn) hero.  If you ask me, I think the name of the award is too long, but hey I don’t make the rules.

Pork shoulder at Court Street Grocers

The You Say Shawarma, I Say Shawarma Too Award – Shawarma Sandwich at Azuri.  Award given to the best Shawarma!

Note: Azuri is a 2 time “No Soup For You” winner.  Recent reports of Ezra smiling or even happy are most likely greatly exaggerated (I still think its gas) but I can no longer put him in that category.  Everyone seems unfortunately friendly these days or faking their unfriendliness for gimmicky purposes.  “Hey look at me I’m so unfriendly, tell your friends, start calling me the Muffin Nazi, bla bla bla”.  Ezra was a natural!

Azuri Cafe - Chicken Shawarma

The Breaky Bad Award – Bench Girl at City Sandwich.  Given to the best breakfast sandwich.  This one features Portuguese Alheira sausage, Grilled Onions, Spinach, Melted Mozzarella and Olive Oil.  Available all day, every day.  Now lets see if they change the name to Breaky Bad from Bench Girl before any use of online petitions.  Bench Girl sounds boring and borderline insulting if you ask me.

photo (31)

The Carlos Danger Award – Pig’s Head Cuban at The Cannibal (Gotham West Market).  Given to a great sandwich that is especially selfie/twitter/instagram worthy in all its glory.  Pigs head terrine, ham, gruyere, mayo, pickle.  Perhaps the hottest sandwich in Hell’s Kitchen at the moment.

The Cannibal - Pig's Head

The Barack Hussein Obama Award – City Sandwich.  A lifetime achievement award given to the top overall sandwich maker.  Last year’s Miss Congeniality winner takes top honors this year.  A Pioneer and a leader in the Sandwich making business.  Well deserved!  (ps. I’m expecting this mention on the window at City Sandwich in no time.  As my mom used to tell me “if you got them, flaunt them”.  A bumper sticker “I got a sandwich award on EatingWithZiggy will do as well)

Big Big Mazal Tov to all the winners!

City Sandwich

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