December 1st, 2019 Update:
Even with one of the most prominent Thai gone (Larb Ubal), Thai food in Hell’s Kitchen today is an embarrassment of riches. They keep multiplying, making ugly babies. On 9th they are more common than pharmacies or delis. On 10th where its much tougher to survive, they are going strong. But if I have to pick one name out of the bunch that has the best combination of food, comfort, and accessibility, its Taladwat.
Like a fine wine aging in dog years, Taladwat gets better every month. David Bank (Pure Thai Cookhouse) and Brian Ghaw (Feast) essentially perfected the local formula by offering the most robust Thai flavors inside a mini beer garden setting. The setting and concept is unlike anything else available on 9th, or pretty much the city for that matter. While its not the prototypical pre-theater type, the location, and accessibility (at the moment) makes it the perfect pre-theater pick. Our last meal was before Tootsie, and as great as the show was, the meal was even better. And cheaper.
The big takeaway from the last feast was the Short Rib, Kaffir Chicken and a perfectly grilled Branzino special. The Kaffir Chicken is like a fiery no nonsense Isan Larb, filling the void left by Larb Ubol. The Ginger Braised Short Rib was pure lip-smacking goodness. I would order that sauce alone. Another big hit at the table was a stir fry of Japanese Pumpkin, egg and shallots. The crab and Turmeric Curry Chicken are musts on every visit. But you cant really go wrong here. Just right, and righter.
January 20, 2019 Post:
When a new Thai opens in Hell’s Kitchen, and no one hears about it, does it make a sound? Not so much these days in the closest thing we have to Thai-Town where Thai food in many forms dominate 9th ave and beyond. But what happens when the owners of the most important Thai in Hell open something after being quiet for many years. You get a tsunami in comparison. Such is the case with the new baby sister of Pure Thai Cookhouse a few blocks down called Taladwat
I didnt realize the connection when I first walked by Taladwat from Kinky Boots (meh!). But I was intrigued by the menu that looked very different than the usual bunch. There’s not much in common with Pure Thai here except perhaps for originality and some key ingredients. Communal wooden tables dominate the rustic spacious room that looks more like a little Thai beer garden.
Over 20 dishes with prices next to them that most likely wont mean much to you. Thats because most select the Pick and Mix option; 2 for $16 for lunch, or $21 for dinner for the smaller tapas like versions of the dishes. I’ve taken advantage of the deal in all of my five visits so far. Two dishes per person is a good amount. I will update this post from time to time but out of the dishes I tried so far here are my current favorites…
Vegetable Green Curry – The curries here, whether in paste or creamy form are all solid. This has just enough kick to remind you that you are not in one of the ordinary Thais on 9th
Crabmeat Tom Turmeric – Just like at Pure, crab reigns supreme with some key dishes. This is just a well balanced milky goodness.
Pad Prik Khing Pork – Similar but not the same as one of my favorite pork dishes at Pure. It comes with green Thai long beans they love so much, and a more complex, potent curry paste
Pork Stew – A mild but delicious stew that is not as shareable as other dishes, but there’s just enough meat for two. It comes with some tofu and a hard boiled, hence “stew”
Turmeric Curry Chicken – Another outstanding curry. Juicy, succulent dark meat ladened with a curry paste with some serious depth
Steamed Pompano – This is a small white fish that doesnt offer a lot of flesh, but whatever you can extract is quite delicious especially once you add the green chili sauce that comes with the dish. Pompano can only be served whole due to its size and bonyness (I may have swallowed a few but hey what can I say, I’m living on the edge. Yesterday I let my phone’s battery go down to 10%!)
714 9th Ave (49th)
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Turmeric Curry Chicken, Crabmeat Tom Turmeric, Pad Prik Khing Pork, Ginger Braised Short Rib, Branzino (special), Kaffir Chicken, Japanese Pumpkin