Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kittichai in SOHO

This would be the prima donna of Thai restaurants in New York, if Thai restaurants in New York were opera singers. The place is very done up with a floating pool in the middle of the dining room, gravity-defying cymbidium orchids dancing over the pool, pickled dendrobium orchids in many backlit vials in the entry room/bar, and silk curtains curtains lining the wall. The place ain't cheap either, with main courses ranging from $12-36, averaging $22 (I'm such a geek I'm tempted to give you the median as well, but I'll control myself!).

I'd been excited about coming here to try the Khao Soi for months after sending my friend Doug to try it here this summer and he came back with great reviews of it. So I was instantly disappointed not to find it on the menu, and then asking the server, she informed us that the menu had changed recently and they no longer served what she called "Curry Noodle Chicken". After some pleading she asked the chef if they could still do it, and then the good news came from the kitchen that they could, just without the noodles. I had to send her back a second time to ask them to do a vegetarian version with tofu, and this, after some frustration on her part, she said was OK as well. It seems from these prices they should be a little more willing to handle special requests. From their old menu, this appears to be the dish we finally got, minus the noodles and chicken:
Kao Soy - Organic Chicken Breast, northern style light yellow curry, egg noodles, lime zest ($20.00)

When it came it looked nice, though a little dwarfed by the huge copper bowl it was in (see pic above). It tasted quite good, although I'm not sure I'd call it a Khao Soi. It definitely had the yellow curry broth that had some sourness but it had a strange musky taste that I hadn't tasted before that might have been from star anise or kra chai (wild ginger), used in some northern Thai cooking. If this was really how they used to make it when they did have it on the menu, it lacked any of the key toppings, though the curry was so full of veggies (lantern/thai eggplant, chilis, bamboo shoots, broccoli, mushrooms, snap peas) that you could maybe live without them, save the pickled mustard greens which add such a nice tartness to the dish. That's a necessity! The rest of the food was pretty good, with a whole fried Bronzino in curry sauce, sautéed chinese broccoli, tuna tartar, and a banana blossom and artichoke salad. Interesting twists on Thai dishes, but it seems like you're largely paying for the decor. Thanks Mom and Dad for the tasty meal!

Kittichai (warning! High flash-oriented site!)
60 Thompson St.
New York‎, NY‎ 10012
between Broome and Spring
(212) 925-2971

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