Saturday, November 10, 2007

Regional Thai in Chelsea

This restaurant has a related version of the dish called Chiang Rai noodles or Kow Soy. Chiang Rai is another Northern Thai town nearish to Chiang Mai, the area where Khao Soi basically originates.

No Thai staff that I could see, except they told me "the chef is definitely Thai, I'm sure of that." when I asked what part of Thailand s/he was from that they had Khao Soi on their menu. The environs are pleasant enough, with a nice saffron orange color scheme and Thai writing all over the walls, perhaps to make up for the lack of any Asians in there. I have my suspicions that they share a kitchen and waitstaff with the Salsa y Salsa Mexican restaurant next door given the matching color schemes and that both cuisines use plenty of lime, garlic, and cilantro.

They gave us a free super sweet fried noodle and bean sprout appetizer which I didn't really understand the point of, but hey, it was "on the house" so what the hell!

My friend Chris, my best companion in this quest for the ultimate NY Khao Soi has finally seen the light that he should order this dish when we go out, so he got the standard chicken version and I got the vegetarian tofu version. We didn't therefor get to try any other dishes aside from the overly sweet appetizer, but we did strike up a conversation with two people at the table next to us who were wondering why we were taking so many pictures of the food and none of ourselves. They said their fried rice dish was passable but nothing exciting.

Both versions of the Khao Soi we got (yes, I tasted the chicken version's broth, despite my pesca-non-crustacean-pastry-veganism, so call me an opportunivore if you will) were very brothy, salty soup stock flavor, not enough coconut milk or sourness. It was almost like they used an onion soup mix base or something. There were some good toppings— fried noodles, scallions, cilantro, the essential pickled mustard— but no shallots fresh or fried, no chili paste, and the toppings were already on there, so no adjusting the taste to your liking. The noodles were some very strange large round noodles like udon, the likes of which I'd never seen in Thai food, and they were a bit hard to handle with the small spoons we were given. Maybe it's something "regional" or maybe it's something Mexican. ;-)

All in all, a bit underwhelming, especially when you could go another 25 blocks north and be at Pam Real or 20 blocks south and be at Galangal, both of which have much better versions.

Regional Thai Taste
208 7th Ave

New York, NY 10011
and 22nd street
(212) 807-9872

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