Sorry I've been so incommunicado recently, but I have several good excuses: I've been showing up on New York Times videos about delicious mangosteens, replanning the trip I'm co-leading to Bali in September to taste those delicious mangosteens, finishing my Ph.D. thesis and I have my defense this Friday... and, more pertinently, I've been getting scooped by the NY Times Dining Section.
Several months ago now (wow, has it been that long since that existential experience?) I'd found Rhong Tiam on LaGuardia in the Village listed on menupages as serving Khao Soi. So when I found myself nearby with my friend Jeff after a Moth Story Slam, we checked it out. I was crossing my fingers that I could keep my good reputation as making the best restaurant recommendations to Jeff whenever he's in town, and it seems like I did with this one. We were both blown away in several ways: how good the food was, how hot the food was, and how empty the place was for how good the food was. Granted, it was a rainy Monday night at 10 PM, but still! There should be lines out the door at this place. To rectify the situation, I hurriedly reviewed it on chowound.com where my pseudonym is ephramzz, and, surprisingly, it had almost no other reviews. I couldn't imagine that I'd actually gotten to this place first of all the blogging Thai food fanatics in NYC, but apparently I had.
Then the New York Times seemed to pick up on the chowhound review in their glowing review of Rhong Tiam 3 weeks ago, since they mentioned "chowhounders" several times. I'm glad they did the review because I was worried that the restaurant wasn't crowded and needed more business, but now it's going to be too crowded for even little ol' me to get in there! Well, hopefully, they'll remember my weird questions about the ginger-relative Kra Chai in the eggplant with bamboo shoots dish and let me sit on the Vespa scooter they have sitting out front and eat off the dashboard.
You can read my review of the rest of Rhong Tiam on chowhound, but what really interests you all here is the quality of the khao soi! So let's get to it. This is one of the best, if not the best Khao soi on offer in NYC, up there with AM Thai Chili Basil and Sripraphai, but with all the yummy ingredients and toppings and more: mung beans, pickled mustard, red onion, crispy noodles, egg, baby corn, spinach, and tofu. Just missing the fried shallots I suppose, but it was so spicy and good that I paid no attention. Perhaps I was in super-endorphined state from the heat of the shredded fried catfish with green mango dish especially, but I've been back since and taken the spice a little mellower and the Khao Soi was still incredible. It is substantial, thick, creamy, flavorful, tangy, with a nice heat, pretty much all you could want from a dish of northern-Thai-yellow-curried-noodle-goodness! The waiter said it's always that spicy, that it just depends on the dish. We didn't try the "heat challenge" they offered, but felt we were heat challenged ourselves. The chef was supposedly from Chiang Mai, hence the presence of Khao Soi on their menu. Thank god for the presence of Khao soi and everything else on their menu!
I've got a few more old Khao Soi reviews up my sleeve from all this time not blogging about it (what? You think I laid off eating the stuff too? No way!), so those will be coming out soon, right after my defense. Wish me luck!
Rhong Tiam easily gets all 5 stars for its delicious Khao soi, and for every other aspect of the restaurant (other food, service, ambiance), so get there as soon as you can, but perhaps call first or go on an off night, since it will still be fairly crowded from the NY Times review.
541 Laguardia Pl
New York NY 10012
between Bleecker and Houston