Vegan cuisine might not be the first thing many carnivores think of when dining out, but the chefs at Urban Vegan are working to change that. They don’t sacrifice flavor in their Thai and Asian dishes, instead using soy pepper steak, soy shrimp, and seitan to give their entrees a satisfyingly meaty texture. But it’s how the dishes are prepared that really makes them tasty. Stir-fried mushrooms and fresh ginger give one dish its complex interplay of flavors, and hot red curry paste makes another spicier than Tabasco-brand mouthwash.
Natural light filters through Thai Uptown’s floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating lime-green walls and wooden panels scored with twinkling bulbs. This light, however, can’t penetrate the curtain of steam that rises from the kitchen as chefs brew colorful curries and coat chicken and shrimp with spicy Thai chilies. Perennial favorites include duck noodle soup and stir-fried wok noodles, which guests can use to lasso their server in order to pay a compliment.
Everything on the menu at Siam Noodle and Rice—from the basil leaf meatballs to the peanut sauce—is home-cooked from scratch before it sees the dining room. The family-run kitchen has used these authentic methods since 1987, creating entrees to fill out the appetizing heading of "Hot & Spicy Homestyle Thai." Refreshing bites of papaya salad balance out fiery deep-fried chicken wings and Thai pork sausage. Their stir-fries mingle peppers, chili paste, and bamboo shoots with a variety of meats. The Pad Prig Khing, for example, serves roast pork over steamed rice with pepper sauce, string beans, and lime leaves, and the Kao Na Ped rice dish decorates boneless duck with homemade sauce and sliced ginger.
The ingredient-smiths at Masala Indian & Mediterranean Cuisine construct an extensive menu of noodles, curries, and vegetarian specialties that blend Indian and Thai culinary staples. A clay oven fires flavored naan breads, as well as lamb, chicken, and seafood dishes augmented with piquant indian spices. Chefs prepare vegetarian options to appease meat-free maws, and a swath of Thai dishes combines rice noodles with meat, tofu, or veggies. Plates of fiery delicacies rest atop royal-blue tablecloths, surrounded by wood-lined walls and posters of famous curries autographed by the spices themselves.
Siam Country's skilled chefs whip up a menu of traditional Thai dishes infused with a revelry of seasonings and spices. Starter spring rolls and egg rolls insulate morsels of shrimp, bean sprouts, and tofu, and an array of curry dishes bulks up with juicy barbecue beef and flame-kissed slices of chicken. Tamarind sauces, basil leaves, and cilantro spark flavor fireworks in stir-fried noodle dishes, and mint leaves and lemongrass perk up salads packed with barbecue beef or ground tuna. Thai cream soda washes down spicy bites, and a savory Thai custard jabs mouths with a quick jolt of sweetness without the pain and shame experienced while boxing a gingerbread man.
Instead of dictating which wines or beers go best with their lineup of authentic Thai dishes, the chefs at Always Thai let their customers decide. Living up to their assessment as a "charming restaurant" in the Michelin Guide for the past three years, they welcome guests to bring in their own beverages to compliment anything from tongue-scorching curries to classic noodle dishes. The spicy Thai-style barbecue pork, for instance, pairs well with sweeter, less tannic wines, while more tart dishes, such as the lime chicken, go very well with Gose beers. Of course, the dishes also work with non-alcoholic drinks, too— the staff whip-up bubble teas, Thai iced coffees, and herbal teas on-site.