Ceetay's elegantly plated meals of grilled seafood, garlicky fried rice, and tender noodles tossed with colorful veggies tastefully blend the culinary influences of Japan, China, Thailand, and the United States. Like Bruce Springsteen lyrics embroidered onto a wool sweater, the interior evokes a post-industrial mystique that's strangely charming and cozy, with warm light from mason-jar chandeliers bathing small tables surrounded by walls clad in Chinese newsprint. Two small open kitchens allow patrons to watch chefs prepare meals of maple-kissed beef, soba-noodle stir-fry, or hazelnut crème brûlée. Interesting ingredients such as sea urchin, crispy salmon skin, and wagyu beef infuse sushi rolls with rich flavors and textures, and frosty Japanese beers and European and American wines offer suitable complements no matter the diner's dinner selection.
Though its name leaves no question about its place of origin, Born Thai has found a comfortable home in Prospect Heights. The restaurant’s décor reflects the neighborhood’s up-and-coming hipness, with clusters of bare light bulbs that illuminate metallic walls. Far more important than any decorations, however, is the food, which can be described as a modern approach to traditional Thai cuisine. Crispy duck rolls and crab cakes headline the menu of appetizers; both dishes set the stage nicely for main attractions of tofu covered with tamarind and shrimp sautéed in a sweet pumpkin-basil sauce. Adventurous eaters would be wise to listen to Jill Weiskopf, the New York Magazine writer who promises they “will find their nirvana in the fiery drunken noodles.” Rather than carry around a burdensome fire extinguisher, just order a creamy thai iced tea following the meal. And if that’s not enough to cool you down, there’s always a fried banana served with ice cream.
"It sounds like an NYU student’s dream come true," Time Out New York said about Cafetasia, "a sleek eatery on 8th Street serving dishes for less than $10." Indeed, the eatery stands out as a Greenwich Village haven for patrons seeking an innovative dining experience that nonetheless manages to feel inviting and deeply familiar. This sense of déjà vu is most likely triggered by Cafetasia’s cafeteria-style wooden tables—imported from Europe one splinter at a time and reassembled here. These communal tables invite guests to share elbow space as well as a bit of conversation with their fellow diners, much like in a college dining hall.
And much like a dining hall, the menu emphasizes the power of choice by offering a spread of tapas-style small plates; however, the chefs' skills with pan-Asian flavors elevate the cuisine above any cafeteria buffet. Borders don't constrain the chefs' ambition, and they jump from Japan and China to Thailand and Vietnam as they forge their shareable plates. In addition to curries tinged with aromatic doses of basil, pumpkin, or roasted chilies, the menu features teriyaki-glazed chicken, spring rolls with a pineapple-vinaigrette dipping sauce, and ginger-kissed chicken gyoza, which New York magazine called "addictive."
Cafetasia's dining room's décor also aims for a balance between the modern and the familiar. Suspended electric candlesticks seem to float above the tables, casting their gentle light across the rich wooden walls and ceiling. A burnished Buddha statue and a leafy potted plant lend a bit of traditional flair to the restaurant's warm and inviting ambiance.
Without a month or so of vacation, it'd be almost impossible to sample authentic noodle dishes from four different countries. However, aja noodle co. can help you accomplish this feat over the course of a single lunch hour. Its pan-Asian menu incorporates regional dishes from Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand, all made individually and from scratch using fresh produce and proteins.
Though the food has its roots in tradition, it's all fully customizable. Guests choose which protein—including veggies, tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp—they want mixed in with their pad thai or rice bowls. They can also swap out one type of noodles for another, perhaps exchanging lo mein for soba or rice noodles for shoelaces they brought from home. Sauces infused with spicy black beans or sweet coconut milk give the bowls a flavorful base, and vegetarian and vegan options are available for folks with dietary restrictions. aja noodle co. also offers a selection of beer and wine by the glass or bottle and a wide arrange of original recipe sake cocktails.
According to co-owner Apisip Kulviwat, the name for Up Thai is actually a subtle nod to two of the restaurant's main goals: to fill a much-needed Thai food gap on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and to creatively reimagine Thailand's most iconic street foods. The chefs accomplish that by using unique, varied ingredients in otherwise familiar Thai dishes. Not everything is a departure from authenticity, though. The pad thai here has real tamarind juice in the sauce, and Kulviwat says that the tender pork chops—his own favorite dish—taste like home thanks to fragrant lemongrass.
Although the menu is rooted in flavors and recipes from half a world away, the décor aims for something a bit closer to home. Ivy-lined trellises, intentionally distressed walls with brickwork showing through plaster,and lush greenery create a relaxing space that feels like a park or garden. Kulviwat says the goal is to create a spirit-lifting environment where it feels like "summertime all year round." Along that vibe, an eclectic cluster of lanterns resembles a nighttime constellation in one corner of the dining area, which sets the mood before the bar's inspired cocktails come out. Among those is First Kiss, which balances the sweetness of pear vodka and a sugar-coated rim with a refreshing dose of mint and basil leaves.
Exquisite ingredients, bold flavors, and decadent taste are the attributes of a SPICED experience. Here at SPICED our chefs create timeless masterpieces using their skills of traditional Cantonese, Hakka, and Szechwan style cooking with a blend of Indian herbs and spices.