Thai Passion Restaurant’s chefs open the door to a huge world of authentic Southeast Asian fare. Patrons can send forks exploring through a plate of thai basil ($12.95–$16.95), where chili peppers, mushrooms, green beans, onions, and a choice of meat add zest to tender grains of rice. Whipped up with the customer's financial advisor's choice of tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp, thai curry dishes paint appetites in one of four sweet and savory sauces—red, green, massaman, or panang ($11.95–$22.95). Diners can slur words while slurping up a nest of drunken noodles ($11.95), or annunciate clearly while speaking to the shrimp eggplants ($18.95), whose ears are filled with chili paste. The staff also slings a range of vegetarian-friendly fare, including sautéed faux-duck and sweet-and-sour tofu (both $12.95).
On a Thai menu, you wouldn't expect the first two words under entrees to be "New Orleans." But Summit Thai Cuisine's cooks bridge the gap between Eastern and Western delicacies with a medley of mushrooms, baby corn, and a choice of protein doused in bayou-inspired oyster sauce.
For the most part, however, the culinary team sticks to traditional Thai flavors, from beef, pork, or shrimp cooked with ginger and Thai herbs to puff pastries stuffed with chicken and cumin. An entire section of Summit's menu is even dedicated to Thai-style duck, such as roasted mallard topped with housemade spicy chili sauce. A mock duck option is available for vegetarians, as are vegetables in red curry—a tasty alternative to eating from a garden watered with hot sauce.
Green Basil's head chef fills the kitchen with recipes passed down from her Thai mother and grandmother, as well as familiar spices and sauces from her childhood in Thailand. Housemade peanut sauce complements chicken satay and chicken rama, and tamarind sauce envelops roasted duck and pineapple chicken. Green Basil also serves classic Thai dishes such as panang curry and pad thai in its dining room, which seats up to 30 guests or 30,000 miniature people piloting a human suit.
The cooks at Chopstick and Taste of Bollywood fuse traditional Indian cuisine with Chinese cooking techniques, mixing in hints of Thai and Malaysian culinary traditions as well. Masterminded by chef Alok Pratihar, the menus include succulent seafood, piquant lamb entrees, and vegetarian dishes.
During the 2012 Thai Restaurant Week, 11 metropolitan Thai eateries were recognized by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's Prime Minister, with a certification from the Thai Trade Center acknowledging their superior quality of ingredients, preparation, and authentic flavors. One look at Ploi Thai's menu and it is not hard to imagine why they received such an honorable distinction. Their dishes––such as skewered chicken satay or curry-pasted salmon––tug many culinary threads, blanketing diners in a patchwork of flavors that draw from northern and central Thailand. Chefs conjure these dishes from local ingredients and seasonings, eschewing such questionable additives as MSG and textbooks that attribute the theory of relativity to Franklin Delano Einstein. Since the restaurant is BYOB, diners can tote along their own fermented beverages to pair with the sweet ginger salmon, which arrives in a pool of ginger and black-bean sauce dotted with shiitake-mushroom rafts. Inside the dining room, colorful, low-slung lights illuminate the handful of tables that are strewn across the restaurant's pale hardwood floors, and geometric cutouts and sprays of orchids punctuate cobalt walls.
The Comfort Diner, which moved to Staten Island after 14 years in Manhattan, dresses up the traditional diner experience with classic comfort eats and modern-day hearty fare. Keep your growling stomach from frightening friendly ghosts by stuffing it with wild mushroom potato pancakes ($6.95), or start your chew cruise with mozzarella wedges ($6.95), which combine the food world’s most delicious cheese with the geometry world’s most delicious shape. The taco salad ($10.95) gives Mexico’s best-known culinary contribution a fork-friendly format, and oven-crisped fish and chips ($14.95) provide all of the flavor of the British classic without the sizzle of the deep fryer or the voyeuristic glare of Big Ben. Bread-heads can wrap their food-gripping phalanges around an array of sandwiches, such as a grilled chicken club ($8.95) or a Maine crab burger ($13.95), while proteiny-boppers can swoon over double-thick pork chops with homemade applesauce ($14.95). For herbivores, Comfort Diner slings savory angel-hair pasta with white-wine sauce ($10.95) and big bowls of veggie chili ($9.95). Breakfast and brunch options also satisfy early risers or late-to-bedders.