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Up Thai Loves You!
From Our Editors
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.