New York Thai Restaurants
10 Spots That Go Beyond Pad Thai

Apparently there's no faster way for a westerner to upset the people of Thailand than to tell them how to cook. As The New York Times reported in 2010, chef David Thompson set off a ruckus when he opened a Bangkok branch of his Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, his stated purpose being to revive a Thai food scene he considered stale. Thais scoffed at the suggestion that a non-native could master the intensely spicy dishes that comprise much of traditional Thai cooking. But surveying New York City's Thai food scene, it seems plenty of restaurants have come to trust Americans to handle Thai's full heat.
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East Village: Fusion Thai

Subtle American, Latino, and European influences keep sneaking into the Thai food at Klong. Chefs lay tuna tartare and wasabi atop crispy tortillas, for instance, and garnish pomegranate walnut duck with stir-fried bok choy. The décor proves similarly eclectic: gritty cement walls surround amorphous steel sculptures and Buddha statues.

West Town: Post-Modern Decor

“Dinner here is not so much like a night in Bangkok as a night in Bangkok in a David Lynch movie,” writes The New York Times’ Food critic Frank Bruni. Shoji screens and gauzy marigold drapes divide the dining room into a labyrinthine jumble of enclaves, and orchids float in illuminated glass vases like science experiments.

Elmhurst: Fiery Curries

Ayada Thai is one of the many highly regarded Thai restaurants that have gravitated to the neighborhood of the Buddhist temple Wat Buddha Thai Thavornvanaram. It holds its own there by preparing a dozen fiery curries, which range from rich, coconut milk based broths to sour curries topped with a fried egg.

Hell’s Kitchen: Opulent Setting

You don't have to get a hotel in Bangkok to order green curry soft shell crab or grilled ginger honey pork chops from room service—just order delivery from Room Service. You might be better off just coming in, though, since part of the appeal lies in the grand chandeliers and regal red couches that fill the space.

Park Slope: Live DJ

Song Restaurant was named after the Thai word for ‘two,’ which turns out to be the number of identities it has. By day, families and locals watch chefs sauté pork and shrimp in the open kitchen. But at night, when the live DJ starts spinning, the restaurant's sizable bar attracts a younger, livelier crowd.

Hell’s Kitchen: Ratchaburi Province Delicacies

Co-owners David and Vanida Bank had a head start when they opened Pure Thai Cookhouse. Vanida's family already owned a restaurant in Ratchaburi, Thailand, so she had a large bank of family recipes from which to draw. The result is a menu of stir-fries and soups that rely heavily on homemade egg noodles and don't skimp on the spice.

Bayside: Date Night

With its palm trees, wall murals, and dramatic lighting, BKNY Thai Restaurant exudes a slick, cosmopolitan vibe. Chefs follow suit, serving up fusion dishes such as New York strip steak drizzled with tamarind sauce.

Cobble Hill: Outdoor Patio

At Joya, live DJs and an open kitchen make for a bustling, raucous atmosphere. Fortunately, diners who wish to enjoy their coconut curries in peace can retreat to the secluded outdoor patio.

Elmhurst: "Thai Spicy"

Chao Thai’s narrow storefront gives way to a compact eatery decorated with little beyond a few wall hangings. But those who press past the unassuming facade are rewarded with dishes that don't skimp on the fiery flavors—if they can convince their servers they really do want true "Thai spicy" and not the comparatively mild "American spicy."