Along the 9th Ave. stretch of Hell’s Kitchen, there are more Thai restaurants than you can count on both hands. For the most part they’re mediocre, catering to the Midtown office-worker craving a reliable delivery of pad thai. For the second time, my plans to eat at Totto were hampered by the long wait. Fortunately, Pure Thai Shophouse happened to be around the corner. This is David and Vanida Bank’s fourth restaurant, intended to evoke the charm of a humble shack in Thailand serving street food. The decor alone was a refreshing escape from the trend of Thai restaurants with excessively lavish furnishings. The rustic wood planks, unevenly painted walls, and plastic stools to squat on created a boldly unpretentious atmosphere. Against the backdrop of softly-playing Thai pop music, Caritas and I perused the menu.
Category Archives: ★★★★★
Elegant Italian dining on a budget may seem counter-intuitive, especially at a place owned by superstar chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria is Batali’s most casual (read: cheapest) restaurant, and is intended to capture the essence of a bustling train station, rather than a highbrow dining establishment. Despite the boycott inspired by Batali’s recent blunder comparing bankers to Hitler and Stalin, Otto was filled with clumsy tourists and lively families during lunch.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Num Pang‘s Cambodian-themed sandwiches. After a long morning in the office, I made the 1-mile journey to try one of their seasonal specials. The Roasted Figs and Bacon sandwich was sold out, so I happily settled on the Oven Roasted Turkey ($8.25). It’s never too early for a taste of Thanksgiving .
Unless you’re a foodie, you can be forgiven for walking down Ludlow without noticing Kuma Inn. It’s a not-so-secret hidden gem tucked away in the second floor of what used to be a tenement house. After a walk up the steep, graffiti-laden staircase, there’s an open kitchen where Chef King Phojanakong makes Filipino food tapas-style. King was raised with Filipino and Thai influences, and was exposed to some of the worlds greatest chefs before starting at Kuma Inn. Lori and I had reservations and were taken to a corner table under a flickering lamp. The entire restaurant was dimly lit, so forgive me for the quality of the images.
If you’re in a hurry and happen to be walking down Bleecker Street, steer clear of Porto Rico Importing Co. The rich smell of millions of coffee beans wafting through the air is enough to distract those of with stuffy noses from colds. Porto Rico is one of the most successful independent coffee-sellers in the city, having a five retail locations across New York. The original Greenwich Village location has remained unchanged since 1907; the creaky wooden floors look like they’ve been peeled off a dusty attic. This charming shop has been in Peter Longo’s family for three generations, with the sole focus of providing quality coffee beans and teas from around the world.
Midtown is already a food wasteland, and you’ll definitely be hard-pressed to satisfy a teriyaki craving on your lunch break if you’re in the area. Paul Krug saw an opportunity to bring to New York a taste of Seattle-style teriyaki by opening up Glaze Teriyaki Grill. It’s quickly become popular, but the wait in line with Midtown office-workers wasn’t so bad. I ordered a Chicken Breast Teriyaki plate ($8.50), and dared myself into asking for their Hottest Teriyaki sauce ($1.00).