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Aug 19, 2001 09:15 PM

authentic thai?

  • f

anywhere on upper west side for authentic, spicy thai?

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  1. Authentic Thai on the Upper West Side? No. And if anyone says there is, I'll be very surprised.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Come on, lets not be too snootty about this. I remember a couple of places in about the 70s on Broadway that were acceptable. Later, when I have time I will dredge the memory banks. Although I have not been to that 'hood for about a year.

      You might also try a search herein

      1. re: wray

        I'm not being "snooty"; I'm being truthful. I grew up on the Upper West Side, and go there often, as my parents still live there. It is very difficult to find acceptable Chinese food there, let alone "authentic" Thai food. There might not be more than one or two authentic Thai restaurants in the entire island of Manhattan. I'm not sure I know of any; do you? In previous discussions, a number of regulars have sworn that if you want something that is a reasonable simulacrum of authentic Thai food, you have to go to Queens. I haven't made the pilgrimage to Sriphapai, but I'm inclined to agree with the thrust of that opinion.

        1. re: Pan

          Sorry about the "snooty" comment. My intention/reaction was that every Thai place on the UWS should not be completely written off.

          I just deleted a whole ramble on "authentic." But I have eaten at Sriphapai and a half doz. places in Queens, a couple of which have receive some level of chowhound acceptance (as well as killer places in New Orleans and in Wash DC).

          So what if the places on the UWS may not be considered as good. I feel that there are/was (actually I know that the place that was across the street and 1 block downtown from Barnes and Noble changed hands a year or so ago and is not as good as it was a few years ago when Thai students at Columbia U took me there) places where acceptable Thai food could be eaten. Now that all this chatter has reactivated some brain cells, I think the other place was across the street from Symphony Space.


          1. re: wray


            Regretfully, I have to agree with Pan. There is no Thai restaurant that is even acceptable on the UWS. The Thai restaurant on 81st and Broadway is Chandara; the one across from Symphony Space is Lemongrass Grill. I don't think you'll find many partisans of either.

            1. re: Dave Feldman

              At one time, Chandara on Broadway between 82nd and 83rd St was making a real effort. In fact, about six months ago, I mistakenly thought a new and better chef had been hired--I ordered a mouthwateringly, tender (with crisp skin) half a chicken. Next time I ordered--it was awful. Giving them one more chance, I tried again. Still awful. The other dishes were mediocre. The one thing on the menu they still do outstandingly is--surprisingly--the special dumplings. But that's not enough to bring me back.

              I have to agree--our Upper West Side Thai is pretty miserable. Too sugary, too unauthentic, too bland. My Thai friends have cooked for me--so I know what a delicious cuisine this should be. IF anyone DOES find a good one--please let us know. When Thai was first introduced to New York, I was its greatest fan.

              1. re: Lynn

                I've been to Chandara a couple times and found it acceptable, but no more than that. It's definitely the best Thai on the UWS, but that may be like being the "World's Tallest Midget".

                1. re: Peter

                  "The World's Tallest Midget." I love that, Peter! Yes, "acceptable" is the word I was searching for.

                  By the way, just how bad is River, the Vietnamese place on Amsterdam. Almost tried their Pho Ban (?)oxtail soup with beef--then decided to ask Chowhound about it.

                  1. re: Lynn

                    I don't know specifically about the pho at River, but I wasn't terribly impressed by the food that I had there. It's okay, but there are definitely better places to go for Vietnamese.

                    Better alternatives on the UWS include Saigon Grill (87th and B'way) and Monsoon (82nd and Amsterdam); the best Vietnamese places, though, tend to be down in Chinatown.

                    1. re: Joe
                      JOSH Lichtman

                      A Thai person, the other day mentioned a place called something like one dee in hells kitchen. Any feedback.....

                      1. re: JOSH Lichtman

                        I'm sure your friend is referring to Wondee Siam, which is on 9th Ave. between 52nd and 53rd.

                        Not great, by any means, but it is run by charming people and the food is usually tasty.

                        See link below:


                        1. re: Dave Feldman
                          Adam Stephanides

                          I have a couple year-or-two-old posts on Wondee Siam, though not in depth; you can do a search of Chowhound to read them.

                      2. re: Joe

                        Saigon Grill and Monsoon are both westernized and bastardized renditions of Vietnamese food. Hell, the people there don't even speak Vietnamese nor are they Chinese Vietnamese.

                        If you really want an authentic bowl of pho, try Pho Bang on Mott at Grand. This is by far as close to mom as it gets.

                        For other Vietnamese varieties, go to Nha Trang on Baxter (just south of Canal) - extremely delicious spring rolls.

                        1. re: Joe

                          I tried my boyfriend's pho bo at River the other night and it was so good that I had to order my own bowl. It was easily the best thing we ordered (although the rest of the meal, mango chicken and caramel pork, was still quite good). I thought the pho bo was marvelously complex, with the add-in hoisin and minty basil mingling with the broth and tender meat. Then again, I'd never tried pho bo before, so it might not be authentic.

                      3. re: Peter

                        I've never been to Thailand nor have I tried Thai in California but herewith my impressions of Theatre District/hells' Kitchen Thai that I have tried -

                        Pong Sri - predictable and fairly Americanized bu they get you in and out quickly

                        Forget the name of the next place but it's on the north side of 42nd Street just past 8th Avenue. Walked by many times and was finally drawn in by what appeared to be an appealign and very quiet atmosphere. the service was absolutely horrendous and the food was marginal.

                        Siam - it's on 9th Avenue somewhere in the lower 40's on the east side of the street. I'm not Thai expert but it's by far the best of the three.

                        Oddly enough... the best Thai I've ever had (those more knowledgeable than I have attested that it's better than any NYC Thai) has been at Thai Cuisine in Ithaca NY. great atmosphere - really worth stopping in if you're up that way.

                    2. re: Dave Feldman

                      It has been 4 years since I went to them with any regularity. The place you are calling Chandara was something else 5 years ago and much much better than what I experienced there about 1.5 years ago.

                      The other place, Lemongrass you say, I have not been to at all in 4 years, so I guess all kinds of changes may have transpired. By the way, 4 years ago Lemongrass I found to be pretty uneven, but I thought it just might be that I didnt like some dishes that they made very sweet and not sour/tangy or spicy. I generally avoid dishes like paht thai noodles for that reason, usually too sweet. I did have some other dishes there that were tasty. I tried to order what I saw the Thai patrons getting. Generally turned out OK, I could have good meal. Avoided the noodle and Chinese stir fry kind of things, which they served a lot of to "neighborhood folks".

                      I guess my higher regard for Thai on UWS was based mostly on my memories of the place that preceeded Chandara.

                      Actually one of my fond memories of that place is the vegetable broth soup with brocolli, cabbage, carrot, and onion. Probably a chicken broth, but not sure. Doesn't sound Thai, but I have not ever had anthing like it anywhere else. It was so simple and earthy in flavor. A great base to sooth the stomach before the curries that were about to come.

                      1. re: wray

                        Chandara is WAY better than Lemongrass Cafe. Lemongrass is chain-food to suit what some marketer thinks of as American taste. It's gloppy, underseasoned, poorly prepared. Ick. (OTOH, I attended a party catered by them, and a lot of people commented on how good the food, they are hitting their market).

                        Chandara, while by no means outstanding, at least makes some pretence to serve Thai food.

                        Chandara is not particularly memorable, but Lemongrass is memorably bad.

            2. Has anyone been to Pam Thai, around 49th St. lately. I remember previous posts stated it's inconsistency. Any better luck lately. Even though this is the middle west side it's at least a short cab ride from uptown.

              1 Reply
              1. re: iron frank

                I was at Pam Thai about six weeks ago. Most of the stuff was okay (and I will say that nothing was super sweet and gloppy). Papaya salad (ordered "Thai spicy") was in fact quite spicy but the sweet and vinegary flavors were out of balance. A whole fish dish (listed, I believe, as a special) took quite a while to prepare (which the waitress warned me about), but the fish was definitely on the way out-- an odd texture and so fishy smelling that I was almost afraid to eat it. I left most of it on the plate, even though the sauce it came in was quite good (well balanced sour, spicy, sweet-- lots of cilantro and ginger). I sampled everything my dining mates got as well, but nothing really stood out. I might go back if I was in the neighborhood and had a Thai jones, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

                My favorite Manhattan Thai restaurant is Holy Basil (2nd Ave. around 9th). I love the room and the service. It's definitely Americanized Thai food, but it's done well.

              2. as someone who lived in Thailand for awhile I'd say -- take the subway, or a cab -- and get yourself down to Thai Land in China own... it's the best by far

                1. thanks all...looks like i'm outta luck for real thai food in manhattan...since i'm from l.a. and a former food critic, i'm picky picky!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: frances

                    Ahh, but you stipulated UWS, not all of Manhattan. Some posters mentioned places on the island, but most stuck to the question, which was Thai on the UWS. Sure, there's probably not any authentic Thai food to be had in Manhattan, but there are some decent choices. A Thai friend recommended Thai House Cafe as decent, although I haven't been, and Mangez Avec Moi is good.