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Charm Thai Rocks the House

  • c

Charm Thai on 95th and Amsterdam has to be one of the best restaurants I've eaten at in quite some time. It's an incredibly good deal for the quality of the food (at least based on the three dishes we tried). The decor's pleasantly kooky, with interesting inverted wok-looking lights, multicolored striped tile, various decorative plates hung on one wall, a random shield-looking thing imbedded in another. It's pleasant and comfortable, not glitzy.

Went tonight (Thursday night) at around 9:30 p.m. and the place was 75% full. We ordered the mixed appetizers for one ($6 or $7), which came with half a spring roll, fried wrapped shrimp, a curry puff, and I think one other thing that I'm forgetting. Everything was simple and delicious, crisp and non-greasy. The curry puff pastry was wonderfully flaky, without the slightest hint of sogginess. And all of the fillings were made with impeccably high quality ingredients. I usually don't like shrimp, but this one was so fresh, juicy and tender that even I enjoyed it. I know the same appetizers are available pretty much everywhere, but this is the best execution I've come across in Manhattan.

I had the tamarind duck for my main and my SO had the ped kee mao. My tamarind duck ($15) was flawless--genuinely *stunning*. The duck was perfectly juicy on the inside, with the outer skin roasted to a lovely crisp, served with strips of fried (but non-greasy) eggplant. All of this was topped with a perfectly balanced (not too sweet, not too sour) tamarind sauce. Ped kee mao ($8) came with a generous amount of fresh, high quality veggies, all highly flavorful, and nice chunks of chicken.

The restaurant hasn't gotten its liquor license, yet, but conveniently, there's a liquor store right across the street, manned by a very nice older gent. I bought a Chateau Ste. Michelle Reisling to go with our meal.

The food isn't blistering hot, but otherwise, the dishes we tried were authentic. I highly recommend it, Chowhounds. Go before it gets "discovered" and the chef/owner starts charging twice as much for the food!

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  1. Thanks for your report! I feel like I should eat in the UWS more, and this is a nice temptation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rose water

      If you do go, I'd love to hear your thoughts! I wonder if everything else on the menu is as good as the duck. It doesn't seem humanly possible.

    2. Thanks for the review ... I got to try this place out now.

      1. I agree! My partner and I went last month right after it opened and were very impressed. I usually have Pad Thai when I first try a new restaurant just to see how they do it. I enjoyed everything else I tried too. I was so excited to have decent Thai in these upper reaches of the UWS - finally! I also love the funky decor.

        On a related note, Thai Market on 107th and Amsterdam just opened a few weeks ago and it's really terrific too! They have some interesting items on their menu (a radish cake appetizer that is genuine Thai street food that I've not seen at other Thai places) and we've been back there many times since it opened.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mjps2

          Thanks for the Thai Market tip. I'll have to give that a whirl. Didn't know radish cake was a Thai thing; I know (and very much LOVE) it as a Chinese dim sum item. Look forward to trying the Thai version!

          1. re: mjps2

            Other than the radish cake, what dishes do you like best at Thai Market? Although I like the vibe, I wasn't very impressed by the food (I wrote about it here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397117).

            1. re: mary shaposhnik

              That's a really helpful review, Mary. (Glad to hear someone else isn't gah gah over Land, either.) Let us know what you think of Charm if you try it.

              1. re: cimui

                I'm glad too - I think Land is just OK. I think I liked it better before Charm and Thai Market opened, but I think it was the drought of decent Thai food that clouded my vision. I wouldn't not go there, but I wouldn't seek it out either.

                Re: Thai Market, I'll post a more thorough review on the thread above.

                Going to go to Charm again this weekend - reading about that duck dish again has my mouth watering to try it.

          2. I initiated a thread about "Charm" last weekend and other people who tried it also really liked it. It is official that we all agree it is very tasty food.
            I also love the decor.
            They also have a very inexpensive lunch special menu!

            :-)

            2 Replies
              1. re: dewdropin

                I was there for lunch twice last week. It's definitely a good deal. Eight dollars buys you an appetizer and entree. The first time, I had the thai steamed chicken dumpling and pad thai. The steamed dumpling was very delicate, permeating with peanut and lemongrass tones. The pad thai was excellent -- probably the best I've had in New York. Slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so. The second time, I ordered the crab dumpling in soup and the rice noodles with chicken, chilli and basil. The soup was very good. The noodles ... they were OK, but could be better. What I look for in those noodles are birds eye chiles and lots of holy basil. They used some other larger chiles and Italian basil. It just didn't have the same kick. And while I usually hate greasy food, they needed more oil to really make the dish sing.

                Overall, a very good deal for lunch. The portions are gigantic. You'll probably have enough to take home. Very promising on the UWS. Wished this existed when I was living in the hood.