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Jun 30, 2009 05:28 PM

Best Thai in the East Village

Right now, we like Kurve (which is basically Rhong-Tiam's East Village location) for Thai.

Have tried:
- Klong
- SEA Thai
- Spice
- Montien
- Zabb City

Anyways, I'm convinced that more often than not, most of the Thai is quite mediocre. Is there any place that we should go back to or trying a new place? What's the closest in quality to Sripraphai?

Any thoughts?

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  1. Haven't been to Spripraphai, so I can't compare; however, I've always enjoyed my meals at Tai Thai.

      1. re: notsochubbychubette

        I strongly second Holy Basil. Fantastic food and quality service. Any botches during my visits were remedied professionally. Decor is fun too.

        Zabb City is forgettable, but they may have the best Tom Ka Gai (and the worst Tom Yum Koong). A good bet if you want to be in and out in 20 minutes, but not as good as Thai on Two...

        Thai on Two is a personal favorite of mine. However, it has an inconsistent menu - ex., the Drunken Noodles are always delightful, but the Pad See Ew leaves something to be desired. Service here is always great, but that might be because I stop in regularly.

        Holy Basil is king of curry for the East Village. Go, enjoy yourself. Sit in the 'sun room' (it's got dark wood, but it's over the street) if you can.

        1. re: notsochubbychubette

          Just ate at Holy Basil for the first time, and decided that if I want Thai food, I should just go to Sripraphai. Portions were small, flavors were probably balanced better than the average run-of-the-mill Thai place, but still disappointing when you're more used to Sripraphai.

          We had a mango salad with chicken (pretty good), green papaya salad (decent) and I had a dish I loooove at Sripraphai, the pad prik khing. My brother ordered a dish of wide noodles with some kind of meat gravy/stew on top, which, frankly, tasted like bad Chinese food.

          1. re: janethepain

            Holy Basil is just not very good. Best in the neighborhood is Zaab City, hands down.

        2. Tough call. Nothing approaches the best that Queens has to offer, so don't even compare; second, most good places excel with some dishes (or dishes from some regions) and don't in others.

          That said, my go-to is Rhong-Tiam, which I find superior in all ways to Klong, SEA, Montien, Thailand cafe, East Village Thai, Kai kai, etc. I like Zabb City for certain dishes (great larb) and think Holy Basil is ok, but not for takeout.

          If you find anything you like, please let us know - specifically which dishes and why.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jorel

            agreed on rhong tiam...even if its in was clean and hot and spicy...and reasonably priced...i havent been impressed with nyc thai since sripriphai.

            zabb city is great but its northern thai...i go there often as well.

          2. zabb city but as everyone says, just for northern (salads and the like). we recently made a meal of just the som tam with seafood, and the pork larb; we asked for spicy and the waitress asked us which number, on a scale of 1 to 5. Not even sarcastically either! We asked for 5 and we got some serious heat (asking for water, ordered a side of rice, sweat on the brow) but we had to ask for more limes for the larb (the balance was off). I know it's not all about one-dimensional heat (the som tam could probably use another shake or two of fish sauce) but, it was good and will definitely be the manhattan go-to. personally I'm not into curries and stirfries and whatever else anyway so it's perfect. most other tables were getting pad thai, noodles, sweet-and-sour looking stuff.

            next time, will probably go with the "4" spice.

            5 Replies
            1. re: bigjeff

              yeah, Zaab City is pretty much the only Manhattan place where i'll order Isaan dishes...i agree with you that their laab, while still being the best and hottest in Manhattan, is a bit one-note...i should ask for limes too...

              Another thing: i chatted with them a few weeks ago about the sad state of Manhattan somdam and the fact that even their very decent version didn't have any dried shrimp (goong haeng) in it...while they lamented the fact that farang don't usually like them and that they didn't even have any in the kitchen, the chef decided on the spot that she would start buying them and keeping them on-hand for me and anyone else who wanted them...sure enough, they had them the next week and everytime afterwards...but you have to specifically tell them you want the them..."chawp goong haeng krab, yeh yeh krab" ("i like the dried shrimp, please, lots of them, please!"

              1. re: Simon

                haha! great inside tips, thanks. in general, when I ask for spicy, I also ask for more funkiness and flavor (with some hand gestures) but maybe that doesn't quite translate!

                1. re: bigjeff

                  If you really want it hot say "pet mak mak, ging ging krap (or ka if you're female) " (make it really hot, true heart (I'm not kidding).

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    "bep khon-Thai" means "Thai-style", which sort of encompasses the funky/fishy part of the deal along with the heat...or if you are ordering the Isaan stuff like somdam and laab, you could say "bep khon-Isaan", and then they'll maybe know you mean business...also, "priao" means "sour", so "chawp priao" will theoretically get you more lime flavor...

                    and, as saeyedoc says below, adding "jing jing!" ("Really!") many places (though not at Zaab) you really have to belabor the issue...

                    i can't tell you many times i've had a long fun convos with the staff of a Thai place, in Thai, about how i want my dishes "jing jing bep khon-Thai", and then what comes out is the standard mild, sweet Americanized junk...usually in the sad followup convo, they admit they told the chef to make things a little spicy but not too much, as in "make it a little more spicy than usual but it's for a farang so don't go crazy!" (which, in the game of kitchen "telephone", the chef interprets as "it's for a farang, make it less spicy and more sweet", rendering the entire exercise counterproductive...argh...

                    but the adding of "jing jing" a couple times can help...

                    1. re: Simon

                      jing jing definitely helps. One of the best Thai meals I had, when I said that the waiter looked me in the eye and said "are you sure?". That's when I knew it would be good (LOS in Vegas).
                      Unfortunately, it dosn't work in Thailand very well, they still see you as a Farang and de-spice accordingly.