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SE Asian - Thai or Vietnamese - on the west side

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UWS, Hells Kitchen, West Village, doesn't matter. I never go out for this kind of food, so I don't know good places. My parents are coming to town and I want to take them someplace nice before they go to the theater. I'd rather avoid Theater District restaurants, but it's not out of the question.

Food quality and price are my biggest concerns; it's actually better if the place is not too fancy.

Any recommendations?

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  1. While perhaps not truly "authentic", I look forward to trying Harold Dieterle's Kin Shop, which might be right up your alley (& I may have answered my own "lunchy Sunday brunch while visiting NYC" question I just posted here, in replying to yours). Their menus are online - I found them most intriguing. Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: BrettLove

      Kin Shop is an excellent choice but not upscale (as you requested on your other thread). I just posted some upscale recommendations on your other thread.

      1. re: kathryn

        Thanks, Kathryn! This would've been a concession to all the sons & daughters with Mom, taking up all the space in the "upscale" spots. I don't want to corrupt this thread, but would you expect Kin Shop to be mobbed like "all the other" Mother's Day brunch places? I wouldn't mind having a backup plan, should my original choice be a hellshow.

        1. re: BrettLove

          I am not sure how many people think Thai food on Mother's Day (we usually eat Asian on that day as well).

    2. Vietnamese isn't really Manhattan's strong point, I'd avoid it.

      For Thai, I second Kin Shop as nicer than a hole in the wall, but not too fancy. Many of the other Thai options may not be nice enough for you.

      1. Omai for Vietnamese.
        http://omainyc.com/

        1. I'm too new to the neighborhood to offer any specific recommendations, but there are literally about nine Thai restaurants along 9th Avenue between 53rd and 42nd or so. You could just walk along, exploring the neighborhood, until you find one that looks interesting.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Garlic Guy

            Except that they all kinda' look the same, and even appear to have similarly "generic" Thai menus (i.e. Pad Thai OR "choose your protein; chicken, duck, seafood mix"... "choose your sauce; spicy basil, sweet mango, pik-pow"...). There are some threads here discussing different Thai options in town, but I THINK (don't jump all over me if that ONE little über-authentic place is stuck in the mix there) that strip is regarded as a "not so authentic/good" group of Thai places... Anyone? I too would be eager to hear of some little shack over there "dishin' out the realness".

            1. re: BrettLove

              I think Wondee Siam, Pam's Real Thai, and Pure Thai Shophouse are usually mentioned as the best options in that neighborhood.

              Best Thai in Theater District?
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844991

              Note that you need to ask for the "secret Thai' menu at Wondee/specify that you want Thai-style cooking.
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/0...

              None of these seem particularly "take the parents out for a nice lunch" in terms of atmosphere.

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks for recommending Pure Thai Shophouse. Have been to Wondee and Pam plenty, but feel like they are inconsistent recently and was looking for something new. Ordered from Pure last night and it was delicious. Told them authentic thai style and spicy. Flavor was great, but honestly a bit too spicy - but prefer that to asking for spicy and getting bland food (white guy). Has anyone had look ordering authentic thai style and medium spice? I feel like when they Americanize the food, they also lose so much flavor, not just spice

          2. I would say Kin Shop is pretty upscale compared to any other Thai/Vietnamese I can think of on the West side. It also takes reservations so you could avoid a hellshow wait.

            Cafe Asean or Wong are other ideas (one is not upscale, one is very upscale).

            There's also an Indonesian place 9th and 46th, which I recall being kind of cute.

            5 Replies
            1. re: chowbie

              Wong is not that upscale. They have communal tables, no white tablecloths (iirc), the chairs are reclaimed (no cushioning), and it gets rather loud. More upscale than other Asian restaurants but not by that much.

              I find Kin Shop to be more comfortable because it's not as loud and the tables are better spaced out,

              1. re: chowbie

                Bali Nusa Indah. I was very unimpressed with it and found its food tasteless (tawar, to use the Indonesian food). I stopped going when I had unaccountably rude service, which is really strange in an Indonesian restaurant. That was years ago, so conceivably, it's quietly improved since then. I couldn't say but if it has, this is the first I've heard of it.

                1. re: Pan

                  Ugh, that's too bad. I've always wondered about it...

                2. re: chowbie

                  I love the food at Wong, but it is definitely not a Mother's Day place. It is very noisy and a bit chaotic. Of course, I guess it depends on your mother. I agree that unfortunately there isn't much good Vietnamese. What about La Colonial? Not westside, I know, but 57th and Lex. Easy trip to the theater. A bit more typically upscale.

                  1. re: JC2

                    I had a good meal at Wong the other night. I strongly recommend Rouge et Blanc for upscale Vietnamese Food ( West Village/SoHo border) MacDougal and King St.)
                    In Tribeca ( which is on the West Side) Viet Cafe is good for Vietnamese.

                3. Wondee Thai is in the 50's and is wonderful!! There is one that is tiny and doesn't take credit cards and one a block away that does take credit cards. Make a reaervation to be on the safe side. The Pad Thai is great as well as a "Special Squid" dish that I get that I have not seen any place else.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nycsteve

                    Wondee's pad Thai is just OK. The only things I've had there that were really good-to-excellent were on the "Secret Thai" menu or that one time we were given an off-menu special of pork with fresh turmeric because our waiter (a manager?) knew we'd like it and he had just been to Jackson Heights to buy the turmeric.

                    But hold on - they take reservations? I would have thought they were too small for that.