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Zabb Elee is still Zabb Elee.

They say it's Isan for "really delicious", and it still is.

I haven't been there in months, and given the buzz over chef Pooodam's Larb Ubol, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Nothing's changed; we had Som Tum Thai, Yum Kai Dao and Pad Ped Moo Krob. Everything was great, and I'd rank them pretty much dead even with LU.

The salad dishes remain more generously dressed than their counterparts at LU, which I like. I'd give LU an extra point for their PPMK, but ZE ha lost none of its might.

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  1. Good to know. Its been a while for me but with LU so much closer to work I see much more of it in the future

    1. My son (30) and I will have 5 days in New York City first week of November, so we have pretty much one shot each for dinner at the best of the best in several categories: Thai, sushi, Italian, and deli. I already have an Open Table rez at Jungsik for our Wednesday. Lunches, snacks, and cocktails/bar food will be "flex and explore."
      Which Thai restaurant would you consider your "don't miss?" I'd prefer sticking to Manhattan but I'm open to ideas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jilkat25

        I'd post this as it's own separate thread and put in what kinds of items you're looking for. Curries, noodle dishes, salads, etc.

      2. Having been spending my baht as of late at Larb Ubol and especially Somtum Der, I decided to circle back to ZE. Yup, still as good as ever in the somtum and larb department. I much prefer over SSD's offerings of these items.

        My favorites are the somtum tang kai tom- which is basically somtum Lao done with cucumbers. I love the big soupy entree sized portion, the fishy funkiness, the abundance of juicy sweet cherry tomatoes, and the legitimate pounded chile peppers. I've never felt shorted in anyway with this dish.

        I haven't had a larb in the city better than their larb moo Thai- the one with ground pork meat, sprigs of crunchy pork ears, and slices of liver. Perfect balance of meaty and offal tastes and textures. They also used lemongrass in my last visit- which I love.

        I haven't had the larb or somtum at LU yet, but I prefer ZE's over Somtum Der's by a good margin. However I like the later for other dishes that don't overlap with Zabb.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          Those are my favorite dishes as well. Still haven't tried Somtum Der—I just don't know if it can live up to Zabb.

          1. re: loratliff

            the dishes that are good at somtum der are totally different than what's good at zabb elee, which makes it a nice contrast

              1. re: knucklesandwich

                im giong to write it up this weekend

                1. re: Lau

                  Excellent, looking forward to reading!

                2. re: knucklesandwich

                  The fried chicken, grilled pork, gaeng om soup, the two lemongrass dishes- one with sardines and one with leaf fish, are all good at SD. The somtum as appetizers are decent but inconsistent. The larb are all inconsistent. The raw shrimp dish is decent. The Beer Lao is good.

          2. Yea Zabb Elee (at least the Queens version where i'm a regular) is amazing still.

            1. l could easily eat the Pad Ped Moo Krob every day and be perfectly happy. l love nibbling the peppercorns off of the stalks [vines? whatevs].

              1. I've spent a fair amount of time in Laos as well as Thailand. Tried Larb Ubol for the first time this week and was a bit underwhelmed. The food was tasty enough (beef salad and Isaan sausage) but lacked the punch of Zaab Elee in Queens. A party of 4 sat down next to me and the first thing said was "Three of us don't like spicy". WTF? Why are you eating at an Isaan restaurant? Maybe they've dumbed the spices down a bit for the local clientele? Next time I'll make sure to tell them to "cook it like you do at home".

                3 Replies
                1. re: bruce3404

                  One of the nice things about ZE is that you can get really delicious non-spicy dishes there as well: every item l've tried from the Bangkok Specials section has been very good, and very mild.

                  1. re: howdini

                    Agreed. My wife isn't the fire eater that I am, so it's good to be able to go to a place that suits both of our tastes.

                  2. re: bruce3404

                    Went to ZE after a year of not going there. I thought the food was better than ever. Actually it was fantastic. The som tum kortmuar was amazingly good. The different types of sausage are so good. The crispy pork dish terrific.
                    Everything was great , the sour sausage great. Other dishes also were great and better than I remembered it to be.

                  3. Glad it's still "got" it. I live on the West Coast and I'm a big fan of Pok Pok in Portland, but I consider ZE to be of at least equal quality at half the price of Pok Pok NYC. I love what Andy Ricker is doing and am glad to see his adaptations of Thai street food do so well. But ZE has been doing it well for a long time, just without the national fanfare.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bruce3404

                      ZE is good, i think its slightly worse than when it first opened, but largely still the same

                      1. re: bruce3404

                        Not quite apples to apples as Andy is doing Northern Thai, with a few Vietnamese and Isaan dishes thrown in, while ZE is pretty much Isaan, with a few of what they call Bangkok dishes. I like both places....Another good Northern Thai place in PDX is simply called Chiang Mai. Excellent food.