No-frills Thai cuisine can be found in hundreds of restaurants throughout the five boroughs, but to find one in the heart of SoHo is a bit unusual. Enter SoHo Thai, a new restaurant that promises to bring the dishes of Thailand into one of New York’s busiest and chicest neighborhoods. Though the dining room is simple—plain wooden chairs and tables and nearly no decoration on the walls—the thought is the food will transport you across the globe.
In Thailand and in more unforgiving Thai restaurants in the city, papaya salad—usually shredded green papaya, tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts in a spicy, citrusy dressing—is apt to burn your taste buds off. Such isn’t the case with SoHo Thai’s version ($7.45), whose dressing was more vinegar and lime than the balance of flavors one comes to expect from Thai cuisine. Larb gai, made with ground chicken, red onions, scallions, and roasted rice powder with a lime dressing ($9.95), fared better, though was still soured (literally) by too much citrus and vinegar. On the menu, both items have peppers denoting that they are spicy, but there wasn't much fire to put out.
Entrees were stronger—a green curry, chosen with tofu ($10.95)—was flavorful and zippy, though it arrived as more sauce than vegetables and bean curd (it also comes with rice on the side). A dish of flat rice noodles, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, shrimp and basil leaves in a spicy sauce—called pad kea mao ($12.95)—was the only dish with zing. The subtle spice grows on you, so make sure to temper it with an ice-cold Singha beer (the restaurant also has wine and a full bar).
Slow but amicable service leaves something to be desired. Plates aren’t cleared until new plates are about to be set down, which makes for an awkward do-si-do of noodles and curry. Refills come slowly, as well, but are accompanied at least with a smile when they do.
Is SoHo Thai the best Thai restaurant in New York City? Not by any means. But it’s a serviceable and not-so-spicy option if you’ve spent your day shopping in SoHo.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER LINDSAY DENNINGER