Sookk: Thai. 2686 B-Way @ 102-3rd; 22/19/$27; 870-0253; Cozy yet welcoming Thai star in the Upper West; Tasty selections with a Chinese edge to them; BYOB; Very inexpensive so order multiple appetizers. Lunch specials are affordable for anyone; Vegetarian friendly dishes; Huge menu featuring Duck dishes, Currys; Striped Bass; Tilapia; Numerous appetizers & great Pad Thai. Very cool décor. Try the tom yum soup & spring rolls. http://sookkrestaurant.com/
Land: Thai. 450 Amsterdam @ 81-2nd; 23/16/$29; 501-8121; www.landthaikitchen.com; Small but truly wonderful food; Seems more upscale than price; Very spicy food; Pad Thai perfection. Problem is the seating/ size- go early! Vegetable dumplings stand out; Wok basil beef dish; Green curry with chicken; Red snapper; Honestly – just a great place that is ideal for casual dates, pre-gaming, or just a weekday meal. Menu outstanding.
Asiate: Asian. 80 Columbus Circle – Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 35th floor; 24/29/$111; 805-8881; Voted Zagat’s #1 restaurant in NYC for décor; Epic view of Central Park; Pampering service; For a special occasion; Insanely overpriced; Dinner is $95 3-course prix-fixe or a tasting menu for $135- 6 courses; Menu is seasonal and is Asian/ New American. Brunch is 3 courses $64 – way to go. Cocktails at brunch only $9. Burrata; Maine Lobster; Hamachi Sashimi; Bronzino; Long Island Duck. http://www.mandarinoriental.com/newyork/fine-dining/asiate/;
Pure Thai Cookhouse: Thai. 766 9th Ave @ 51st-52nd; 26/15/$28; 581-0999; www.purethaicookhouse.com/; Genuine Thai shophouse style restaurant; Homemade noodles are the secret; They offer small plates (snacks) for under $10, wonderful stir-fried dishes; Amazing noodle dishes including Pad Thai with Shrimp; Also, pure Thai noodle soups such as the seafood soup and duck noodle soup. Décor is okay- small place and stools for seating. Best for lunch.
Buddakan: Asian. 75 9th @ 15-16th; 24/27/$70; 989-6699; www.buddakannyc.com; Incredible interior; Epically popular; Trendy; Sexy; Hot spot for large groups or dates; Amazing food- wide variety; Top shelf appetizers; Perfecto drinks. Truly one of the 5 best date spots in the city as you will be sure to impress; Good looking crowd; Reserve a week in advance at least! Menu allows for easy sharing of multiple entrees. Great location. $15 cocktails, $8 beer, Dim Sum menu including Oxtail Dumplings; Singapore Chili King Crab.
Nyonya: Malaysian. 194 Grand @ Mott-Mulberry; 22/14/$22; 334-3669; www.ilovenyonya.com/; Dirt cheap tabs for a true Malaysian experience; Properly spiced; Great for lunch and to walk around Chinatown or Little Italy afterwards; The most popular dish, in this very popular spot, is the ROTI Canai – flatbread with a curry sauce. Gigantic menu and everything is dirt cheap. Lunch menu as well. Cash only.
Uncle Boons: Thai. 7 Spring @ Bowery; 25/21/$50; 646-370-6650; www.uncleboons.com/; The new Thai hotspot; Vibrant flavors and seriously spicy food; Fun bar scene and quirky setting; Excellent service; Try the Golden Curry. They have a dozen or so small plates you can sample and then a menu of charcoal grilled entrees to die for. The Red Snapper is excellent as are the boneless beef ribs. 1 Michelin star.
Khe-Yo: Laotian. 157 Duane @ WB-Way-Hudson; 23/19/$42; 587-1089; www.kheyo.com/; Iron Chef Marc Forgione joins with other to start this creative place featuring food from Laos; Menu features half a dozen small and large plates each; Try the Chili Prawns, Spare Ribs, Pork Curry Noodles or Wok seared Lobster and Noodles – all of which are amazing and unique. Time to get out & take a chance. With an Iron Chef – low risk.
Kuma Inn: Filipino. 113 Ludlow @ Delancy-Rivington; 24/15/$35; 353-8866; www.kumainn.com; Small but unreal food and very affordable; Foodies heaven; Located on 2nd floor. Small plate format; BYO policy; Essentially Pan-Asian small plates. Strong service and bargain costs; About 25 or so different Tapas style dishes to choose from. Small corkage fee. Friendly chef/ owner. Share a selection of items for dinner!
Pig and Khao: Thai / Filipino. 68 Clinton @ Stanton-Rivington; 25/16/$40; 920-4485; http://pigandkhao.com/; Be adventurous and you’ll be rewarded; Dishes designed for sharing; I’m daring but I shy away from the “pork head”; Try the Red Curry, Shan Noodles, BBQ Ribs, Seafood Sinigang – Cod, clams, shrimp; There is a 5 course tasting menu for $45. Honestly – the food is not Americanized at all and you’ll need an open mind.
Somtum Der: Thai. 85 Av A @ 5th-6th St; 25/17/$36; 260-8570; www.somtumdernewyork.com/; Well spiced dished, some mild, some incredibly hot; Michelin 1 star; Reasonable pricing and unique flavorings; Try the flat noodles with shrimp & calamari; Food focus is northeastern Thailand; Check out the online menu – photos of all dishes beautifully done. You will go running there after you see these dishes. Love the menu.
Klong: Thai. 7 St Marks Pl @ 2nd-3rd Av; 21/17/$29; 505-9955; Extremely affordable street food reminiscent of Bangkok; Cool overall vibe and open very late; Great soups, curries and Pad Thai variations. Try the spicy Basil Noodles – a house specialty; 5-7pm Happy Hour; Pretty cool décor. Fairly crowded and noisy but great food. Very inexpensive; Dine tapas style by ordering several items to share. http://klongthainyc.com/
Jeepney: Filipino. 201 1st Av @ 12th-13th; 23/18/$38; 533-4121; www.jeepneynyc.com/; Try something unique and adventurous; Colorful décor; Traditional menu; Super fancy cocktails; They have a Kamayan Night – a feast eaten off of a communal table; Hard to explain…. Menu here is adventurous for even me; There are a few things I can’t mention – ewe – like Duck embryo. But I hear it is a lot of fun.
Ngam: Thai. 99 3rd Av @ 13th; 27/19/$30; 777-8424; www.ngamnyc.com/; Famous Chef Hong (Iron Chef contestant) offers cooking classes and has a great Thai cookbook; As authentic as it gets; Fairly small space so go early or for lunch; Brunch available as well; Multiple Grilled Calamari dishes; The currys are amazing; Soft Shell Crab in season; Crispy Pad Thai; Drunken Noodles; Lobster Dumplings; “Cutie” Duckling. The dishes are creative and mouthwatering. Really an amazing find. Possibly best Thai in New York. Grilled Surf & Turf for 2 $20; Wow wow wow; Lychee Punch and other amazing cocktails.
Laut: Malaysian / Thai. 15 E 17th @ BWay – 5th Av; 24/14/$28; 206-8989; http://lautnyc.com/; Massive menu – all extremely affordable; Large selection of soups for meals or appetizers; Dumplings galore; Dozen plus wok fried noodle dishes; Multiple curries, 2 dozen or so entrée specials; The focus is on different styles including Singaporean; Casual and low key; Can get cramp so go early or off-hours. Great for large groups.
China Grill: Asian. 60 W 53rd @ 5th-6th Av; 23/21/$62; 333-7788; www.chinagrillmgt.com; More of an Asian fusion, upscale option; Spicy beef and scallion dumplings to die for; Lively scene with a bustling bar for pre-dinner drinks; Happy hour 4-8pm creates a pick-up scene here; Same ownership as Asia de Cuba; Prix fixe options available for lunch & dinner; Excellent menu- but pricy for the genre. Great for a big party.
Ma Peche: Asian Fusion. 15 W 56th @ 5th-6th Av; 24/18/$52; 757-5878; www.momofuku.com; David Chang’s mostly French-Vietnamese fusion eatery; Usual Chang minimalist décor – retro feel (I don’t like it); Spicy, flavorful and unique offerings; Popular in part due to owner who is ‘in’ right now; Balcony bar for a pre-dinner drink; Smallish menu with a prix fixe available. Clever twists on Dim Sum. Unique menu items.
Tao: Pan Asian. 42 E 58th @ Mad-Park; 22/26/$59; 888-2288; www.taorestaurant.com; Just a huge club atmosphere with truly excellent food as well; Very Noisy; Great scene & bar; Beautiful décor & staff; Food is Asian mix; Fancy drinks and a fun experience with mind-blowing décor. Best suited for partying couples out on dates in their 20s. Food though – is actually quite great. For a quieter dinner, go Monday- Wednesday. Sushi as well. Cocktails $16 and endless drinks to choose from. Order lots of small plates/ Dim Sum.
Fatty Fish: Asian Fusion. 406 64th @ 1st-York; 22/16/$44; 813-9338; www.fattyfishnyc.com; Enchanting back patio in otherwise Zen-like setting; Extremely affordable; Very fresh sushi selections; Dim Sum selections, entrée salads; Kobe beef Burger; Exciting cooked entrees and did I mention sushi? The special rolls are large in size and absolutely delicious. The menu is more Japanese focused. Sushi pizza. Lunch or dinner.