Best Thai in the city?

Hey all, looking for the best Thai in NYC. Willing to go just about anywhere and will report back…

So far I’ve tried Larb Ubol, Somtum Der, and Zabb Elee (the East Village location.) If pressed, I think I’d say Somtum der is my favorite.

What are the spots in Queens that I need to hit up?

Also, is Uncle Boon’s any good?

Uncle Boon’s would be my pick in Manahttan.

Maybe Ngam, if I’m dining with someone who’s more hipster than hip.

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Interesting. I’ve liked Larb Ubol better, though the last time I went, I was disappointed that the head of the fish I ordered was too fishy-tasting. Do you remember what you ordered at both places? The Duck Pad Ped is really good at Larb Ubol, as is their Som Tom. At Somtum Der, I really like the chicken soup and the fried chicken.

When the news that Uncle Boons would get a Michelin Star leaked out I immediately reserved a table. Not so much because of the stupid award, but the difficulty in getting a table in the future. I had to cancel three hours before going due to death in the family and now I cant get a table. Never been

I’ve enjoyed Somtum Der, Zabb Elee, been to Larb Ubol many times, but my favorite right now will surprise and disappoint everyone here (all three of you). Pam Real Thai. Her menu is all over the place. The decor and the occasional smell hasnt changed in about 15 years, But everything I’ve had here over the years has been great including the mainstream stuff. I havent had larb there yet (love the duck larb at Labr Ubol), but her crispy pork and my guilty pleasure, Kee Mao with Seafood are better than at Larb. The Oxtail Soup is a religious experience… one of the best dishes in Hell’s Kitchen. She’s not shy with the spice Not nearly as busy as the others and sometimes even fairly empty.

The other place I like is perhaps my most frequented place in NYC, Pure Thai Cookhouse, formerly Pure Thai Shophouse (long story)

I’ve had inconsistent experiences at Pam Real Thai. Sometimes, they’ve refused to give me well-spiced food, even when I asked. But more recently, yes, they’ve been good, and I like oxtail, so I should try their oxtail soup the next time I’m there. I’ve never been to Uncle Boon’s and Pure Thai Cookhouse doesn’t ring a bell.

At both Larb Ubol and Zabb Elee, I ordered the som tum poo plara. The better one was at Larb Ubol. At Larb Ubol, I ordered the duck pad ped, which I definitely enjoyed, though was not wowed with. I’ve had this dish on the streets in Bangkok many times though, so maybe my standards are too high? And the Gang om (Laotian style soup) with chicken that was good, though nothing noteworthy.

At somtum der, I ordered the fried chicken (which having spent seven months in Thailand is amazingly similar to what you find on the streets there. Also ordered the chicken soup which I did like. I was most impressed by the tom saap though Equal parts spicy and tangy, bold flavors, delicious pork, two types of mushrooms, ample lemongrass, etc.

At Zabb Elee, I ordered the tom saap. Much tamer flavors than the one at somtum der. The grilled chicken which was much too sweet to my liking. Almost tasted like the skin was caramelized. And a whole grilled fish that was pretty solid.

Ziggy–are both of these in the Hell’s Kitchen area? If so, I’ll give them a try sooner or later…

@Ziggy, I have never been to Uncle Boons. But your comment about the difficulty of securing a table now that its been awarded a Michelin star got me curious about reservations, so I checked OpenTable. If you are able and willing to eat early, i.e., 5:30 p.m., there are tables for two available this Tuesday and on scattered days through Friday, 11/13.

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Yep! As far as neighborhoods go, Hell’s Kitchen is thee area in Manhattan and perhaps NYC for Thai. For reasons unknown to me

Thanks RGR. I can do early, but only on weekend.

Ah, my favorite topic and a softball for my first post on this site.

In my opinion, Larb Ubol, which you’ve already tried, takes the prize.

In Queens you’re going to want to try the following.

In Elmhust…

  • Chao Thai
  • Ayuda
  • Khao Kang

In Woodside…

  • Zabb Elee
  • Sripraphai

(Zabb is just about where Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Woodside meet, so its neighborhood designation depends on whom you ask.)

Thailand’s Center Point in Woodside is worth a mention; or at least it was some years ago when I stopped in on a whim.

Thanks so much! Are most of these places regional based or just general Thai?

I know Larb Ubol and Zabb Elee are Isaan. What about the others?

You should probably check out Chiang Mai, a small place at 293 Van Brunt street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Its about 5 minutes from Pok Pok, which I find over-rated, & she is churning out very good food at very moderate prices. And, yes, its regional - I guess its obvious from where given the name of the place. I love the Khao Soi.

It’s a good question and I’m not sure of the answer. I do know that Ayuda does some Isaan dishes, namely Isaan-style som tam (with the pickled crab). Hopefully other readers can chime in.

Thanks for this rec. Coincidentally I just moved nearby from Queens, where I was in close proximity to the golden triangle (as it were) of Thai food. I love Khao Soy. I had the Muslim Thai version years ago on “Muslim Street” (if I remember correctly) in Chiang Mai and from then I was hooked.

Yum Kai Hua Pli spicy rotisserie chicken & banana blossom salad and
Grilled pork jowl fantastic

A couple friends invited me to Pure Thai this weekend. Dish recommendations? Thanks!

Enjoyed Pure Thai. Had the Ratchaburi noodles and the ribs. Both were very solid.

Sorry I didnt see this on time but you ordered well. At first I was getting emails on each reply but now its inconstant.

The Ratachburri is very simple but very effective. Since I introduced it to a co-worker, he orders only that each time. If you havent yet, try their lone dessert on the board, coconut sticky rice with pumpkin

Interesting. There’s also Khao Soi right there which I have marked. Now I’m not sure which one to try first. Pok Pok we found pretty good, but with those two in the area dishing out the good stuff, I can see why you’d think its overrated