Kiin Thai Eatery

I’m a huge fan of Thai food – both authentic and Americanized. Sometimes I just get a craving for some Pad See Ew, which my boyfriend tells me they do eat in Thailand but it’s not common (source: his aunt is from Thailand). But sometimes, you want to try something that you haven’t eaten before and that’s why we love the new influx of Northern Thai restaurants like Somtum Der. When I heard that the folks behind Somtum Der were taking over the space left by Cafetasia by NYU, I was instantly interested.

We arrived at around 6pm on a weekday night and were seated by the windows. They run Happy Hour every day from 4pm to 7pm. You get 20% off all noodle dishes and ½ off the price of all drinks. It’s a pretty sweet deal since it’s basically buy-one-get-one free cocktail.

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We opted to try their non-alcoholic drinks since I knew we’d be eating some spicy dishes and would need the extra liquid to cool down our tongues! I had the Tropical Sunset ($6, HH price of $3), which features a mixture of mango juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine. It was very tasty – flavorful without being too sweet. The Boyfriend got the Vermillion ($6, HH price of $3), which is a mixture of fresh raspberries, lychee guava juice, lime and ginger ale. Look at how pretty they look!

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We started with the Golden Bag ($8), which features diced potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, water chestnut, corn, green peas, and cream cheese wrapped in rice paper and lightly fried to keep the bag shape. I’m not normally a fan of things that resemble fried wontons but these were so good! The rice paper was only lightly fried so they were a bit crunchy but not hard. The mixture in the bag blended so well together and tasted really good with a sweet chili sauce on the side.

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We opted to split two entrees instead of each ordering our own – this way we would try out more dishes! The first to come were Grandma’s Grilled Pork with Grilled Coconut Sticky Rice ($13). The minced pork patties are caramelized with milk when they’re grilled so they were sweet and salty at the same time. The grilled sticky rice was a bit crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside, which had a great mouth feel. A bite of pork and a bite of rice = best combination!

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We decided to take advantage of the 20% HH deal off noodles and ordered the Pad Thai Shrimp with Egg Crepe ($15, HH price $12). I’ve been told that traditionally, pad thai is served this what in Thailand so this was pretty cool. The rice noodles are sautéed with shrimp, silken tofu, egg, bean sprouts, peanuts and chili peppers. Our waitress said it wasn’t really that spicy but we both thought it was pretty spicy. There were lots of water involved while eating this dish – but we wouldn’t stop because it was so flavorful and delicious.

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We finished our meal with a pot of Jasmine Tea ($5) to share and an order of their Green Tea Panna Cotta ($7), which is served with sweet milk. The dish was super cute and also super delicious. The sweet milk helped cut the bitterness of the matcha in the panna cotta. The panna cotta was textured perfectly – it was smooth without being so fragile that we couldn’t keep it on the spoon.

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Service was attentive – sometimes a bit too attentive with their rush to take away plates. But they did leave us alone with our tea and dessert for almost an hour. We arrived at 6pm and didn’t leave until a little after 8pm and we weren’t rushed at all to leave. Make sure you make a visit to the bathrooms before you go – there are 3 stalls but it’s completely unisex.

Pig & Khao

For a joint birthday dinner, our group of 10 people ended up at Pig & Khao for some Asian Fusion/Filipino food. I’ve had Filipino food before – the legit kind that you only find in the middle of Queens – so my standards are set pretty high. About half of us arrived right on time for our 6pm reservation while the other half was a bit later. They offer Happy Hour drinks until 7pm so we opted to get something to drink while waiting. All cocktails are $8 while glasses of Prosecco and Riesling are $5. They’re pretty generous with their wine pours so I think it’s their best bet.

We opted to order a la carte, despite the fact that their dishes are meant to be eaten family style. We always over-order when we do family style! I had the Banana Leaf Cod ($14.00) with a big bowl of Coconut Rice ($3.00). The cod was cooked perfectly but it was definitely a bit on the spicy side. The flavors were all there and I really liked the coconut cream sauce they put on top of it.

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Three of my friends got the Sizzling Sisig ($14.00), which is pork head cooked with chili and whole egg on a hot plate. I’ve had Sisig before and Pig & Khao’s version was pretty good. It wasn’t as spicy as your traditional sisig, which was nice. But I felt like the flavors were a bit too toned down as a result of trying to appeal to everyone’s tastebuds. It was pretty tasty – but not quite as good as traditional sisig.

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Our food came at different times, which was something our waitress warned us about since we ordered individual plates instead of family style. Everything was very good though. The only complaint I have is that an open kitchen meant our clothes and hair all smelled like Filipino food and barbecue!

Somtum Der

I found Somtum Der on Yelp while looking through the recent openings. Somtum Der features dishes from Northeastern Thailand or Isan. The typical style of food in the Isan area features small-plates or finger foods that are meant to be shared. The East Village location is a branch from their original location in Bangkok and serves up authentic and genuine Thai food. Their menu, which features pictures for every dish, is super colorful – just like their food.

We arrived at 12pm, which is when they open. We were the first ones in the restaurant so we were given our pick of spots. There were a row of tables along the wall, another row of benches in the middle and two bar area seats. The place may look small but there is actually a lot of seating!

Since we were there for lunch, we opted for the lunch special, which comes in two price ranges. The first is $12.00 and features:

– Tum Thai: an original spicy papaya salad

– Sa Poak Kai Tod Der: Der styled deep-fried chicken thigh

– Sticky Rice or Khao Mun, coconut rice

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We opted for the sticky rice, which is a staple of the Isan area. Almost every dish or meal in Isan is accompanied with sticky rice! The papaya salad, while colorful and fresh, was so spicy that neither the Boyfriend nor I could finish it. Hot hot hot! The chicken thigh was one of the best pieces of fried chicken that I have ever had. It was flavorful and crunchy while still staying moist and juicy. We went with sticky rice, which comes in a bamboo steamer. The rice was so good – it was fragrant and chewy.

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The other lunch option is $10.00 and offers up a choice between eight entrees and two soups. Both soups are spicy – I went with the pork cartilage soup and it was so spicy that I couldn’t finish it! The cartilage was very tender and fell off the bone. I went with the Kaho Moo Tod Kratian Prik Thai, or Fried Garlic Pork with Jasmine Rice. It comes with a oozy egg on top of the rice. I popped the egg, let it soak the rice and ate a bite of rice with a piece of grilled pork. It was so good! The flavors meshed so well together and everything was so fresh and flavorful.

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We opted to share a side of Grilled Sticky Rice ($4.00), which is one of their specialties. The sticky rice was very fragrant and there was a sweet, yet salty, taste to them. I really enjoyed them and could literally just eat a whole order of them.

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The service was friendly and prompt. The food came out in single plates so there was never too much clutter on the table – I really liked that simple touch. I didn’t snatch a picture of it but their Thai Iced Teas are very good. It was very creamy and tasted like how a true Thai Iced Tea should taste! I will definitely be back for more fried chicken and sticky rice!

Columbus Circle Holiday Market Pt. 2

Now it’s time for Columbus Circle Holiday Market Part Two! Since my last blog post, I was able to try two more food items from the Holiday Market. I repeated two food stands in this blog post, but they just looked too good to give up. I wanted desperately to try a new food stand but the moment I walked into the food section of the Holiday Market and walked by these food stands, I knew I had to try the rest of their menus.

First up is Mexicue, which serves up the most amazing mac and cheese. But this time I didn’t stop for mac and cheese. This time, I was here for their Tostilocos ($5.00), which is basically a bag of Fritos topped with their signature chili, lime paste and cotija cheese. This might sound a little weird, but let me tell you, it was delicious! Since they serve it inside the Fritos bag, it takes a little bit of Tetris-style maneuvering before you can mix the chili with the Fritos, but it is definitely worth it. The chili gives the Fritos a sweet and spicy flavor. Since the chili is poured in piping hot, the Fritos are a little warm as well. You’ll need a fork or a spoon for this, so make sure you grab one before you leave.

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Next up is Bar Suzette, which is another repeat. Last time I had their Bistro Burger. This time, I decided to try their hand-cut fries ($5.00) and their Park Royale Burger, which features a double patty and unlimited toppings ($10.00). I originally wanted their Bistro Burger with an egg and mushrooms but seeing as how egg + mushroom already cost $3 extra, I figured I might as well go with the Park Royale.

First off, the fries were super crunchy. They top their fries with enough salt and garlic that you do not even need ketchup for it. Each fry is long, slender and crunchy.

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Now onto the burger. This burger was a bit of a challenge to eat. I ordered mine with mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and an organic egg. Add on two patties and my burger was piled so high that I couldn’t even fit the entire burger into my mouth. If you are hungry and in the mood for a delicious burger, you should definitely try Bar Suzette out. Get the egg – you won’t regret it.

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I usually get the wine (non-alcoholic) or apple cider from German Delights whenever I’m at the Holiday Market, but this time I decided to try the Thai Iced Tea ($2.00) from the Thai Kitchen. It was so good! It was definitely on par with some of the best Thai restaurants that I have been to. The color was just right and it was just the perfect amount of sweetness. We actually had three of these during our visit to the Holiday Market.

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And before I leave, I’m gong to drop a plug for Sweater Toys, one of the vendors at the market. Meet Walt, he’s a narwhal made out of soft recycled sweaters. Isn’t he cute?

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Sea Thai

I first heard about Sea Thai when a friend mentioned to me that there was a Thai restaurant in Williamsburg that had a huge water pond in the middle of the restaurant. I dismissed it at the time because the location was a bit far from the train stations in Williamsburg so the travel put me off. However, when the Boyfriend’s parents decided to go because they read good reviews, I was all for it because we’d be traveling by car. We arrived around 5:50 so we took a walk around to see what other restaurants there were in the area. We walked by the Williamsburg branch of Chai Thai, which I have blogged about before. It’s actually right across the street from Sea Thai.

We were very surprised by the size of the restaurant – it was huge! The waiting area was quite cute. There was a bubble chair hanging from the ceiling as well as two swings. Past the waiting area and bar was the water pond. Around the pond are several tables for two. Since we were a larger party, with 7 people, we were seated past the pond. Larger tables for 8 people are in the center with bench chairs. Smaller tables for 4 people are by the walls in darker lighting.

The first thing we did when we sat down was order drinks. We knew the food would be spicy so we all ordered a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea ($4). Sea Thai offers many flavors of Thai Iced Tea – mango, lychee, guava and pineapple. I decided to go with the Guava Thai Iced Tea, which was very sweet. I actually liked the Boyfriend’s Pineapple Thai Iced Tea more so I wound up stealing the last couple of sips from his. I highly recommend their Thai Iced Teas!

We then ordered some appetizers while we looked over the large menu to decide on our entrees. One of their special appetizers of the day was Hoi Jor or Crispy Crab and Prawn rolls that are wrapped in silken tofu ($7). The dish comes with a side of Sriracha mayo and sweet honey sauce for dripping. This was easily my favorite appetizer of the day. The Sriracha mayo was just the right amount of spicy. Combined with the chewy roll bites, it was perfection.

We decided to go with their Appetizer Sampler, which is another special of the day ($12). The Appetizer Sampler features their Pad Thai Spring Roll, Esan Thai Sasage, Curry Triangle, Veggie Dumplings, and Pot Stickers. Out of all the appetizers in the sampler, I thought the Pot Stickers and Pad Thai Spring Roll were the best. The Spring Roll was very crispy and crunchy. The Pot Stickers, made out of chicken and wrapped in their house skin, was very moist and juicy. If you’ve never been to Sea Thai and want to try out their large variety of appetizers, this is the way to go.

We ordered a separate order of their Puffy Duck ($6). Their Puffy Duck uses grounded up roasted duck meat and potatoes and stuffs it into a pastry-like puff. The dish comes with a cucumber-onion salsa for dipping, which gave it the extra kick. There was a very distinct taste of curry in the Duck puffs. I would definitely recommend ordering this dish just to have a try of one of their most recommended appetizers.

Our last appetizer was their Sea Chicken Wings ($5). Despite the fact that the menu says chicken wings, this dish comes with drumsticks as well. The sauce is a tamarind chili sauce but I didn’t find it very spicy at all. If anything, it was more sweet and sour than spicy. These wings had me licking my fingers to get rid of the sticky sauce.

The first entrée to arrive was the Tamarind Whole Fish ($20). This dish features the same tamarind spicy sauce that was used in the chicken wings but it’s poured over a whole red snapper instead. The fish is fried so that it’s nice and crispy and you have to cut it open yourself at the table. The Boyfriend’s father had the job of doing that so we all just picked off the fish until only bone was left. Despite the fact that it used the same sauce as the chicken wings, the fish was a lot spicier. The sauce, especially, gave your taste buds a very hot burn.

Since we were at a Thai restaurant, we definitely had to order a curry dish. We went with the Bangkok Panang Curry with Shrimp ($13). This dish is meant to be a sweet and medium spicy curry. The curry order came with three triangles of jasmine rice, which was perfect since we didn’t want to fill up on rice. I really enjoyed this curry because it was sweet and spicy. There was the very distinct taste of coconut milk, which is always welcome. I think it was my favorite dish of the night because it was spicy but not too spicy.

Next up was the Isan Fried Rice ($12). This dish featured Thai sausage, egg, tomato, and scallion. This was possibly the spiciest dish of the night. Even the Boyfriend and his mother, who both can take their spicy foods, said it burned as they ate it. The spice didn’t go away either. It continued to burn as you ate other foods and drank down cups and cups of water.

Equally as spicy was the Drunk Man’s Noodles ($11). This dish features broad noodles with chicken, shrimp and squid. It is stir-fried with spicy basil chili and egg. The noodles came in a very tiny copper wok-like bowl. However, while the dish looks small, it is very filling. The more we ate, the more noodles seemed to appear. T was never-ending!

We were all so stuffed from dinner but I was in desperate need of some ice cream in order to cool down my tongue. I decided on their Fried Ice Cream. It features Vanilla Ice Cream that is fried and then lit on fire at your table. The waitress poured rum around the ice cream ball and lit it on fire. You have to blow out the fire on your own or else it’ll start to really burn the dough. The inside was cold and the perfect relief to a dinner full of spicy foods.

I will definitely be returning to Sea Thai to sit by the pond. The best part of the entire night was the fact that the waiters and waitresses were Thai. I’ve been to many Thai restaurants where the employees and owners were Chinese or Malaysian. It was a nice touch to have servers that really know about the food.

Lunching by the East River at Smorgasburg

Cookiesandnoodles here, taking a nice break from blogging to introduce a guest blogger, my good friend, Nancy Chen! Check out her food adventure!

The winds were light, the sun was high, and where was I?  Soaking up the delightful spring weather at Smorgasburg, of course!

A popular food flea market nestled right by the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Smorgasburg returned for its second year on Saturday, April 7th with a slew of food vendors, hoping to impress the palettes of native Brooklynites and tourists alike with their creative menus.  This particular Brooklynite was certainly impressed.

As I walked around the market on opening day with a friend, I was determined to take one spin around to see all the vendors before buying anything so I could stay below my $20 cap on spending (read: broke college student). With more than 50+ vendors set up for business, this proved to be a difficult task. From elaborate cemitas (10-layer Mexican sandwiches) to cleverly named sweets (e.g. S’more Bakery’s S’morgasm), the options were incredibly alluring.

Before succumbing to my growling stomach, I did note that this year’s food market had a greater diversity in the cuisines represented by the vendors. You could see everything from Korean kimchi to Indian paranthas, but even better—Asian cuisine was exceptionally prevalent.  Asian fusion hot dogs, classic noodles dishes, and thai tea flavored soymilk were just a few of the specialties being served up.

I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of our city reflected in the choice of vendors this year and think it’s a great path to embark on for future food markets in Brooklyn or the surrounding boroughs. What tells the story of NYC better than the amazing variety of cuisines you can find here? Smorgasburg is a great visit for foodies as well as for those looking to try new things because it offers the variety in cuisines in addition to twists on American staples (e.g. s’mores, donuts, pizza, ribs, etc.).

Now, here’s a look at my meal choice for the afternoon.

I started off with a Thai Tea flavored soymilk from Soy Hound , which was delicious as a chilled drink. My friend bought the Matcha Green Tea, which was actually better than the Thai Tea but that’s just a matter of taste preference.  The owners hand squeeze the soymilk using soybeans, raw sugar, and honey in Queens and it looks like a promising alternative for the lactose intolerant out there.

Then, I bought an $8 Lamb burger from Landhaus, which looked and smelled amazing but after eating it, I wouldn’t say it was the best lamb I’d ever had. It was good, but I’d recommend being more daring with your choice and try some of the more interesting concoctions available.

Dessert was definitely the most satisfying end to my trip, as I opted for the ingeniously named S’morgasm from the S’more Bakery. Best overpriced s’more I’d ever bought at $3. The chocolate oozed out and mixed perfectly with the fluffy marshmallow as I took my first bite. As you can tell, I didn’t even bother to stop and take a clearer picture.

Been to Smorgasburg or other food flea markets before? I’d love to hear about some of the great food you’ve discovered. Feel free to leave a comment below and recommend some new food establishments to explore.

Chai Thai

It was the middle of the week and I had a sudden craving for soup. After a quick Yelp search, I found out that the original Soup Man (the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld was based off of this man and his storefront) was just 5 blocks away from school. So I got the boyfriend, the sister and a friend and we made our way over. When we arrived, we realized that they probably haven’t updated their website in a few years. Their soups were no longer $4.95 for a small cup – more like $7- $8 for a small cup. I can get a bigger cup of soup at Whole Foods for cheaper. So we backtracked to the Thai restaurant we walked by and decided to stop for lunch.

We had actually found a little hidden treasure! Chai Thai Restaurant offers lunch specials from 11:30am to 4:00pm. Their lunch specials include your choice of several entrees and your choice of soup, salad or spring roll for the low price of $6.95. For food in the Hell’s Kitchen area, this is a very good deal!

I decided to go with their soup, since it was pretty cold outside. Their soup has a chicken broth base with tofu chunks and small strands of vernacelli. It was a bit salty but I finished every drop. I really liked the vernacelli because it tasted almost like a mini-noodle soup.

My sister went with their spring rolls. I didn’t try them but she told me they were pretty much your average spring rolls. Crunchy and covered with a sweet and sour sauce.
For my entree, I went with the chicken pad see eew (pad sea eiw on their menu). First thing I liked was the chinese broccoli. They cut their broccoli extremely thin, which I loved. I thought this was a very nice touch since most places slice the broccoli too thick and makes it hard to chew through it. The second thing I liked about this dish was the flat rice noodles. It wasn’t over-seasoned, which is also another problem with a lot of Thai places. It was a bit wetter than what I normally like, but overall very good.
The sister went with their Pad Khing, which is your choice of meat sautéed with mushrooms, onions, scallions and red bell peppers. Her dish came with a side of rice, which was made into a crescent moon shape. How cute! I stole some beef and mushroom from her plate. The beef was very tender and chewy. The mushrooms were delicious! Very flavorful.
The boyfriend and our friend went with the chicken pad thai. Yummy! It was very nicely cooked and a pretty big portion. The only problem that I had with this dish was the fact that this one was a bit too dry. If only the wet from my pad see eew was transfered over to this pad thai!
Overall I was very happy with Chai. I can see myself coming back for their lunch specials. The food came out quick and despite us being there during prime lunch time, it wasn’t overly crowded. There were maybe 2-3 other tables full while we were there. The best part though was when my friend got her pad thai doggy bagged, they folded the brown paper bag in such a cute design!