Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pure Thai Shophouse: The Best Thai on 9th Ave 10-29-2010

Location: 766 9th Ave.
Time: 12:30pm
People: JT, SaSha and MarSha, PeeWee, BeBe and myself

Feelings: We have been exploring all the Thai places on 9th Avenue since 2008, hopelessly so. As soon as SaSha told me about the new Thai joint that serves handmade noodles on 9th Avenue, we did not even waste a minute. None of the Thai restaurants we have tried on 9th and 10th Avenues had come close to the quality of the my favorites in Queens. They are usually greasy, sweet and salty, with the types of flavors that cater towards the general American's palate.

The decor of Pure Thai is contemporary rustic which separates itself from the other restaurants in the area that tend to be early 90s chic. Just like the decor, the flavor they serve is very light and sophisticated. Perhaps it is time for the Thai scene to update their flavor profiles--New Yorker's palates are developed and refined. We are not afraid of authentic flavors anymore.

As the authentic Thai restaurants should be, there are not many vegetarian options here. I ordered Krabi Seafood Noodle Soup ($7, shrimp, calamari, tofu, water spinach, bean curd, tomato pork broth) with their handmade noodles. It was pretty much Yen Ta For, which I have been obsessed over since my first bowl at Ayada in Queens. The portion was very small, but every precious little bite tasted of quality ingredients and strong fish flavor. While many Thai restaurants in Midtown hold back on fish flavor, Pure Thai was not afraid to go all the way. If you're not used to the distinctive aroma of fish sauce or fish soup, I would not recommend ordering this dish. I would highly recommend everyone their chewy homemade noodles.

JT's mysterious green Fanta may have been fished from the Gowanus Canal and frightened me for its possible radioactive power. He mentioned that it tasted very similar to a green jelly drink that is popular in Southeast Asia. Is it possible that people have been dumping green Fanta into Gowanus?

SaSha and PeeWee both enjoyed the dumplings, and the wrappers were sticky and not too thick. "They were good, but I would have liked a little kick of spice in the dipping sauce because it was a little too sweet," SaSha said. Her Braised Beef Noodle Soup was bland on its own, but it turned quite delicious accompanied by the spicy sauce. She added, "It was extremely light and delicate for a beef soup."

MarSha had Wok Chili Pepper with Chicken, which was fresh and "did not have any trace of generic oily mess on it," said MarSha. While it tasted healthy, he found it to be a bit bland and lacked personality. After adding some spicy seasonings, this was rectified, however. "The portions are a bit small, an issue exacerbated by the lightness of of the food," he added.

PeeWee's Pad Jae with Tofu was "light yet satisfying with lots of veggies, shitake mushrooms, and big pieces of pan-seared tofu." As SaSha and MarSha did, he needed to add a little hot sauce to ramp up the flavor. After doing so, he thoroughly enjoyed the flavors and freshness of the ingredients.

JT thought his noodles were clean and delicious with a nice bite to them, but he wished he had a massive bowl of the noodles instead of the small portion given.

Overall, we all thought the portions were sensible, and the flavor was very light and delicate. If you enjoy more bold flavors, various spices are available on your table, and you can adjust to the flavor you need. This is not another Thai restaurant on 9th Avenue. This is THE Thai restaurant on 9th Avenue. Pure Thai can compete against authentic Thai joints in Queens while maintaining the reasonable prices and contemporary atmosphere. I still cannot believe this has happened in Midtown. This means only one thing--Our Hell's Kitchen Thai exploration now comes to the end. When I want Thai food, I'll now go to Pure Thai...unless I crave greasy American Thai food, that is.

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