Friday, July 22, 2011

Zabb Elee 07-16-2011

Location: 72 2nd Ave.
Time: 12:30pm
People: RB, CK and myself

Feelings: It has been two years since we moved to Brooklyn from Astoria. Sure, the restaurant scene is impressive in BoCoCa, and Barney's Co-Op and TJ's are here, but when it comes to Asian food, there is no question that Queens is far superior. We especially miss our favorite Thai restaurant, Poodam. (now closed)

It turns out the former Poodam's chef now can be found at Zabb Elee's new Manhattan location in East Village. Zabb Elee in Elmhurst has been offering traditional Isan Thai to the local Thai families and foodies. Opening of their new Manhattan location means we no longer have to take the 7 train to Sripraphai in Woodside or Ayada in Elmhurst and make an event out of it.

Just like the authentic Thai joints in Queens, you will not see Pad Thai or Curry here. Also, vegans and vegetarians alike might have a difficult time since most of the items on the menu include seafood or meat, and of course, heavy fish sauce. They certainly have a vast selection of salad dishes and interesting dish such as sauteed morning glory, however.

The space is small, and with their recent write up on New York Magazine Cheap Eat list, you may wait a while for a seat for dinner. If you want to try this place without the wait, try the weekend brunch time. The restaurant was nearly empty when we got there. The service was friendly and attentive, and I even heard the waitstaff explaining almost the entire menu to a group of Thai food novices.

My Yen Ta Fo ($7.5, sour and spicy noodle soup, fish ball, squid, fried tofu) was not spicy but overpoweringly fishy. It was tangy and slightly sweet, but this dish is for either Thai natives or those of you who cannot get enough of fish sauce. I realized after eating that they really tone down the fishiness at Ayada and Pure Thai.

RB's Ped Peola with Pandanus Boiled Rice ($8, duck stew) was quite tasty. He enjoyed the nice and simply prepared duck without much added flavor but with good texture and tenderness. He also enjoyed his Pandanus Boiled Rice, which was much like plain congee.

It is welcoming to see the real, authentic Thai cuisine finally arriving on the island of Manhattan. American food is all about the fusion cooking, many times with overpowering flavors of grease, sweet and salty. But Manhattan is officially ready for umami and major fish sauce. I hope more restaurants will stop catering towards the stereotypical American flavors and actually serve their authentic dishes. After all, we are not just regular Americans-- we are urbane New Yorkers always onto the new flavor, aren't we?

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