Thai one on at Ngam
Kysha Harris | 1/19/2012, 3:02 p.m.
Mother Nature has finally decided that winter needed to arrive. I pulled out the long johns and my furry hat to brave the weather this past Sunday to enjoy a divine Thai lunch with my budding food crew before returning home to watch the Giants put some holes in the Packers! Go Blue!
Sunday's lunch was the second gathering of the food crew. We are four foodies whose mission is to try new eateries and restaurants with aplomb and no reservations. We try new foods and dishes and always, alway eat family style so we can share and compare taste bud experiences.
Late last year, Jason picked our inaugural location from a reputable food website. It promised modern comfort food from Thailand at a reasonable price. We were in. Raquel and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to the East Village to meet Jason and Dee at Ngam (99 Third Ave., (212) 777-8424, www.ngamnyc.com).
When we arrived, the boys were elbow deep in some briny oysters with a divine, bright, sweet and sour mignonette. Just a couple dozen of those and some beer would set it off, but then came the chiang mai spicy chicken soup ($6)! Perfect on a chilly day when you have the sniffles. It has the right amount of heat, if not just pushing the Scoville scale envelope a tad. There could be a little less salt in it, so you could taste all of the subtle nuances of the broth, but I would certainly have it again.
Our other appetizers were sweet chili-glazed chicken wings, "som tum" papaya salad (both $6) and shiitake mushroom spring rolls ($4). Of the three, the star was the spring roll. A perfectly fried roll filled with thin rice vermicelli, carrots and mushrooms with a fragrant and balanced dipping sauce. Running tally: oysters, soup, spring roll...beer.
If our starters weren't enough, we each ordered a different main dish. Jason had to get the Thai burger with chiang mai (yam) fries ($10) because he was starting to develop burger-withdrawal tremors. It's a disease. Meanwhile, Raquel had the daily lunch box ($8) consisting of pad Thai, Thai corn chowder and chiang mai fries. Dee got adventurous with a Thai pot pie (no longer on the menu) and I got loopy on my drunken noodles with chicken ($10).
Jason thought his burger was seasoned well, but it didn't scream "Thai" to him. Raquel found the corn chowdering in her meal too sweet for her taste, though I thought it was delightful and could sing with some shrimp or other protein in it. My noodles were chockablock full with vegetables and chicken and subtly sweet sauce that only a knowledgable, practiced hand could prepare.
Too full for dessert, post-meal we sat around to take in the new raw space of exposed brick, the open kitchen and decorations of images of the chef and her home country of Thailand. The staff was knowledgeable, attentive and fun.
Chef Hong took a moment to talk with us about Ngam and her wish for its patrons. "My intention is to cook with love and to bring the flavors of my childhood to my guests." The menu changes seasonally and is based on availability, so there is always something new to try.
Once we achieved full digestion and gut-busting laughter, we wrapped it up and headed out the door knowing we would return for more. Thank you, chef Hong and Ngam staff, for a delicious afternoon. See you again soon.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.