Zagat editor Maureen Giannone recently visited two of Downtown Manhattan's hottest new Thai restaurants, Somtum Der and Uncle Boons and filed the following report.
From Indonesian to Laotian, New York has been host to many Asian eatery openings this year. But on the East Side of Lower Manhattan, it's Thai regional cuisine that's leading the pack.
At Somtum Der in the East Village, they are showcasing spicy Isan-style cooking, that's come to the city by way of their sister restaurant in Bangkok.
Supannee Kitmahawong, a partner in the restaurant, explains that the cuisine is from Isan, the Northeast region of Thailand, where the native vegetables, fruit, and spices are inspiring every dish.
As its namesake dish, the papaya salad takes center stage. But since communal dining is encouraged, you can't leave without sharing a wide variety of plates, from their famous fried chicken to the pork cartilage soup. And the coconut rice is a nice note to sweeten up the spicy meal.
And just off the Bowery, Uncle Boons is the latest project from husband-wife team Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, of Per Se fame. Not surprisingly, it's quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite, with consistent long lines leading diners into their retro urban den on
"[This restaurant] is named after my uncle in Thailand," explains Redding. "It's a very casual Thai restaurant focused on rotisserie and grilled items."
The couple explained that it was important for them to highlight grilled food since their aren't ovens in Thailand and everyone cooks outside.
In addition to those plates, don't leave without trying the beef spare rib Massaman curry. It's definitely another of many dishes you'll want to be saving room for.
For more food and restaurant videos, visit youtube.com/zagat.