Intrigued by the over-the-top design (if they put that much money and energy into the front of the house—however ill-conceived—there has to be some love going on in the kitchen, right?), I took my ever-game daughters to the newish Thai Market for an early dinner on Saturday, fingers crossed that their first exposure to this particular branch of Southeast Asian cuisine wouldn't be a disaster.
It was only half a disaster.
The room, wide open to the street on a lovely first evening of Fall, is fun in a cheesy way... as if Epcot had a "Bangkok food stalls" world. The service was totally scattered and unhelpful (granted, we may have caught the staff between shifts); the prices low, with most everything in single digits; the menus made to look like grubby old newspapers.
And the food? I thought we were in real trouble with the starters. Under "Grilled" we tried the Loog Chin Ping, or Thai meatballs, which tasted and were textured like those canned vienna sausages with chili sauce; Pla Meok Ping, which was two skewers worth of, literally, the worst squid we've ever had—gummy, soggy, flavorless, unfinishable; and Moo Ping, satisfyingly juicy bits of pork in a sweet sauce. Also to begin, a forgettable, over-refrigerated Thai Salad; and Salmon Wrap, which sounded good—minced roasted salmon with all kinds of standard Thai spices, like lemongrass, bird's eye chili, and mint—but was so overseasoned that the fish was completely lost.
So after all that my kids had had only a few bites of food. Fortunately, we were saved by the entrees. Co played it safe and ordered the Pad Thai, which she photographed (above... pretty good, no?), then devoured. Bo also went the noodle route with Pad Se-ew, and was rewarded with a tasty plate of wide flat noodles, chicken, egg, none of the promised broccoli, in a sweet soy sauce. It's hard to screw up dishes like these, and they didn't. More impressive was my Gra Prow Kai Dow, a nicely balanced pile of moist minced chicken, chilis and such, and a perfectly cooked deep-fried egg. None of this warranted a return visit, mind you, but at least we didn't leave the place hungry.
Thai Market is located on Amsterdam Avenue between 107th and 108th Streets. We were there very early, on our way to other entertainments, but given the low prices and lively decor, I bet it gets crowded and loud.