After leaving LA and leaving the holy trinity of Thai Food (Banana Bay/Coconut Bay/The Boat), I haven’t been able to find a comparable Thai restaurant in New York City. Maybe it’s because of all those late after-drinking Banana Bay runs, or those “let’s watch the Lakers game” kind of nights at Coconut Bay; maybe it’s those fantastic memories and moments that give the restaurants a significant edge in my book. Perhaps the food isn’t all that stupendous, and it’s just our drunken ecstatic recollection that add the finishing spices to the food.
Regardless, I put the theory to the test and decided to sample some authentic Thai food in NY (not those westernized spots like Spice). My friend took me to a restaurant up in Hell’s Kitchen called Wondee Siam II. We were quickly sat at a small corner table given menus; however, I knew exactly what I wanted even before I glanced at the menu. Pad See Ew.
If you know me well enough, you know that I’m always changing my mind about what to order; it’s usually a last second decision. It was not different this time at Wondee Siam. Right when I was ordering, I heard a lady tell the chef/owner that “the duck was by far the best today.” Hearing this only made me quickly open up the menu and find a duck dish. “Duck Curry” I quickly blurt out.Thai Tea – a staple beverage of any Thai restaurant. The flavor profile was perfect, however the texture was a little irregular. The tea was extremely thick, almost crossing into the milkshake/eggnog territory. When I order Thai Tea I expect a smooth and refreshing beverage, not something that blesses me with food coma. However, once the ice started to melt and started to balance out the thickness, it became one of the best I’ve had. Did they do this on purpose? I’m guessing not; but if they did, Kudos to you Wondee Siam.
Pad Si Ew with Chicken – almost an exact Banana Bay replica!! (Visually) When I saw it, I was overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia. I pierced my fork into a familiar feeling, making sure I had a piece of everything and took a heaping bite. It’s the same! It’s the same! It’s NOT the same! My tastes buds had deceived me, those little suckers! Visually, texturally, everything was the same; however it was a sharp aftertaste that overran the sensation. I’m not sure whether they just finished cooking some fish, shrimp, or something that had a heavy seafood taste and just decided to cook my dish in the same pan without washing it, or used fish paste or what. But there was a lingering taste on my palette that I do not associate with Chicken Pad See Ew. Another Thai restaurant, another failure – but Wondee Siam II is one of the best I’ve had in the city by far.
The Duck Curry was accompanied by a cone of rice. Literally, a cone of rice – pretty cool. The curry had great flavor, not too spicy and had a very silky texture. One gripe that I might have would be that there was way too many bamboo shoots that basically comprised the whole entire body of the dish. The duck itself was also overcooked and a bit dry. I might just opt for the cheaper Chicken Curry next time.
I guess the simplest way to put it is that Wondee Siam is no where close to the Holy Thai Trinity.
Wondee Siam II Scores:
Restaurant Environment: 5/10