Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nothing Thai-ny About the Flavors

Miss Menu is finally back. It has been entirely too long since I posted on here, but I'd like to think I have pretty legit excuses. I moved apartments a few weeks ago, have been out of town three times, and have been going through the two busiest weeks at work of the entire year. Excuses aside, Summer is over, and it's time to get back into the swing of things!

So, I moved from Murray Hill to Midtown East/Sutton Place area. While neither neighborhood is known as a culinary treasure, I definitely pride myself in seeking out unique, off-the-beaten-path places. I think I had pretty much exhausted my options in Murray Hill, so along with an awesome, new apartment, I am excited to try a ton of new restaurants in my new hood.

My ex-roommate - and now real friend :) - MB came over to see my new place, and we decided to check out a new restaurant as well. We decided that we were in the mood for Thai, and I remembered passing a really cute Thai restaurant on my walk to work. We stopped to check the menu, and decided it would definitely do the trick.

Thai 51 is a tiny, brightly-colored restaurant that holds about 10 tables. But, with large windows and mirrors, the space doesn't feel too cramped. We were greeted warmly by a server, and after we were seated, she walked us through some of the menu and informed us that any entree order comes with a free Thai tea.

Glancing over the menu, it definitely seemed to have a lot more items than many of the Thai restaurants I've been to. They had all the usual dishes, but featured some pretty interesting ones as well. We decided to start with sharing an order of the steamed Jeeb dumplings - filled with shrimp, chicken, mushroom, carrot, and water chestnuts, and served with a spicy black soy sauce. They were very flavorful and freshly-made, but they seemed a little pricey for the portion size ($7 for 4 dumplings).

For my main dish, I went with my Thai staple of Pad See Ew, which are flat rice noodles sauteed in a sweet soy sauce with Chinese broccoli and egg. I chose to ad chicken - something I am realizing more and more often is a mistake. The chicken in this dish is almost always dry and flavorless...definitely a shame since the flavors in general are so great. Next time, I'm going to stick with the vegetables.
This Pad See Ew had the normal sweet sauce, but some bites had a little kick to them, which was a little unexpected, but in a good way.

Every time we ordered in Thai at my old apartment, MB always got green curry. This time, she decided to change it up and went with the red curry. This red curry had Thai spices that were blended into a chili paste, along with bamboo shoots, basil, and bell peppers, then simmered in coconut milk. She said it had a perfect amount of heat...enough to give it a great flavor, but not so much that your tongue feels completely on fire!

Although it's too far from my office, Thai 51 has a really impressive lunch special. For $10, you have a choice of 1 appetizer and 1 entree, plus a can of soda. Sure, it's more than the cost of picking up a sandwich from the deli in your building, but I'm pretty sure the food AND the atmosphere at Thai 51 will win out every time. And the service was so quick, you could easily make it there and back in your lunch hour.

Also, I should note that Thai 51 is BYOB, but beware...there is a $5 corking fee, but it's not mentioned on any of the posted "BYOB" signs that are all over the restaurant and menu.

I definitely enjoyed my first meal as a Midtown East-er...and am eager to keep trying new places in the area. If you have any great suggestions, please send them my way!

Thai 51
224 East 51st Street
b/t 2nd & 3rd Ave
website
Menu Pages listing