Saturday, April 15, 2006

Southeast Asian

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Asia Grill [1239 Second Ave. (at 65th St.) 212-753-9818]
Vietnamese food is the focus here, but there is also solid sushi on offer. Delivery is extremely fast, and I like the lunch specials because they are cheap and tasty. Ga Xao Cai (basically chicken with mixed vegetables) is one of my favorites.

Jasmine [1619 Second Ave. (at 84th St.) 212-517-8854]
Despite its unassuming exterior, this restaurant serves up very good traditional Thai cuisine. All the favorites are here, from Tom Yam Goong to Pahd Thai to my choice, Pahd See You. The chicken in my Pahd See You was particularly tender and overall the food was tasty. I also recommend the Pahd Woosen.

Le Colonial [149 E. 57th St. (bet. Lexington and 3rd Aves.) 212-752-0808]
Fantastic and authentic Vietnamese food is served in a wonderful setting that feels like Saigon (at least I would think so). Every dish I have eaten here has been good. This place is high class, so bring a full wallet.

Monsoon [435 Amsterdam Ave. (at 81st St.) 212-580-8686]
Solid, but not spectacular Vietnamese fare. I went for the Dim Sum, which was pretty tasty. I also liked the decor of the restaurant, particularly the fans, which made you feel like you were in another country, Vietnam.

Nooch [143 Eighth Ave. (at 17th St.) 212-691-8600]
You've gotta go to the bathroom here. No, seriously. But after that, you should probably eat here too and look around. The decor at this Singapore-based noodle bar chain is something else. As for the food, it is very affordable and it is also tasty. Despite being from Singapore, Nooch serves up traditional Thai favorites along with various Japanese noodle and sushi options. I would steer clear of the Edamame to start (not salty enough) and go with the Thai chicken drumsticks instead. This minced chicken on a piece of sugar cane may be greasy, but it gets the job done. For main courses, go with the noodles. I greatly enjoyed my Zaru Soba with Salmon Sashimi, and I feel that I might have equally enjoyed the Pad See Oui (luckily my friend ordered it with my advice). This place certainly stands out in a crowd of Eighth Avenue restaurants.

Penang [1596 Second Ave. (at 83rd St.) 212-585-3838]
This chain of Malaysian restaurants is pretty good and not overly expensive. As with most of the Southeast Asian restaurants, I like the decor, especially the exterior of this location.

Saigon Grill [620 Amsterdam Ave. (at 90th St.) 212-875-9072 and 1700 Second Ave. (at 88th St.) 212-996-4600]
Similar to Asia Grill, these two sister restaurants offer typical and tasty Vietnamese dishes at low prices, especially for lunch. Sushi is also offered, but I would recommend sticking mostly to the Vietnamese.

Sea Thai Bistro [75 Second Ave. (bet. 4th and 5th Sts.) 212-228-5505]
More a social scene than a restaurant, Sea serves up decent Thai food at pretty cheap prices in a dimly lit club-style atmosphere. It was sort of fun hanging out there and drinking with friends, but the service was not particularly good and the food was not good enough to make it a place I would definitely return to. If you know what are you getting into, you might enjoy yourself, but you can find better Thai food in the area.

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