He knows his meats, utilizing enhancing and enriching marinades. Top of the list are the cubes of saucy “Shaking Beef” toppling over leafy watercress, creamy avocado, and bright cherry tomatoes. Sprinkled with crushed peanuts (as almost every dish here is), the textures are outstanding. (I had this dish on separate visits and it was consistently delicious.) So too is the red-braised pork belly stuffed in a puffy steamed bun, the rich flavors of lemongrass, ginger, clove, cinnamon, and orange marinade radiating with each tender bite. This could be ordered a million times over. With a welcomed detour to India, the large, melt-in-your-mouth lamb mussamam curry bowl served with a chunk of succulent sweet potato was a comforting warm brilliance on the tongue.
|Lamb Mussamam Curry|
The seafood is not a strong suit - yet. There is plenty of time to improve the tiny scallops tossed over spicy glass noodles, and the beer-steamed prawns devoid of punch - both proved the provided slick chopsticks to be useless. The beer-battered Baramundi fried fish chunks disjointedly rested upon sauce-less cold noodles. Also a futile attempt with chopsticks, perhaps grilling the fish to provide levity and serving all components at the same temperature would achieve harmony.
|Scallops with Spicy Glass Noodles|
The fresh papaya salad is not to be missed, its mountainous shreds peppered with crispy shallots, crushed peanuts and juicy tomatoes. Nor is the “Lollipop” shrimp, minced and packed into an oblong patty that is grilled and perched on a luscious lemongrass sugarcane stick. Served with lettuce wraps and fresh whole leaves of basil and mint (another thoughtful motif found in other dishes like the spring rolls and the “Bang Xeo” shrimp and crab crepe), these lollies are all too easy to pop.
|"Bang Xeo" Shrimp Crepe|
|Thai Tea Cupcake|
The Asian thread weaves through the desserts as well, with tannic Thai tea cupcakes donning sweet cream cheese frosting, and the best-balanced bowl of savory tapioca-pearled pudding coddling slightly sweet diced mango and pineapple. These go down as easily as the cocktails, like the Kaffir Lime Gimlet and the Cucumber Margherita with chile-infused agave.
|Tom Yum Shrimp Wonton Soup|
|Baby Bok Choy|
The Sunburnt Calf BK
611 Vanderbilt Ave (moolifegroup.com, 347-915-1000)
Photos by Rebecca Kritzer
*Article originally written by Rebecca Kritzer for CityPath.com