Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: Thai-Nam
Oh man. What are we going to do? Has it really come to this? Since Yum Thai closed last year, I have been seriously Thai deprived. Sure, there are options available- but none are really “Midtown Lunch” worthy (i.e. there is no super cheap, order at a counter Thai food in Midtown.) If you want Thai, you’re going to have to eat it at a sit down restaurant, or order it to go and take it back to your office. There are plenty of options to the far west, but not much going on to the East, which is what brought me to Thai-Nam last week; a Thai/Vietnamese combo restaurant on 45th btw. Lex+3rd.
What I got (after ignoring the various red flags) after the jump… It doesn’t have to be said, but good Thai food would be very welcome in this part of Midtown. Good Vietnamese food would be welcome as well. Put the two together, and it becomes infinitely less likely that either of the two cuisines are good. That’s the first red flag of Thai-Nam.
The second came when I considered ordering off the Vietnamese menu. I love bun (the bowl of Vietnamese noodles topped with meat, spring rolls, cilantro, bean sprouts, and nuoc cham.) A perfect lunch, that’s what I’m looking for in a good Vietnamese restaurant. The lunch special bun at Thai-Nam doesn’t come with any kind of meat (or shrimp.) It’s entirely vegetarian, and costs $9.25. Uh… I think I’ll pass. Let’s order off the Thai menu.
Red Flag #3. Soup arrives, and the broth tastes like a Chinese wonton soup broth. This Thai/Vietnamese combo is probably owned by Chinese people. Isn’t New York amazing! Here’s the rest of what we got:
“Pad See Yu” on the left, Penang Curry on the right. In case you are wondering, yes- the one curry they offer on Mondays is a watered down red curry named after a city in Malaysia (the lunch specials change every day.) Both were satisfactory, but nothing I’d go back for.
The pad thai was also fine (although I hate when they put lemon the plate. Is lime that much harder to get?)
It’s official, I have wasted way too much time on this place. Thai-Nam is at best acceptable, and the search continues on. On the west side, this problem is semi-solved by Pongsri (48th btw. Bway+8th), or an out of bounds walk to 9th Avenue, which is home to some of the better Thai restaurants in Manattan (Pam Real Thai & Wondee Siam.) Even Nanking on B’way btw. 50+51st is better than this place.
If you work in the area, and must have Thai, this place is edible- but I think Midtown Lunch’ers can do better. This is getting pretty desperate. If you’ve been to this place, and can recommend a dish, I’m all ears (we only tried three of the Monday dishes, and the lunch specials change ever day.) Or any other ideas for the east side? Please post them in the comments…
Thai-Nam, 137 E 45th St (btw. 3rd+Lex), 212 867-8222