Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: Thai-Nam

Thai-Nam, Midtown NYC

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:

Thai-Nam, Midtown NYC

“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.

 Thai-Nam, Midtown NYC

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


  • A little bit further up but you can try Little Thai Kitchen ( on 53rd between Lex and 3rd.

  • Sorry, my only suggestion is on the west side, slightly too far south for your tastes, and according to Swan “not that good” even though *I* liked it lol.
    A friend of mine who’s Thai told me Pongsri is super authentic.

  • I really don’t understand why 9th ave remains “out of bounds.” You’re doing entries on “Downtown Lunch” for chrissake! There’s so many great midtown lunches on 9th ave, otherwise within the “boundaries.” One more avenue’s walk won’t kill you.

  • Assuming one is careful crossing….

    “……then what? Eighty-fifth Street, Wall Street, Mexico, Eighty-fourth Street.”

  • what about yum yum bankok on 9th ave between 45th and 46th? Pretty good.

  • Yes, there’s Pam Real Thai, which is good, but what about Chili Thai (9th Ave. btwn 48 & 49) with their $5.95-7.95 lunch specials?! The food there is so good!
    Face it, if you want good Thai for lunch you’re going to have to go all the way to 9th Ave for it.
    (And Wondee Siam just opened #3 on 10th Ave.)

  • I had the Pad Kee Mao there and there were many red flags… not spicy at all, PINEAPPLE chunks in it!! The dessert was good though: fried banana spring rolls with vanilla ice cream. Oh also the thai iced thea was yummy. But this place was just not good. It’s a block from me and I still won’t go!

  • You could try Red Curry on Lex between 39 and 40th, but that place pretty much sucks too.

  • Thanks so much to Rasheq for suggesting Little Thai Kitchen. I am a fan of Yum Yum Bangkok on 9th Avenue but I work on the east side now, and this place is every bit as good. Perhaps a little too small to comfortably eat-in, but the service was quick and lovely and the decor was nice too. Most importantly the food is really good. Price is about normal for the area ($8.95 for a lunch special) but the price for sticky rice ($2.95) is a little much for me. Won’t stop me from going though, sadly. Thanks again – saved me the possible disaster of going to Thai-Nam and having it suck.

  • Went to the Little Thai Kitchen today for lunch. It was so good I was sad that I won’t be back in midtown for lunch until monday. Good thing there is one in Greenwich…not far from home! Thanks for the GREAT suggestion. :D :D

  • We had lunch two days ago. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Never again. Not only was the food expensive, the waiters DEMANDED a big tip afterward. Spending $15 for this kind of food is not worth it.

  • We go to Asia Grill for Vietnamese. Well, we don’t GO there as it’s 65th & 2nd (not terribly far from our office, though), but if there’s at least 2 people we can order delivery and it’s about $9 each including tax & tip. Not the best Vietnamese in Manhattan but it sounds much better than the way you’ve described the Thai food here.

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