Chai Thai Has a Decent $7 Lunch Special


Even though my palate is not well educated on Thai cuisine, I’ve so far come to realize that Thai food sort of falls into the same pattern as Chinese food. On one hand, you have more Americanized Thai specialties like pad thai and pad see ew (aka something you’d get at A+ Thai.) Then you’ll get restaurants that’ll do the less known, regional dishes like khao soi (if you’re craving that, Talent Thai is the way to go.) Obviously pad thai can be very authentic and traditional, but in Midtown we would all probably just settle for a fairly decent tasting dish. When I walked by Chai Thai, on 8th ave and 55th, I was intrigued because it was packed. With a $6.95 lunch special, I decided to try that and a couple of other things on the menu.


The lunch specials at Chai Thai all cost $6.95 and it lasts from 11:30 to 4 PM. You get all the usual suspects like pad thai, curries, noodle soups, and even fried rice. They come with a choice of spring roll or salad. In addition to the lunch special I tried the Tom Kha Gai soup ($4) and I was glad for it. A white colored soup with mushrooms floating on top didn’t really get my imagination rolling, but once I tasted it, it really surprised me. For a coconut broth, it was really well-balanced and not too heavy. Even though the broth was thin, the taste and flavor was not. The chicken chunks in the soup were also good.


Along with the soup, I also got some curry puffs ($5). It’s filled with vegetables with some sort of curry seasoning. Maybe my expectations of Americanized Thai food is very low, but these also surprised me by how good they were. The outer layer was flaky and not oily, while the vegetable filling was good enough for any meat eater. Authentic or not, this was good too.


As for the lunch special itself, I got the kra pow. I’m not sure what kra pow is supposed to be, but this tasted like your average Thai noodle dish with some basil and peppers. Oh and with the lunch special you get a choice of spring roll or salad. The spring roll that came with my dish was really like an afterthought. Too bad they don’t allow for the curry puff to be a choice… guess you can’t win them all. Although my lunch special had the same flavor profile as many Thai dishes I’ve experienced in the past, the one redeeming quality was that the chilies they added was enough to get me to sweat. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to really get me going but this one definitely makes ya feel it. As for portion size, I wish they could have just given a little bit more…

I know the appetizers that were sampled would make this lunch out of the Midtown Lunch price range, but I wanted to give some of the other menu items a shot. For those of you who don’t always get lunch specials, Chai Thai has something for you as well. For those of you who don’t want to walk to 9th Ave, this is a solid choice for Americanized Thai food.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Authentic or not, the food is delicious and solid for Midtown
  • Having a good sweat from lunch is always a plus
  • If I want to go over the ML limit, there are some other good things on the menu

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I want some authentic Thai food and this doesn’t cut it!
  • The portion size here is not big enough for the big eaters of Midtown Lunch
  • I’d rather go the extra avenue and eat at Wondee Siam or Pam Real Thai
  • What? The soup aint included?

Chai, 930 8th Ave (between 55th St & 56th St), (212) 707-8778


  • Yours appears to have been made with chicken, but i believe this is the baseline dish

  • I went there during the winter for lunch and it was pretty good. Got the shrimp pad thai, which is a pretty safe dish. They also have a restaurant in Williamsburg.

    Went for dinner before the Peter Gabriel concert at Radio City a couple of weeks ago and it was even better. Yum Ped Krob (shredded roast duck with green apple, cashew nuts, red onion scallion and lime dressing) was a great appetizer and Choo-Chee Goong (shrimp sauteed with homemade red curry paste and coconut milk) was an excellent main course.

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