Tom & Toon Brings Thai AYCE Buffet to NYC!
We somehow missed the opening of a new Thai restaurant, Tom & Toon (241 51st St. between 7th & 8th), which launched with little fanfare in August of 2010. Our oversight may have been appropriate, given the predictable narrative of the restaurant. There’s an un-extraordinary menu akin to its neighboring Thai brethren in the ‘hood, such as Siam Inn two store fronts down, or the overabundance of Thai joints up and down 9th ave. However, Tom & Toon shouldn’t be easily dismissed, for it is the only Thai restaurant that has an all you can eat lunch buffet in Midtown. At $11.95, it’s a bit over our $10 lunch rule, but we’ve always be willing to stretch the price boundaries to $11 for buffets. So what’s another buck when something as rare as Thai AYCE is involved!?
The buffet runs from 12-2pm, and offers a diverse selection of Thai standards. On my visit, I counted 9 different entrees, as well as readily available steamed white rice and green salad. The selections of pad thai, chicken curry, curried fish with holy basil, chicken wings, sautéed mixed vegetables, spring rolls, etc are kept in covered hotel pans over a low flame, and seemed to be brought out in small batches, ensuring some degree of freshness. I was happy to observe the restaurant workers fastidiously fussing over each buffet item – refreshing emptied pans, checking holding temperatures, and swapping soiled serving utensils with a clean replacement on a constant basis.
As with any AYCE restaurant, it’s important to keep expectations in check, for this is about quantity and not quality. There won’t be any dishes that will wow customers of this buffet, though I couldn’t keep myself away from second helpings of satisfying vermicelli noodles and a fragrant and spicy fish curry. And with the lone exception of considerably gummy spring rolls, everything that I sampled was acceptably hot and fresh. Service was attentive, and polite, and they graciously fielded inquiries about “what to do in New York after seeing Wicked” from the Australian tourists at the table next to me while helpfully handling probing questions from this Midtown Lunch’er.
There are very few Thai restaurants in the Theatre District that cry out for a curtain call. However, given Tom & Toon’s distinction as one of the few (if only) Thai AYCE restaurants in Midtown, we can certainly get behind this opening. They seem to have an ostensible commitment to freshness and quality of their buffet, and the food ain’t bad. Though you may have resolved to shed a few pounds in 2011, and despite the $11.95 price tag, Tom & Toon’s lunch buffet might be worth breaking your New Year’s resolution for.
Tom & Toon, 241 West 51st Street (btw. 7+8th), 212-226-4565