You Might Want to Think Twice About Waiting in Line for Tuk-Tuk Boy

Pad Thai Cart

Our fearless leader, Zach Brooks, as well as several profiled Midtown Lunch’ers have publicly expressed how great it would for a Thai cart or food truck to make their presence in Midtown. You see, Thai restaurants are oddly absent from Midtown proper. Sure, 8th and 9th Avenue are practically glutted with Thai restaurants that range from acceptable to awesome, and there’s a handful of serviceable Thai restaurants on the east side, mostly clustered around the lower 50′th streets at 2nd and 3rd avenue – certainly a stretch for the lunch’ers located in central Midtown. Even after 10 minutes of tooling around on Yelp extensive research, I couldn’t locate any Thai restaurants remotely close to Midtown central aside from the laughably bad Thai at Dee Daa and overpriced and underwhelming Thai at Nanking.

This lack of affordable Thai food is why we got so excited when we saw that a new Thai food cart, called Tuk-Tuk Boy, appeared on 50th between 6th & 7th this week.  And clearly we weren’t the only ones.  For the second day in the row the line was 20 people deep for most of lunch yesterday, and we heard that the cart ran out of most items shortly after 1pm.

But you might want to curb that enthusiasm a bit for now…

Pad Thai

For now, the cart serves a very limited menu. Spring rolls for $3, chicken pad thai for $6, red curry with chicken for $6 (already sold out on my visit) and Thai style chicken over rice with salad for $6. I share Zach’s view on the pad thai cognition theory, a Thai restaurant can and should be judged on the quality of their pad thai. This dish of savory noodles, in practice, is both crowd pleasing but also showcases the sophistication of flavors that embodies Thai cuisine – the perfect balance of sour, salt, spice, bitter and the intangible depth of flavors from the addition of peanut oil, fish sauce (nam pla), tamarind paste, cilantro and garlic.

Unfortunately, my order of pad thai did little to inspire confidence, or justify any sort of wait. I found it incredibly dry and in dire need of more of almost every ingredient described above. It was also texturally gummy and monotonous, as they seriously skimped on the scallions and bean sprouts. And the chicken was overcooked to a sad, sandpaper-y demise. On a positive note, I was satisfied with the portion size for my $6.

Granted, these guys are brand new and clearly still in the learning process, and I enjoy writing negative comments as much as I enjoyed that pad thai. I’m anxious to give them another try after they’ve matured a bit and gained more experience with their operations and flavors. But in the meantime, the close proximity to Thai food perhaps may not eclipse the shortcomings in their offerings.

18 Comments

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Awww…I was really excited about going there too…

  • Hi Chris. The flavor balance you speak of, shouldn’t include “bitter”. Thai cuisine consists of finding balance between the 4 S’s:

    1. Spicy
    2. Salty
    3. Sweet
    4. Sour

    I have yet to find a Thai restaurant in Manhattan that has done a commendable job at this.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    They get some bad reviews, but as long as you stay away from the Pad Thai, I think that “New York Thai Grill & Sushi Bar” at 37 W 54th St has some decent options.

    Some of these are on their lunch menu…I enjoy their Penang Curry, Spicy Basil Fried Rice (x-spicy), Gai Pad Prik Bai Krapao, Po Pia Tod. Can’t vouch for anything else.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Pure at 51st and 9th is just a few avenue blocks away from the Tuk Tuk Cart and it’s really really great. Not midtown central, per se, but close enough and worth the walk. They also deliver.

  • Topaz Thai on 56th btw 6th and 7th. Serviceable Thai.

  • I’ve been reasonably happy with what I’ve gotten there, but I’ve been on the very early side so maybe things aren’t ‘ageing’ well later on.

  • Sounds eerily reminiscent of choosing an alluring Thai beauty, only to open the packaging and discover a ladyboy

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    saw the negative reviews, but wanted to try my luck. thai bbq chicken over rice was flavorless. disappointed.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I refuse to believe it. (1) The food came from a cart. (2) You had to wait in a long line. Doesn’t that mean it *has* to be good?

    More seriously, that picture does not look very appetizing at all.

  • That does look dry. Thanks for taking one for the team, Chris! Hoping that they step it up.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The pad thai at “NY Thai Grill & Sushi Bar” is indeed to be avoided, with its off-putting deep orange color, but I’ve enjoyed the curries and Thai stir-fries that I’ve had from there.

    The sushi is reportedly not half bad either.

  • I just tried the Red Curry and the crab and shrimp rolls. The rolls were pretty good but the curry sucked. It was strangely tasteless yet somehow emitted this weird unpleasant smell. Unless this place dramatically improves I won’t be going back.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Does anyone have any comments regarding Rain? I’ve ordered twice from them and it was on the decent side, but both times I ordered the spicy mango fish dish. I believe they are around 52nd and 2nd?

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