First Look: You Might Have To Break The $10 Barrier At OBAO

Several months after paper went up on the windows in the former space selling “exquisite jewelry”, OBAO opened last week selling a mix of Vietnamese and Thai dishes that they mercifully didn’t fuse together. There’s a steam table with Thai standards and most of the Vietnamese fare is out of the ML price range. The prices are a bit high for a place that looks like a bit more downscale, but if you’re willing to toe the $10 line you’re probably going to be pretty satisfied with your lunch here.

There’s a lunch special that’s restricted to steam table Thai and you can get up to three items for $8.50, $10 or $11 respectively although at the moment they’re doing sort of an opening special where two items are $8.50. I believe this is happening until Nov. 15, but I may have misheard the man who was handing out menus.

Other options include noodle soups, wok items like pad thai, vermicelli and BBQ along with a bunch of appetizers. Unfortunately the meal options are all more than $10 except the noodle soups so once the weather gets mind-numbingly cold you can look forward to some pho or tom yum.

Since most people seemed to be getting the lunch special I did the same, but a co-luncher and their co-worker tried a couple of the BBQ dishes for variety. There are about six dishes over rice to choose from for the lunch special including one that’s vegetarian. The rest are standard Thai curries with either chicken or beef, and basil chicken.

The basil chicken was the clear winner of the two and I was impressed both by the hint of spiciness to the dish and also that they used dark meat chicken which helps a lot when the meats sitting in a steam table. The panang beef was pretty good but the green bean to meat ratio was highly skewed. Also, I wish they would have put some of the rice under each dish instead of making me eat all of the chicken to soak up the curry sauce from the beef.

My co-luncher was nice enough to send along their thoughts on the Vietnamese pork chop ($12) and Bangkok chicken platter ($14). Here’s what they had to say on the pork chop:

The pork chop was OK. Not a ton of meat, and overcooked. The knife in the cutlery baggie wore down to the nubs cutting it. Regardless, the flavors were nice -had green onions and fried garlic on top, over rice, which was fine. An oddish salad on the side.

And here’s the scoop on that expensive poultry:

The bangkok chicken platter was good, but could have used more spice. They forgot the papaya salad (read, kinks) so my friend was bummed out about that.

They both look pretty good, but if I’m going over the $10 mark, you’d better give me my papaya salad!

The restaurant set up is kind of strange and many people seemed confused that you don’t order until you get to the cash register, but that’s how it works. Also, there’s caramelized pork belly on the menu for $9 for all you fatty meat fiends out there. I’m going to refrain from giving OBAO a +/- for now since they just opened, but it’s nice to have a new southeast Asian option in the lower Financial District.

OBAO, 38 Water St. (at Coenties Slip), (212) 361-6311



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