Kittichai

by Susan on October 9, 2007

[Food:3/5]

In the few steps between the entrance and host’s station at Kittichai, the serene surroundings magically enter your bloodstream and transport you to a faraway place. For many, there is a stigma attached to “hotel dining,” which perhaps played a role in the over-the-top design at Kittichai, which sits on the first floor of 60 Thompson. The experienced business and culinary team behind Kittichai spared no expense on décor and despite some ploys which feel a bit forced (including wait staff dressed in traditional Thai garb) one happily sinks into the peaceful atmosphere. While one can dine under outdoor lamps and watch the bellmen open doors of the town car parade, the main dining room at the back, devoid of any windows, will instantly make you forget you’re in SoHo, let alone a hotel. A huge pond with floating lilies and votive candles is the centerpiece of the main dining room and one cannot deny its beauty or opulence.  

The well-sized pieces of seabass that are tempura battered and fried are a crispy and light starter. There were few signs of oil and the flaky fish emerged from the fryer with all flavor intact. The accompanying chili-tamarind dipping sauce had us all double dipping. The banana blossom and artichoke salad, which looked intriguing on the menu, not only looked beautiful in presentation, but tasted wonderful as well. Blossom leaves are filled with finely cut pieces of artichoke and dressed with cashew nuts and chili jam. It was a hearty and flavorful vegetarian dish.

The green curry for the wok-braised vegetables was one of the better I have had in New York. A good balance of curry and coconut lent just the right amount of flavor to tender vegetables. The duck breast and leg were dry and the skin lacked crispiness. The spice level of the tamarind sauce overpowered the tamarind flavor, making the entire dish a disappointment. The chili-smoked hanger steak, however, was cooked a perfect medium rare and showcased flavors of ginger and lemongrass. Served atop hot and flavorful basil, the dish was a highlight. The pineapple fried rice with Chinese sausage arrived festively, in a whole, hollowed out pineapple. When you secured a bite that included sausage and the yellow, sticky rice, it was an ideal partnership of sweet and salty. However, there wasn’t quite enough sausage in the dish, leaving most bites without any contrast.  

For dessert, the banana spring rolls were, similar to the tempura starter, executed well. Though fried, there were no hints of oil and the burnt honey flavored ice cream cut dish well.

Kittichai is a beautiful restaurant filled with beautiful people. While nothing about the meal was outstanding, there was enough about the experience to bring me back. I’d also seriously recommend a drink in the Thom Bar or on the rooftop (only open during the warm months) before or after your meal. The special cocktail list does not disappoint with inventive and flavorful concoctions. Once you get sucked in, you’ll welcome any reason to stay longer in this Thompson Street oasis.

Kittichai
www.kittichairestaurant.com
60 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-2000

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