Park Slope is turning into a veritable Little Bangkok. On Seventh Avenue, between Eighth and 15th streets, there are four Thai restaurants. This reporter likes pad Thai as much as the next guy, but is there really room for all of these eateries?
Park Sloper Lauren Faria doesn’t think so.
“There are so many Thai restaurants,” she said. “Where’s the Cuban? Ethiopian?”
For a neighborhood that boasts a variety of cuisine — from Latin to Middle Eastern — this one stretch has a startling number of restaurants that, at a glance, don’t seem at all dissimilar. We decided to get a closer look and find out what each spot has to offer.
Restaurateur Pat Radsomarng opened Beet Thai Restaurant two years ago, after finding success with his other Park Slope Thai restaurant, Mango, which is further north on Seventh Avenue. Beet distinguishes itself from the pack with its new menu of Thai-Western fusion; the experimental, specialty menu — “Pat reads a lot of books at home, but he didn’t have time for [culinary] school,” his sister Kate said — includes a Thai crepe stuffed with ground peanuts, sweet radish, scallion and sun-dried tomato sauce ($6); tortilla-crusted tilapia with three caviars and avocado ($15); and blackened ahi with colossal shrimp-mango salsa ($16).
Beet also serves more traditional Thai dishes including noodles and curries, although some have an unexpected English or French twist like the Thai wok (choose chicken, beef, shrimp, crispy duck, squid, snapper, salmon or red snapper filet) with cognac-Worcestershire sauce.
Beet’s sleek, ultra-modern decor, complete with a beet-hued neon light, draws patrons in for more than just the food — and the full bar doesn’t hurt.
Beet Thai Restaurant (344 Seventh Ave. at 10th Street in Park Slope) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. For information, call (718) 832-2338 or visit www.beetthai.com.
Rice Thai Kitchen opened seven years ago, making it one of the oldest on the Seventh Avenue strip, and appropriately, it has the most traditional decor of the bunch. There’s a large stone statue of a slender Buddha in the entranceway and a wall of various woodcarvings, including one of the current king and queen of Thailand.
Lunch specials — which come with rice, soup, salad and a spring roll — are $7 and are served in sectioned enamel plates to a crowd of mostly non-Thai folk.
“They seem to know what they’re doing more than some of the newer places,” said one Park Sloper who declined to be named. “They’ve been around a while, so it makes sense.”
Rice Thai Kitchen [311 Seventh Ave. between Eighth and Ninth streets in Park Slope, (718) 832-9512] accepts MasterCard and Visa. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Thai Tony’s is the strip’s newest arrival, having opened just this past month in the space formerly occupied by — guess what? — a Thai restaurant called Nick. With only two stools, this tiny takeout joint, although clean and modern in design, isn’t exactly a dining destination.
Thankfully, they do deliver, for free.
Disappointingly, the “ginger chicken” we tried was bland and devoid of color. It came with run-of-the-mill vegetables (apart from the fresh ginger), and rice that lacked the fluffiness and stickiness one might expect. Thankfully, we had a glass of the tasty Thai iced tea to wash it down.
“I love the ginger tea,” said one Park Slope customer who was in and out with her takeout order before we could catch her name.
Thai Tony’s (447 Seventh Ave. at 15th Street in Park Slope) accepts cash only. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. For information, call (718) 788-3610 or visit www.thaitonys.com.
An offshoot of Rice Thai Kitchen, Watana opened two years ago — just five blocks away from its older sister. Manager Chintana “Jenny” Sunthavarak said Watana stands out from the crowd because it serves “real” Thai food.
“It’s more spicy, not like Thai food for Americans, which is more sweet,” she said. We tried the red curry with shrimp ($7 lunch special) and found it actually a bit bland and undeniably sweet, with chunks of pineapples to boot.
The restaurant’s interior is invitingly warm and homey, and there’s an indoor patio to sit down and enjoy the sun that enters through the skylight and falls onto lush greenery and a stone wall carving of elephants.