690 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036 (Neighborhood: Hell's Kitchen)
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual, Dressy Casual | Cuisine - Thai
Wandering a while with my brothers in New York (particularly Hell's Kitchen), we were unsure of where to eat but Room Service caught our eyes. Lesson learned was not to judge a book by its cover but we were hungry and the prices looked fair. In we bounced through the aisles of chic, dimly lit seating and over-the-top grandeur. That should have been the first clue to our night's meal but alas, we were curious as to what a fancy-smancy-looking Thai place would produce. All other Thai places we had been in OC or anywhere in general were typically sparse in decor.
Drinks to start were their Thai iced tea (you MUST at any Thai place!) and a cocktail called "Frost in Bangkok Night Market." The Thai iced tea was just okay; the tall glass tried to deceive us about the quantity but anyone could see just how much ice was in there. Skimpy! As for my cocktail, I had wanted to see what a combination of Asian-centric ingredients in a cocktail would taste like; it had pandan leaves juice, vodka, Malibu, Midori, a drop of coconut milk, and jackfruit (as a garnish). What a silly mistake. Not only was the alcohol uncomfortably strong in taste but the pungent smell of coconut-milky jackfruit overrode any enjoyment. I'm glad my older brother helped out with downing the disaster.
For about $6, we ordered the Assorted Golden Fritters appetizer (crispy chicken and shrimp dumplings, blanketed shrimp, corn spring rolls, and sesame tofu with crushed peanut sweet chili dipping sauce). Deep-fried seems to be the way to go when eating with my brothers but it wasn't the best choice to start our appetite. They weren't bad - just okay. I think the one everyone liked most was the blanketed shrimp but that's a simple enough dish in itself. Anyone making that incorrectly would need a firm talking to.
My little brother's entree was the Tamarind Dish (by menu description: "a hot and zesty tamarind-chili sauce with sweet peppers, broccoli, scallions, and cilantro - meats are battered and deep-fried") with chicken for protein of choice and a side of included rice. Mine was the Bangkok Chicken Pumpkin Curry (Thai herbs and spices blended in roasted chili paste with kaffir lime leaves, simmered in coconut milk served with fresh Thai basil) with a side of included rice. Both came out lukewarm. No wonder it had taken so long to get to our table - it had probably been sitting on the counter for a while. His tasted like soggy orange chicken with no heat or zest and mediocre vegetables while mine, though it had a slight heat, was bland and wimpy.
The only redeeming dish of the night was my older brother's Room Service Pad Thai (sauteed glass vermicelli with shrimp, mixed seafood, mangoes, brown tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, and crushed peanuts, purple coconut milk beet sauce wrapped in an egg white crepe) which was explained on the menu to be their most popular dish and a much more traditional approach to the infamous dish. The glass vermicelli noodles were definitely a different take on what I was used to but worked out very well. Admittedly, it was also presented artfully and with a delightfully tangy flavor but in the end, we could tell that when this restaurant decided to put its money towards decor, it forgot to leave some for the food quality. This dish came out lukewarm too...
Photography by Minerva Thai.