March 28, 2005 | Ask Gael
Tell me a Thai place that's worth the trip

    If you’re not immutably fixated on the authentic, join me trundling down to the East Village for the savvy Indonesian refinements of Taweewat Hurapan's Ma*ya Hurapan Kitchen. Warm up at the bamboo sake bar, then settle at a table in the stylish cellar below. (Hurapan’s partner, Thida Thongthai, is the architect.) Early in the Upper West Side era of Rain, I fell for the Bangkok-born chef’s colorful tapestry of Southeast Asian flavors - ginger and coconut, cilantro and mint, the sweet tang of tamarind and the old-tennis-shoe musk of nam pla. It was - and still is - a delicious shock when the usual Styrofoam shrimp chips (scoops for a complex and fragrant dipping sauce) arrive still warm. Spring rolls are a model of immaculate frying, and the Chinese plum dip is just one in a chorus line of sauces with remarkable personality. Luscious tamarind-glazed ribs have us demanding an encore. Too bad Thai-barbecued chicken is only half-good (the usual overcooked-breast syndrome). Why one slightly pink pork chop is luscious and the other so tough is a mystery.

        Deep-fried-whole-fish fans will find this one draped with fabulous long beans and basil in a sauce that has just enough pepper heat. Serious carnivores, put off by zealous slicing, will be surprised that properly rare skirt steak can be a triumph of sweet-crustiness anyway.

234 East 4th Street near Avenue B 646 313 1987

CLOSED Sept. '07


Patina Restaurant Group