First Thai-mer

Yum Yum Bangkok 650 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036 Btwn. 45th & 46th St. (212) 262-7244 (Photo courtesy of...

Yum Yum Bangkok
650 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

Btwn. 45th & 46th St.
(212) 262-7244

(Photo courtesy of Shanna Ravindra, New York Magazine/

I'm thoroughly ashamed to say that until Sunday night, I was a Thai virgin. Don't knock me for it. Just be glad I finally got into the groove...and loved it.

All thanks go to my friend for dragging me to Yum Yum Bangkok in Hell's Kitchen (there are a few of them on the same street--this one's the least upscale).

I obviously can't say if this is the best Thai place out there because I haven't been around. So, I'm sure there are others just as great if not better. But wait a second and listen to my schpiel about it, will you?

The oceanic slideshows that stream from multiple large-screen TVs, the thinly rectangular, ember-colored ceiling lights, the steely gray overhead tunnel tube (the kind in your basement), and the timeworn exposed brick walls make it intimate and cozy rather than stuffy and pretentious. 

(Photo courtesy of Shanna Ravindra, New York Magazine/

When the staff decides to do a little soundtrack switcheroo, this place will become the perfect first date spot: the song "It Must Have Been Love, but It's Over Now" played twice in a row. It was, however, germane to our conversation about my friend's past relationships.

All that aside, everything else was top-knotch. To start off, I ordered a lychee sangria. It had a pale yellow color and a sweet pear-like flavor with a tangy grapefruit finish from the naturally sweet and tangy lychee fruit. My friend got the Thai iced tea: chilled black tea with a smidgen of sugar and cream. Who knew?

Here's the scoop on the rest of our meal:

Appetizer: Chicken satay skewers with two sauces on the side: a light peanut one and an almost translucent one that had cucumber bits floating on top. Forgive me: I cannot, for the life of me, remember the taste. All I know is that the first was better. It didn't have the gluey consistency like some other poor excuses for dipping sauce. It was just enough to give the tender chicken cubes a gingery peanut glaze. Not too sweet, not too spicy.

My entree: Chicken and broccoli with my flavor of choice. I picked the oyster sauce out of the 14 others on the list (ginger, chili, red curry, green curry, tamarind, and more); I couldn't resist after watching Ming Tsai do a veggie stir fry with the same stuff a few days ago. For the first two bites, the soft chicken morsels had a really pungent, slightly briny taste with sharp burst of raw garlic. But on the second bite, it got much, much better-- incredible umami flavor. Don't ask me how such a quick taste turnaround is possible. I don't know.

His entree: The pad thai: soft rice noodles, ground peanuts, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, and bits of fried egg saturated with a salty, sweet and savory light brown sauce. I tasted it; it lacked the spicy Thai element for which I'd prepared myself, but I didn't mind. 

Our meal, drinks and appetizer included, came to about $30. Not bad, eh?

One Warning: If you go to Yum Yum to celebrate a birthday, be prepared for the uber-creepy rendition of Happy Birthday that pipes through the surround-sound system (imagine a mega-choir of five-year-olds crooning the tune. It's equivalent to a live episode of Barney). 

Your guest of honor will want to duck and hide under the table. I know I would.

Nonetheless, Yum Yum's the Word (you knew I'd say it),


Prices: Not bad. Most expensive menu item costs about $11 $5 for the lychee sangria.

Suitable for all ages. 


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