Rhong-Tiam was a Thai restaurant that had recognition in the NYTimes and even earned a Michelin Star. The recognition from The Tire Man was confusing to some, and rightly so. I actually went to Rhong-Tiam once two years ago. On the menu, they put little chili icons next to dishes to denote spiciness. I picked a noodle dish that had as many chilis as the star dish on the menu, Pork on Fire. Then I proceeded to scare Steph with how much a dude can sweat while attempting to eat dinner. Seriously, the waitress was scared by my face and brought me an iced tea, on the house. That's how crazy it was. But then Rhong-Tiam closed and a new shop, Rhong-Tiam Express opened up farther uptown. They traded their sit-down restaurant by NYU for a more casual take-out place in the Flatiron.
Now Rhong-Tiam express is on 21st street between Broadway and Park. The menu now has a section for Healthy Juice Bar. Because Thai food and smoothies just go together? I'm not sure how it makes sense, but it's there. As for the regular food, you can choose from roti wraps, Rhong-Tiam Signature Dishes (which they tout are from their East Village Flagship Restaurant...), and an assortment of sweets. I opted for the roti, and they set it up so that if you buy two roti wraps, it's cheaper per unit than if you just buy one. For one it's $5.45, and two is supposed to be for $8.45, but I guess the prices had gone up so it's over $9 dollars now for two wraps. I picked Slow Cooked Thai Beef, featuring 'mild curry flavor, egg scramble, cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes. My second roti was the Coconut Lemongrass Chicken, featuring 'bean sprout, carrot, mint leaves, cilantro, cabbage peanut sauce.
The beef wrap had visible chunks of tender beef. I thought it was tasty but as a Thai burrito that cost around $5 dollars, the value proposition left me a bit short. It is more filling than say a duck bun, and the soft, warm roti was more welcoming than any plain bun could strive to be. The filling of the roti was spicy enough to leave a trail of burn on my tongue. It was welcoming, not overwhelming.
Coconut Lemongrass Chicken roti was another story though. It was creamy and delicious. All the ingredients worked together and the peanut sauce was useful to balance the heat from the Thai beef roti. I would pick the lemongrass chicken roti over the beef roti any day of the week. It also makes me want to try some of the other ones on the menu like Crispy Basil Pork and Fire Grilled BBQ Chicken. It'll have to be a day when I'm not looking to get full on $10 dollars though. Seriously, if two blocks north of Rhong-Tiam Express is the location of the Shack Attack, then I would really have to want Thai roti's to justify the choice.
In other news, the Senate passed a version of the food safety bill yesterday, the Times reported. I just want to note that independent thinker's favorite republican, John McCain, voted against the food safety bill. I really can't imagine why one would vote against safer food. All the opposition wants to say is that the free market works, blah, blah. But sometimes the free market doesn't work. Seriously, who still remembers exactly where all the tainted food came from after it's not in the news? I'm not sure how the new legislation is going to keep folks safer, but it's gotta be a step in the right direction. Too bad John McCain doesn't think so!
31 E 21st St.
New York, NY 10010
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