Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

Sookk: Better than Sripraphai

Recommended Posts

A couple of years ago my guitar teacher, Jonathan, said he had a great Thai restaurant for me. This is the sort of information I routinely ignore, because the past several dozen Thai restaurants people have recommended to me have been mediocre. Except this one.

A few weeks after he told me about it, I found myself needing a place to meet for lunch in that neighborhood (Manhattan Valley, I guess they call it now) and I remembered Jonathan's recommendation, so I took a friend to Sookk, which is on Broadway between 102nd and 103rd Streets. I went back soon after. After those first two meals, I emailed a friend:

There's a new place on Broadway between 102 and 103 called Sookk. The focus is

Yaowarat Thai cuisine (Yaowarat is apparently a multicultural district of Bangkok). It's not a perfect restaurant but the high notes are category busters. No other Thai place in Manhattan matches the finesse of some of the cooking at Sookk and it's altogether more refined -- aristocratic, even, within its budget -- than Sripraphai.

That was June 16, 2008. Sookk then got lost in the shuffle of meals and memories that slip away because I don't post about them soon enough after they occur.

Fast forward to early this year. My wife and mother-in-law needed a recommendation for lunch after Symphony Space. Something in my unconscious called out Sookk, so they went. They came home raving about the place. "Why have you been keeping this a secret from us?" they challenged.

Since then I've been back five times and I'm here to tell you that Sookk, which was quite good in 2008 when it first opened, has now grown into the best Thai restaurant in New York City. Better than Sripraphai. Better than anything.

Tonight we had...

Turnip cakes with mussels:

2010-05-16 17.46.02.jpg

This is a dish you're just not going to find many places. It's a good example of the kind of dish that sets Sookk apart: a refinement of a Southeast Asian street-food dish. The dish teeters on the edge of weird fishy funkiness but the flavors are balanced such that it's delicious. You wouldn't want to eat it as leftovers.

Chicken and pumpkin curry:

2010-05-16 17.49.39.jpg

Another dish that rises above the norm. Curries are so boring at most places, with even the best ones mostly offering just heat as distinguishing traits. This one is actually different, though. It's a curry you haven't tasted yet.

"Sidewalk beef noodles":

2010-05-16 17.47.33.jpg

I guess the derivation of this dish name is that they're representative of something sidewalk vendors serve, but I can't tell you how many times we've made the joke that these noodles have to be eaten on the sidewalk to be enjoyed. Just tonight I asked our son PJ, just shy of 5 years old, whether he's like some sidewalk noodles and he said, "Can we eat them on the sidewalk?" In any event, they're delicious, topped with very tender braised beef. They're available with a brown sauce, as here, or in a broth.

Pad See Ew with chicken:

2010-05-16 17.47.24.jpg

The standard dish, made very well.

Green papaya salad:

2010-05-16 17.33.11.jpg

The best green-papaya salad I've had.

"Green leaf dumplings"

2010-05-16 17.33.00.jpg

These we got for someone with dietary restrictions, but they're pretty good by any standard not just if you're a vegetarian.

An appetizer assortment of fried stuff:

2010-05-16 17.35.37.jpg

Spring rolls, sesame tofu, chicken-and-shrimp fritters, fried shrimp, all excellent.

Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce:

2010-05-16 17.46.10.jpg

Jasmine rice and black sticky rice:

2010-05-16 17.49.47.jpg

2010-05-16 17.49.57.jpg

It's a tiny restaurant but clean and comfortable. They've made the most of the space. On warmer days the front opens to the street.

2010-05-16 17.13.00.jpg

The website has a menu, contact info and not much else:

http://sookkrestaurant.com/


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live a few blocks away from here, but it took me a while to try it just thanks to the glut of thai places that have opened on the UWS! They have a soup they call 'Yaowarat Herbs Stewed Beef Soup' which has become a staple in all of our orders... it's a great rich broth that's reminiscent of some chinese red cooked pork dishes, along with very tender chunks of beef, bok choy, and goji berries.

I didn't have a great pad see ew experience there, but I should probably try again and see if it was an off day. The one time I had it, it didn't feel like it had the same 'cooked in a tremendously hot wok' feel that I've gotten in the dish at some places, like the wok hei that is talked about with chinese cooking.


Edited by davidkeay (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't you say that Klong was as good as Sripraphai?

I've gotten the "better than Sripraphai" recommendation for a Thai place on 14th at 2nd Ave. Haven't been over to try it yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I laughed. I cried. It was bettah than Sripraphai!"


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't you say that Klong was as good as Sripraphai?

I don't believe so. I think Klong has some individual dishes that are better than the Sripraphai equivalents. But Sookk is, in my opinion, a superior restaurant. Stylistically, there are some points of commonality among Sookk, Klong and Room Service, because (according to Julia Moskin in the New York Times) a fellow named Ahm Bopit is either a partner or somehow involved in all of them. But Sookk is the first Thai-derived restaurant I've been to since I started going to Sripraphai many years ago that I thought was better than Sripraphai straight up. That's separate from the issue of Sripraphai not being as good now as it once was.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, ok. But I still blame you for some pretty bad delivery I got from Klong. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I laughed. I cried. It was bettah than Sripraphai!"

anymore details or is it just better than Sripraphai?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me the basic argument boils down to:

- Where both restaurants make the same dish and I've tried both, Sookk is better, e.g., green papaya salad, pad see ew, curry

- Where Sookk has dishes that Sripraphai doesn't, e.g., turnip cake with mussels, "sidewalk noodles," there's nothing at Sripraphai to offset


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me the basic argument boils down to:

- Where both restaurants make the same dish and I've tried both, Sookk is better, e.g., green papaya salad, pad see ew, curry

- Where Sookk has dishes that Sripraphai doesn't, e.g., turnip cake with mussels, "sidewalk noodles," there's nothing at Sripraphai to offset

Hey FG,

Just out of curiosity, have you been to either Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, or to Jitlada in LA? These are among the better U.S. Thai meals I've had in recent years, and wondered how Sookk compares to either of those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been to Lotus of Siam (posted about it here) and never heard of the other place. But I wouldn't really compare Lotus of Siam to any Thai restaurant in New York City (except maybe something like Vong in its heyday). The level of refinement, prices, wine program, and departure from traditional Thai cuisine all make Lotus of Siam hard to compare. Lotus of Siam is certainly a better restaurant than Sookk, and it's also better than Sripraphai, but it's so different I'm not sure the comparison means all that much.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DH is now working in NYC three days a week, and I tagged along with him this week. Last night, we went to Sookk for dinner based on this report and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't compare it to the other NYC spots, but it was so much better than the places around our house in CT that I don't know if I'll be able to go back to my old favorites. No need for photos from our dinner as everything we ordered was already documented here. We got the fried appetizer sampler, the green papaya salad, the beef sidewalk noodles, and the pumpkin curry. The noodles were the favorite, and the curry the least favorite, but we liked all of it. I think I'll be dreaming about those noodles.

I was surprised at the ambience - I was expecting more of a "hole in the wall" when it's actually quite swanky for a thai place. I am pregnant and my tours of NYC include quite a few visits to the loo - the one at Sookk gets a prize for coolest, previously held by the NBA store.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Shaw,

Thank you. It's so easy to recommend an expensive restaurant...they better be good. I deeply appreciate your attention to a far more difficult category, moderately priced and exceptional restaurants.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...