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Zabb Thai


Bond Girl
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Okay, so the menu is kind of limited right now as the restaurant gets up to speed....but as the Queens location kicks ass when it comes to Northern Thai food, I have great hopes for the Manhattan location. And, it's a block away from my house!!!! Will report back after deivery arrives.

Zabb Thai

244 East 13th Street

212-529-8770

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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does the queens location have a menu similar to most other thai restaurants?  not sure what "northern thai" means, as people have different expecations.  if it's "northern thai" like Lotus of Siam in Vegas, then I'm in.

Yep, assuming this Zabb is related to the Queens location, it's food from Isaan, the northeastern part of Thailand, famous for som tum, laab, and especially spicy grub. Same region as Lotus of Siam. Zabb even has a salad that's sort of similar to the one at Lotus with the puffed rice and pork skin. Man, that's good. If the Manhattan location is anything like the Queens one, avoid curries (even coconut milk-less ones) and stick with salads.

Zabb Queens reviews:

NY Times

Village Voice

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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When I stopped in the other day, the girl inside said they are the same as the Zabb in Queens. The 13 street space is small, so may be a full menu like the Zabb in queens is not possible?

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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does the queens location have a menu similar to most other thai restaurants?  not sure what "northern thai" means, as people have different expecations.  if it's "northern thai" like Lotus of Siam in Vegas, then I'm in.

Yep, assuming this Zabb is related to the Queens location, it's food from Isaan, the northeastern part of Thailand, famous for som tum, laab, and especially spicy grub. Same region as Lotus of Siam. Zabb even has a salad that's sort of similar to the one at Lotus with the puffed rice and pork skin. Man, that's good. If the Manhattan location is anything like the Queens one, avoid curries (even coconut milk-less ones) and stick with salads.

Zabb Queens reviews:

NY Times

Village Voice

i think most thai menus fall into the northeastern/isaan thai style. the larb, for example, is generally made in a bright style with lime juice and fish sauce. northern stye thai, which Lotus of Siam specializes in with its dedicated northern thai menu, is a different animal, with unique dishes that you don't find at most Isaan-style places.

so yeah, i'm hoping they have some northern style dishes in addition to the isaan/northeastern style stuff. if pork skin is on the menu, i'm most definitely in.

Edited by tommy (log)
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When I stopped in the other day, the girl inside said they are the same as the Zabb in Queens. The 13 street space is small, so may be a full menu like the Zabb in queens is not possible?

I've never been to Zabb in Queens. How big is it?

One thing a poster on Chowhound complained about was the use of green peppers at the Manhattan location. I can relate. I hate green peppers, and they're bad for my stomach, to boot. Plus, they're just cheap filler.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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i think most thai menus fall into the northeastern/isaan thai style.  the larb, for example, is generally made in a bright style with lime juice and fish sauce.  northern stye thai, which Lotus of Siam specializes in with its dedicated northern thai menu, is a different animal, with unique dishes that you don't find at most Isaan-style places. 

Sorry if I implied that because other Thai restaurants also serve som tum and laab they are Isaan restaurants. That's not the case at all. Zabb Queens has plenty of northeastern stuff that you won't find on most Thai menus around town. Here's the menu. It's certainly not Lotus, but still...

Zabb's food tends to be spicier than that at post-renovations Sripraphai. Some of the salads, though they're different, are better than those at Sri, with sharper flavors and more heat.

Edited by jogoode (log)

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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  • 3 months later...

I went Wednesday with my girl and Nathan. It's a tiny little box of a room, nicely decorated w/warm modern tones. Maybe 20 seats. Besides another couple we were the only table. Depressing considering the food is fantastic. We started with:

Curry puffs; stuffed with potato, onion and ground chicken. Delicious airey, light pockets, not over fried (as they can often be) with a rich, mostly potato filling. I didn't notice the chicken but it didn't matter. They were awesome.

Fresh Roll (summer roll) was ok. Very fresh ingredients, cool temperature, chili vinigrte. Pretty standard. (I was a bit disappointed when I realized they left out the smoked tofu. Apparently previous diners were turned off to it so they nixed it (w/out telling us). Whatever. (I guess It's stuff like this that Americanizes Manhattan Thai compared w/Queen's). I think it would have been better had it contained the tofu.

Esan grilled beef salad w/tossed dried chili, mint, onion, thai herbs and lime juice was out of this world. I can't really explain why it worked so well (as I'm a novice w/Thai food) but I'm guessing the Thai herbs, lime juice, qlty of beef and amt of grilling make for a wonderful salad. (I hope someone on here tries it and breaks it down better than I can).

Mains:

Zabb Pow Pow Pork with onions, scallions and chili paste. Simple dish. The pork strips had a tender yet crispy quality. Was very good just lacked some veggies.

Kee Mao Noodles w/chicken sauteed w/basil, shoots and Chinese broccoli. - Loved the giant noodles. Haven't seen them this big in too many places. They keep this dish simple and let the ingredients do the talking. I liked that it wasn't too oily as this type of dish can be.

Finally, the peanut curry with Seafood (shrimp, calamari and baby scallops) done in a thick red curry/coconut milk sc w/eggplant, peas, basil and peanuts. My favorite. The shellfish were super fresh, the sc stuck to the rice like a cream sc should. The flavors in this curry were beyond what I've had in NY so far......lots of layers. I'd go back just for this dish.

Perhaps this Zabb is a bit more Americanized than some would like. And I say that regarding only the level of spice (the Queens branch is reported to offer insanely spicy fare) and not the authentic complexity of their cuisine. This worked fine for me and my girl as we don't have a high threshold but appreciate some spice. Perhaps, the moment someone inquires of the spice level (as we did) the turn it way down. I'm sure if you let them know you want the real deal they'll comply.

For me, this place was better than Pam and not too far behind Srip. I'll have to give it another shot to justify (and I surely will).

I really hope everyone reading this gives them a shot. Judging from the business we saw (none) I don't know how long they can sustain. (Hopefully take-out will carry them till word gets out)

FYI, it's byo so much savings to be had!

That wasn't chicken

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I enjoyed my meal at Zabb City (its Manhattan moniker).

Alas, I'm sorry to say that we ran afoul of the classic rule that one should never ever ask an Asian restaurant with entirely Western clientele to not make things "too spicy"...this wasn't my idea to begin with as my palate can handle any spice level but the result in this case was no discernible heat whatsoever...leaving, especially the Pow Pow, us with cloying sweetness in some cases.

Come on guys, I know you didn't want it at the Sriphithai level but no restaurant in Manhattan with an entirely Western clientele is going to give you a lot of heat unless you beg for it.

With that said, the ingredients were fresh and good. I was grateful to see a few Eesane (or Issaan) dishes on the menu...the last time I've had anything from Eesane or Laos (the cuisines are very similar) was at Ee-sane in Milwaukee.

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On my first visit to Zabb City, I chatted up the waiter about Sri Pra and the Zabb Queens location. Asked about how they tuned the spicing on 13th street and then said make it regular spicy for them and, man I could barely eat the food. It was HOT.

It's great having this joint just around the corner.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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On my first visit to Zabb City, I chatted up the waiter about Sri Pra and the Zabb Queens location.  Asked about how they tuned the spicing on 13th street and then said make it regular spicy for them and, man I could barely eat the food.  It was HOT.

It's great having this joint just around the corner.

Nice to know they'll kick up the spice factor. I was sure of this and happy we weren't set on fire.

Did you hear that Nathan? You can still take a girl there and show off your unparalleled resilience to spicy food. :wacko:

Now, if only they did some business they might make it past the new year.

That wasn't chicken

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Unfortunately, what we ended up with had no heat at all.

Thai (and Laotian) cooking depends upon the perfect balancing of flavors. When you don't have spice you have too much sweetness. And we had exactly that in several dishes.

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