Friday, November 20, 2009

Kurve unkurving

November 20

On Monday Pichet Ong was busily plating yuzu cheesecake and jackfruit cake and passing out peanut butter cookies at a press event for his new dessert venture on St. Mark's Place with Michael Bao Huynh, called Spot, when ponytailed Andy Yang walked in and started telling me about new activities in his world.

Andy’s the owner of Rhong Tiam, my favorite Thai restaurant in the city and the recipient of a Michelin star (something that improved my opinion of the tire company’s New York guide considerably). He’s also the owner of one of’s favorite punching bags, Kurve.

Rhong Tiam serves quite traditional Thai food, with an occasional Indonesian dish such as rendang dropped in here and there, the spice toned down to suit the New York palate. Kurve, on the other hand, was Andy’s attempt at a sort of nouvelle Thai, which I enjoyed, but I guess it was too high-concept for people not so familiar with Thai food (I wrote about all of that in more detail than necessary awhile back).
Pichet did the desserts there, by the way.

Anyway, Kurve is finally giving up the ghost, soon to be reborn as another Rhong Tiam.

But that’s not all. Andy’s also working with the people at Collective Hardware, at Bowery and Delancey, to open a Rhong Tiam there, to be called Rhong Tiam at Collective Hardware (not a particularly imaginative name, but clear enough). He’s currently working on getting a full liquor license for that location — which will also have a rooftop bar, maybe with a celebrity cocktail maker behind the stick — and then he’ll try to get one for his original location at 541 LaGuardia Place (between Bleecker and W. 3rd), which currently just serves beer and wine.

Andy’s also expanding beyond the New York market, and opening a Rhong Tiam just outside of Princeton, N.J., in the town of Plainsboro. He says it will probably open in about a month.

After catching up with Andy and eating Pichet's desserts, I felt a need for something savory, so I walked upstairs to Pho 32 and Shabu. Pho, as you probably know, is a type of Vietnamese noodle soup. Shabu is actually shabu shabu, a sort of Japanese hot pot of thinly sliced beef.

But the menu was in English and Korean, which actually was the second indication to me that Pho 32 was a Korean chain. The first was that the instant I sat down I was presented with a cold vegetable — in this case one of those "Asian" salads with a peanut vinaigrette. The servers all wore stylized sarongs that looked basically Burmese. I’m not sure why they were wearing sarongs, but hey, if you’re a Korean chain serving Vietnamese and Japanese food, why not?

I had Pho #3, which has brisket, flank and soft tendon. I would have had a beer, but the license is pending.

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