Qi Thai Grill
Qi Thai Gril is Williamsburg's latest attempt at
Meatpacking the neighborhood. The enormous stage set restaurant could simply be
ignored if the food wasn't actually pretty good. Though I can't say that's true
across the board, since I was careful to mostly order things that sounded interesting,
no green curry or pad thai. And if our server's cock-blocking of multiple dishes
ordered is any indication, no one's opting for the stuff that's worth trying.
(Overheard at neighboring table: "I don't like coconut milk."
Ignore the chopsticks, order the small dishes and
specialties, don't for the love of god be a couple who each orders one thing
and eats it like an individual entree (the worst!) dig the statuary and ambient
Asian boutique hotel chillout music while pretending you're at an upscale Bangkok
restaurant for foreigners. Then laugh because you're in beardo Brooklyn. Whatever Qi is, it's not
"Do you know what tendon is?" is not what
you expect to hear after explicitly ordering tendon. No one should be scared
off because I suspect this is one of the more intriguing things on menu, if you
know and enjoy eating tendons, of course. In fact, it's the first thing on the
first page of the menu (from the list of Sripraphai-created small plates). The
tendons are not thin strips more common to Sichuan preparations, but fatty
blobs that are a chewy foil for the bright lemongrass and kaffir lime and
creeping heat that's mighty. The roasted rice powder adds a toasty finish.
Minus the chile dipping sauce, there's nothing particularly
Thai about the Ovaltine ribs from Pichet Ong's grilled selections. Rich with five
spice–or at least star anise and cinnamon–the malty chocolate blends into combination
that's almost Malaysian. Like rendang on a bone.
When you see verbiage like "Perhaps the
spiciest Thai dish that NYC has to offer" it's hard to let the claim go
untested. I've yet to encounter anything hotter than the brutal Southern curry
at Sripraphai that no one should order more than once every half-decade, and
the Fiery Pork Red Turmeric Curry is a little kinder. The split bird and dried
red chiles are tamed by a soupy amount of coconut milk, though the heat is certainly
on the serious end of the Scoville scale by Brooklyn Thai standards. Plus, I'm
always happy to see those apple eggplants.
Noodles are always underwhelming, and the pad kee
mao fell into that carby and comforting but ultimately unexciting category. A
little chile-spiked fish sauce might have helped.
Qi Thai Grill * 176 Ninth St., Brooklyn, NY