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Bennie Thai Cafe

I just found out that's its real name. James always referred to it as
Benny's and all I could think of was Benny's Burritos, and that's one place
I could do without. It's been said this is the best Thai place around Wall
St., but I think that's because it's the only Thai place near Wall
St. Not to imply that it's bad, because it isn't at all.

I only tried two pretty standard dishes, pad thai and beef with basil.
Both were very eatable. It's the sort of pad thai that's sweet. I don't know
if that's authentic or Americanized, but I do like that flavor. It's not one
of those deals where you specify the filling you want, it automatically
comes with tofu, chicken, shrimp and those unidentifiable crispy, rich bits
of meat that I've had in Malaysian noodles. Pork would be a good guess.

An interesting feature is the open kitchen that looks like it was
directly transported from a '70's suburban home. Wood cabinets, earth-toned
formica counters, and a regular no-frills stove are always a welcome sight.

Stopped in for a little basil chicken and red curry after guiltily
peeking at the World Trade Center wreckage while trying to not seem like a
gawker. Enjoying Thai with the smell of burnt who-knows-what in the air may
seem like a challenge, but it's not impossible. (10/9/01)

Take out green curry and E3 (basil chicken that James insists is the
best) made for good casual Fri. night dining. (2/15/02)

I hadn't been here in a million years, but it was 5pm Friday and I thought
I'd meet James near his office. Les Halles was bandied about initially, yet
somehow we settled on Bennie's even though we'd already eaten toned down
Thai two nights before (and 9D didn't serve pork
either–what gives? Thais eat pork). I'm not crazy about Bennie's, though
James has a sick fondness for E3, gai pad krapao, chile and basil
chicken, because it was the first version he ever had. Gai pad krapao
has become known as E3 ever since, even at other restaurants, and even in
other countries such as Thailand where they don't know much about E's or 3s,
but still whip up a mean version (usually served a lunch dish with a fried
egg on top).

I decided to try something other than a curry and ended up with an oddball
called rama dish, described as "sauted beef or chicken topped with peanut
sauce on the green." What arrived was a slew of vegetables like carrots,
Chinese broccoli, and baby corn mixed with beef strips and caked in peanut
sauce, served with a steak knife. Not thinned down nutty curry like penang,
which was what I'd anticipated, but the thick stuff used for satay dip. A
little goes a long way, you don't necessarily want mouthful after mouthful
of the sweet ochre condiment. It was weird, though not hideous, to say the

I felt unsettled by the fact that nearly every diner that evening was huge
(and that they were playing an all Christmas music station). I'm not tiny,
myself, and maybe that's why I don't want to be associated with a room full
of obese people eating fried rice and pad thai with chopsticks (I think we
were the only ones not eating pad thai or using chopsticks, including our
waitress). It's my own insecurity and I shouldn't fault Bennie's for drawing
inexplicably hefty patrons. (11/18/05)

Bennie Thai Cafe * 88 Fulton St., New York, NY

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  1. Shirley #

    88 Fulton St have been occupied with another restaurant called Goodies. Please do come and try the food! It’s delicious, and most popular for its soup dumplings.

    May 18, 2009
  2. Shirley: You mean the Goody’s that used to be in Chinatown? I’ll have to see what’s going on on Fulton St.

    May 19, 2009

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