Upper East Side, NYC — The Upper East Side suffered from much culinary homogenization for a very long time, serving up only Irish pub foods with burgers, traditional Italian pasta dishes, and a couple of noted linen-table-cloth-and-porcelain-tea-cup Chinese restaurants that were frequented mostly for their oversized spareribs and hefty portions of sweet & sour pork, chicken chow mein, or shrimp in lobster(less) sauce.
The neighborhood first showed signs of changing with a restaurant called Penang, which offered authentic Malaysian cuisine. No one in this neighborhood had any idea what Malaysian cuisine entailed exactly, as we were just finally becoming acclimated to sushi.
That restaurant first opened 20 years ago on the corner of 83rd and 2nd — and has since long departed, but not before enjoy a few years of virally popular business, hipping the Yorkville newcomers to something unconventional, mixing the elements we new of Asian cooking — the soy, ginger, sesame — and elevating it with really spicy peppers, coconut milk(!), and a wider variety of curries than we knew could possibly exist.
By the time the UES got more hip and daring with their dining options (bless you Luke's Lobster, Cascabel Taqueria, et al) we had already grown tired of the brief glut of Thai places that seemed to exist every other block, most of them suffering the same monotony of menu options that befell the Chinese restaurant options before them.
Enter Pye Boat Noodle, the new Upper East Side outpost of the popular spot in Astoria, Queens. Pye purports to feature truly authentic Thai "hawker", or street, food. That food, listed in Pye's menu in their original language, makes no pretense to be anything fanciful or overthought, instead being genuinely and accessibly delicious, proudly showcasing the flavor profiles — exotically very spicy, sweet, and savory — of its provenance in a readily accessible preparations.
On my most recent visit (my third in a week) I treated myself to kai nok krata tode (quail egg wrapped in crispy wonton skin with sweet chili sauce), beef panang (sautéed panang curry with long hot chilis and coconut milk), and a dessert of pang sang ka ya (steamed bread cubes topped with a sweet-spiced custard).
Again, I've been so impressed with everything I've had so far at Pye that I've ordered from there almost every other day since a friend first recommended it to my — knowing full well of my highly discerning palate — and I have not only yet to be disappointed, i've been repeatedly surprised how much depth and balanced is able to be achieved in otherwise simply ideated recipes.
I can remain an excited UES diner who doesn't travel out of the neighborhood as much as most people, as long as the restaurants continue to do the branching out this well.
Pye Boat Noodle (UES) | 1709 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128 | (212) 427-3077 | pyeboatnoodle.com