Before coming to Bangklyn East Harlem, we had personally never eaten coconut tamarind crab noodles next to a pile of vintage jumpsuits. And, now that we’ve done it, we insist anyone who spends time on the Upper East Side try it too.
This relaxed counter-service spot serves a wide range of Thai food, like Southern fried chicken, creamy coconut curries, and khao mun gai (steamed chicken). But our favorite is the tamarind coconut milk noodles with crab. It’s sweet and nutty, and comes with enough crab to be confused with the vermicelli noodles they’re mixed with.
Perhaps more memorable than the food is the space. It’s part restaurant, part espresso bar, and part vintage clothing store. The owner spent most of his career in the streetwear fashion world, and started his own vintage fair in Bangkok. What this means is that dinner here happens next to shelves of vintage clothes from the owner’s collection, including things like a child’s shirt that says “You can do it, Charlie Brown” and Tommy Hilfiger jeans repurposed with buttons from the year 1900. There’s very little signage to indicate what exactly is going on here, but ask the owner and it’s possible he’ll start telling you about it like you’re watching a live documentary on his life. Including a story about how Alexander Wang has been to the restaurant and loves the food. We never thought we’d have anything concretely in common with Alexander Wang, but now we do. Come here for dinner and you can too.
Have you ever considered concocting an entire wig with nothing but strands of crab and vermicelli noodles? Neither had we, until we ate this sweet noodle dish and realized how perfectly soft and springy both were. There are a few protein options, but we highly suggest you commit to crab.
These wings come covered in an inordinate amount of fried garlic and shallot flakes. They are crispy and crunchy on the outside, and go nicely with the sweet vinegar dipping sauce on the side.
If you opt into the spicy version of this classic dish, know that it genuinely packs heat. There’s a ton of cooked basil mixed in with the rice, so each bite tastes like a nice herby fireball.
We will always appreciate a curry that feels vaguely light, while maintaining flavor from things like eggplant, garlic, and coconut. Bangklyn’s thin green curry is a great example of this balance, and we especially like the one with shrimp.
This steamed chicken is disappointingly bland. We ended up putting the leftovers into our curry, in hopes of it absorbing some more flavor for later.