Two weekends ago, I attended the incredible show Fantasy Football: The Musical?, written by my good friend DI, part of the New York Musical Theater Festival. After laughing heartily for an hour and a half, fellow showgoers AV and JR and I were hungry. So we scurried around the corner to Aura Thai on Ninth Avenue.
The decor of Aura is plain and simple, but we were all so ravenous we didn't care. We started with a couple of apps-- first up, JR's fried calamari with sweet chili sauce. This dish looked like onion rings and was well received by both JR and AV, who sniped a ring or two.
AV and I shared the vegetable dumplings. These were large, half-moon/ravioli-style dumplings filled with a mixture of shredded veggies. The sweet sauce was drizzled over the top, which meant we weren't able to control the mixture of dumpling and sauce through dipping, always a key part of the experience. Overall, these weren't my favorite dumplings in the NYC Thai Restaurant Dumpling Pantheon; the filling tasted like generic frozen veggies, and I wasn't a huge fan of the half-moon shape.
Moving on, JR got a curry dish... and shamefully I can't remember exactly which one. But it was ample and flavorful and delicious, according to its consumer.
AV went with the pad see ew with chicken. Lots of green veggies made this one a winner in my book... and AV was also a fan.
My choice was, of course, papaya salad. This was a big portion with lots of green beans; the papaya was also cut spaghetti-style rather than in small matchsticks, which was interesting. The vinaigrette here was heavy on the lime and light on the umami, which made the whole dish light but lacking in the strong flavor usually associated with papaya salad.
Overall, we were so hungry that the food at Aura hit the spot. But the quality of food was definitely eclipsed by the other Thai options a few blocks up on Ninth. As a result, I wouldn't necessarily return to Aura unless I were ravenous and right in the area, which means Aura earns a two Offset Spatula designation. Done and done.
462 Ninth Avenue, between 35th and 36th streets