Last week, Mom was in town for work, and since she's a Thai food fanatic, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to check out Pure Thai Shophouse. So on a chilly, chilly December evening, we convened in the tiny store for some eats.
First off, the restaurant's atmosphere is funky but not exactly comfortable. It's a small place with only a few tables in the back, and each table is wedged in quite intimately with its neighbors. That's one of the exigencies of being in New York, I understand, but the design aspect I took issue with was that the chairs were backless stools. Square backless stools. Not cool, and not comfortable. Unless you're at a bar, there's no reason to be sitting on a stool, and even at a bar the stool should have a back. But, you know, that's just my thing.
First, they do serve their drinks in cool crushed ice, which makes everything better, in my not-so-humble opinion.
But now, to the food. Mom and I both ordered the papaya salad, hers as a starter, mine as my main. While this dish (along with everything else in the restaurant) was quite reasonably priced, it actually wasn't one of the better papaya salads I've had. The earthy taste of the papaya overpowered the flavor mix, so rather than having your mouth pop with the lime, chile, peanuts, and fish sauce, the overall flavor profile was (literally) muddy. Just a little bit... blah. I've had much better. Sad.
Mom's Wok Curry Paste with Shrimp was also disappointing. She said it didn't taste like typical Thai curry, so it wasn't exactly what she was expecting. She rated it "okay" but not great, which for Mom is a pretty low rating.
And so I write this review with consternation. Everything I've read about Pure has been a rave, and I love the owners' Land restaurants, so I'm extra disappointed that our meals weren't great. Again, everything is reasonably priced, but given all the fantastic Thai joints in the neighborhood, that alone won't cut it. I really have no choice but to give Pure two Offset Spatulas and a sad, slightly confused shake of the head.
Pure Thai Shophouse
766 Ninth Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets