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Ember Room, "Progressive Thai Comfort Food" in Hell's Kitchen - Chef Ian Chalermkittichai on 9th Avenue and W. 45th Street

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On a recent trip to NYC a local friend took me to one of those countless NYC restaurants you've never heard of and will never see in any guide book anywhere. From the street you can barely discern the doorway, let alone imagine that behind it lies a jewel box of a restaurant that serves surprisingly imaginative food, has a friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff, and will make you wish you lived here so you could hang out at the bar after work with the other locals who obviously visit this kitchen more often than the ones in their tiny NYC flats.

The Ember Room touts itself as "progressive Thai", not sure what that really means, but there is definitely a soul food meets Asian fusion thing going on here. I was expecting the combo to be clumsy or weird somehow, but at ER it really isn't. It just works. Highlights included the mac'n cheese (with Thai spices) and a pan seared chicken set aflame table side in lemongrass-infused vodka. Pricing is typical NYC...cocktails are $12-$14, entrees around $25. I was pleased with the value to quality ratio.

Web site: http://www.emberroom.com/

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