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Chalong, Chef Nate Limwong's Outstanding Southern Thai on 9th Avenue at W 51st Street

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I was in NYC about a month ago, and we met one of my best friends for dinner. He lives there, and selected Chalong (which I'd never heard of).

One of my other best friends (who used to live on W. 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues) independently told me that Hell's Kitchen on 9th Avenue between W. 55th and W. 50th has been redeveloped, and has some really interesting restaurants. So, I had a feeling that Chalong might be really good.

Little did I know that it would be the first time in my entire life that I've had - not "good" or "very good" - but *great* Thai cooking. The closest I'd come before this was Little Serow (which was my benchmark - I've never been to Asia).

Chalong - which is a modern, but uncompromising presentation of Thai classics - was so much better than any Thai cuisine I've ever had (from the north, or from the south) that if this was an Olympic podium, it would be standing alone, with no silver or bronze medals being awarded. The only thing keeping me from saying it's "world-class Thai" is my own lack of experience with travel to Thailand (i.e., I really don't know, but I do know that this is absolutely Michelin-star-cuisine (even though it would more likely have a Bib Gourmand rating due to its informal vibe). I'm pretty sure you could throw a dart at the menu, and come up with something terrific.

The three of us split the Baerng Golae ($16) and Coconut Puff Stick ($15) for appetizers (each conveniently had three pieces), and kept our mains to ourselves (my friend not being an adventurous diner or plate-passer). I think he got the See Eew Chicken ($18) and enjoyed it, DIShGo got the Grilled Hor-Mok ($29, toned down a bit, heat-wise) and I had the Steamed Fish ($32). We did some plate-passing on the latter two dishes, and really, every single thing I tried on this evening was the best Thai food I'd ever eaten, i.e., the *worst* thing I tried was better than the *best* thing I'd tried at any other Thai restaurant in my lifetime. I don't want to oversell Chalong for those of you who've tried true Thai cuisine; I can only draw on my own experience (which is considerable, but constrained to "best of DC" over the past 30-40 years, i.e., Little Serow, Thai Square back in the 1990s, Elephant Jumps, maybe a few others.

Apr 17, 2023: "Chalong" by Hannah Goldfield on New Yorker.com

The menu is included below, and I'll include a couple of pictures of the restaurant (I didn't get any of the food). It's a pillbox, so reservations are an absolute must on any night. Chalong is worth going out of the way for. Do it.

Screenshot 2024-07-04 08.32.46.png

Looking over my right shoulder, back across the bar:|


Looking out the front:



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Dined there Saturday on Don's rec.  I can confirm that it's excellent and a great answer to the eternal "where should I eat before (or after) a Broadway play?" question.  It wasn't the best Thai food I've ever eaten, however (and I haven't been to Bangkok).  In particular, I wonder whether Don is forgetting just how wonderful Little Serow could be, particularly during Golden Mermaid weeks.

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On 7/8/2024 at 4:16 PM, Marty L. said:

In particular, I wonder whether Don is forgetting just how wonderful Little Serow could be, particularly during Golden Mermaid weeks.

I think you’re right, Marty - I’d forgotten just how special Little Serow was (never mind that I tossed all “Thai Cuisine” into the same bucket up above).

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