Love is in the air.
At least that is what it feels like at NGAM, a newish Thai restaurant in the East Village.
From the moment you walk in the door you feel surrounded by someone’s passion. And shortly there after its likely you will see or meet Chef Hong Thaimee. She is the passion powerhouse behind Ngam.
NGAM joins the list of restaurants that I categorize as NYC style. These places, like Hearth, or Momofuku are the epitome of cool while offering outrageous food. You leave feeling like you can have it all – the music and food you want served in an atmosphere you appreciate (read not boring/uptight/rude).
I can confirm that everyone at NGAM knows what it means to be gluten free, with an intimate understanding of what is possible with the menu (most items are already gluten free)and if they don’t know, they ask. This restaurant is small enough that you can actually talk to Hong if you are being challenged by something, but chances are you won’t need to. Both of my visits were made better by her visits to our table asking us questions, but her staff is also extremely well prepared to deliver you gluten free deliciousness without her intervention.
During each visit I couldn’t stay away from the Som Tum Salad with grilled watermelon. Wow. It was a tad bit different each time but consistently excellent. The strawberries in the first try were excellent, but yet I didn’t miss them the second time when they were absent replaced by cantaloupe. Hong appears to choose local foods over consistency of ingredients, but the taste does not suffer.
The favorite dish we tried was the Zucchini Pad Thai. I didn’t know what to expect of this dish and was happily surprised to find just the right combination of zucchini cut into noodle thin slices with some bamboo shoots and a very slight touch of noodles. Wow. The sauce was just enough – not too dry like so many Pad Thai’s but not at all ketchupy.
The tendancy for meat to be very done at this restauant works in some dishes but not in others. We tried the Cutie Duckling / Kang Phed Ped Yang on another visit. It was very well done, but it still worked. As someone who likes rare duck this surprised me.
I love surprises.
Finally – the drinks at this restaurant are outstanding. I ordered a virgin strawberry mojito. It was amazing. The wine selection is also good for parings if you know your way around a wine menu.
Address: 99 Third Ave
Neighborhood: East Village