Josh and I ate at Pure Thai a little while ago, when it was called Shophouse rather than Cookhouse, but the menu looks the same despite the name change. We were there for lunch, when the portions are slightly smaller but the prices are cheaper as well. I loved the decor of the restaurant, which reminded me of the food stalls in Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. It was pretty rustic, with plain tables and low, backless stools. There were assorted condiments on the table so that you could adjust the spiciness and sourness of your dishes accordingly.
We shared a few appetizers from the “snacks” section to start. First was crispy tofu, which we can never resist at Thai restaurants. It wasn’t a huge portion but there were five large pieces of tofu, freshly fried, with crispy outsides and soft, slightly chewy insides. There was a dipping sauce on the side with chopped peanuts, tamarind, and chili sauce mixed together. The sauce was slightly sweet, slightly sour, and paired nicely with the plain, crispy tofu.
Our other appetizer was the steamed fresh roll stuffed with crab meat, pork sausage, cucumber, and smoked tofu. The wrapper was soft and chewy and could barely contain all the ingredients inside. I tried to bite a piece in half and it sort of fell apart, but the flavors melded together pretty well. There were lots of different textures going on, and the sausage was the predominant flavor. There a tamarind reduction underneath the roll that provided some sweetness and moisture to the dish.
For our entrees, we split two noodle dishes, since we had heard that the restaurant was famous for its noodles. First was their signature dish, the ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles. The thin egg noodles are handmade and have a wonderfully springy texture to them. They’re firm but not overly so, with a nice chewiness that I found pleasing to eat. The noodles are topped with roasted pork, lump crab meat, yu choy (a green leafy vegetable), and scallion. The roast pork was similar to Chinese style roast pork found in fried rice, with pink edges and a slight sweetness to them. The pork was slightly dry but flavorful. The crab meat wasn’t abundant in the bowl of noodles, but the dish was deliciously savory. I don’t know if there was a sauce or what, but it was like a big bowl of umami, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Our second dish was the pad kee moa, which has replaced pad thai as our standard for testing out new Thai restaurants. The kee moa on the menu features calamari, but we substituted chicken instead. The dish features flat wide noodles with tomato, baby bok choy, snow peas, chili puree, and thai basil. The dish is also known as “drunken noodles” or “spicy basil noodles”. The noodles have a slight kick to them but aren’t too spicy, and basil is the flavor that I find most predominant. Pure Thai’s version was pretty good flavor-wise, but I thought the noodles were a bit too soft for my liking.
Overall Josh and I both really liked Pure Thai. The food seemed more authentic to us in terms of flavor, and they are willing to adjust the spiciness of the dishes upon request. The menu isn’t very extensive but they have some of the more standard Thai dishes available, as well as a choice of protein. We loved the flavors and textures of the ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles. It was my favorite dish of the meal, hands down, but there are lots of other things on the menu that we didn’t get to try. Pure Thai isn’t the standard hell’s kitchen Thai restaurant, which definitely makes it worth checking out.
Pure Thai Cookhouse
766 9th Ave. between 51st and 52nd
New York, NY