114 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
The trend of over-the-top Thai restaurants peaked about five years ago and their numbers have been thinning ever since. No longer do you find too many glow-in-the-dark tables, or wading pools, or Angor Wat sized Buddha statues. No longer is there much hype in the buzzosphere about being able to pee while watching your fellow patrons through a one-way mirror in the bathroom. SEA was one of the fore-runners of this schtick, and it remains a fun diversion from the more recent trend: serious, localvore, cocktail-heavy, dark woods, neo-vintage Edison-bulb gastropubs.
Bro and I arrived around 6:30pm and that might have been too early. SEA was virtually deserted. Over the next couple of hours it filled up, though. Perhaps 7:30 would have been more appropriate. Walking into the ultramodern space is like taking a step into a Manga comic book set in the near future crossed with a restaurant designed by Lego people. Polished woods, tons of right angles, and smooth, poured concrete. A sampan boat. Big Brother-esque televisions are placed over each urinal in the bathroom where you can watch the crowd via a feed from SEA's CCTV security cameras. Yes ladies, rest assured that as you seductively suck on that pad thai noodle, there's a guy watching you holding his junk. At least if there's ever a holdup, someone on a toilet will be able to phone the authorities for us.
Anyone who goes to SEA for "authentic" Thai food is barking up the wrong tree. SEA is all about the scene. You go for the atmosphere and to hang with friends. This is not to say that the food was bad. Indeed, I thought it was pretty good. Bro and I didn't have anything there that we didn't like. But it was secondary to the whole point, which was having a ball in a big, loud fantasyland. Like a less expensive Buddakan. Sea is pretty cheap with appetizers in the under-$10 zone, and entrees in the teens. The drinks are trendy-Asian-restaurant standards. Pomegranate mojitos, lychee martinis, something with pineapple in it....
We started off with a handful of appetizers, all of which come in standard dim-sum-like sets of three or four. The Triangle Curry Puffs, a must-have for any Thai evening out, were, naturally, great. Curried potato and chicken wrapped in dough and served with a sweet cucumber sauce. Never has this dish has ever steered me wrong, regardless of where I got it (so far as I can recall). The Emerald Vegetable Dumplings were less amazing, but still good. Carrot and cabbage filled dumplings with a thick, dark, sweet sauce. They were a fine compliment to their follow up, the Tup Tim Fritters, a deep fried dumpling with chicken and a sweet and sour sauce. It was almost soggy despite the crisp-ish shell. The emerald dumplings were better, but only by a fraction. They were both on the mediocre side of good, and neither were unique.
The entrees were better though. My plate was the Beef Rama the King and Bro ordered the Patpong Green Curry Chicken. Both are "spicy" stews. The rama comes as a very sweet red curry with chili and peanuts and a load of vegetables. You almost want the side of rice to bland it up some. The green curry is milder, with eggplant, green beans and a hint of coconut. Both dishes are pretty much the same kinds that you could get at any one of a hundred other thai joints across the city. Bro and I enjoyed both, as we expected we would, and we didn't leave anything for doggy bags. As a separate side dish, we ordered Coconut Sticky Rice, a ball of coconut rice belted by a small palm leaf and so dense and heavy that you practically need a knife to cut through it. Small, but worth it.
"Good" spells out the whole experience. You're not likely to leave remembering what you ate here unless it's your first time having Thai. If you're like me, and there are five Thai restaurants within walking distance of your apartment and you already can't tell their menus apart, then the odds that SEA will be any different hovers around zero, culinarily. But SEA is more fun. You'll feel happier here. You'll feel more popular. You'll feel like you were just invited to a party. You'll feel like it was money well spent. Especially since you spent so little.
[ Copyright eateryROW 2012 ]