How Room Service's “Songkran” Menu Helped Break Down Stereotypes of New York City’s Thai Scene

The tourism authority of Thailand opened our eyes to a new world of cuisine

With shrimp, calamari, anchovies and fresh chili and basil, Room Service's squid ink noodles, is as tasty as it may be intimidating.

As part of Thai Tourism Week, a number of New York City Thai restaurants participated had a special “Songkran” menu to celebrate the Thai New Year. The Daily Meal was summoned to taste as many dishes as we could fit in, so we picked our top three dishes of the week to tell you about.

What we found was a far cry from the typical drunken noodles and spicy chili glazed wings waiting at every commonplace Thai joint.

“Our goal was to highlight the country's diverse culinary offerings and show New Yorkers that there is an incredible amount of delicious options to choose from instead of the stereotypical dishes such as pad Thai or chicken satay,” said Kedsarin Hasenfus on behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “Whether it is a hearty coconut milk soup, a vibrant curry or a crispy duck salad, there is true depth in Thai cuisine."

Viv 34: Out of the restaurants we visited, Viv 34 by far has the most fun menu descriptions. The Khao Soi noodles, for example, are “the best way to get to Chiang Mai without getting charged extra for luggage” and anyone who remembers old-school Disney movies will appreciate the Siamese fried rice, “if you please!” But nothing beats the way they describe its Beef Num Yok, “tossed with some of our delicious secret ingredients… well, not a real secret, but just a lot of ingredients.”

Esanation: Wins for most authentic “Thai Street Food” and successfully brought us out of our comfort zone. We tried the crab and roasted pork noodle made with crab meat, egg noodles, bok choy, scallion, cilantro, and garlic, served dry with soup on the side; the incredibly spicy Som Tum Thai papaya salad with microscopic dried shrimp and peanuts; and delicious fatty pork neck skewers that were easily our favorite.

Room Service: Definitely our favorite pick where décor is concerned, especially since we got our own little table tucked away from the main layout. Our favorite dish here was an “authentic” pad thai noodle wrapped in an entire egg, served with sliced of mango and mixed seafood that included shrimp, muscles, and calamari.

The official Thai Restaurant Week may be over, but as Hasenfus says, in a hyper-foodie culture where we constantly turn our attention towards what we eat, just a glimpse into a more native view of Thai food has the power to switch up our flat-noodle routine.

“We want people to stray from the stereotypical favorites and explore the menus for more authentic options, which opens greater discussion about Thai food and more importantly, culture."

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Disclosure: We were invited in for these tastings.