Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pukk

We went to Pukk at 71 1st Ave between 4th & 5th in Manhattan. Pukk is a vegetarian Thai place owned by the same people who own SEA, another yummy (but not specifically vegetarian) Thai restaurant.

Thai Iced Tea
By the time I started eating Thai food, I was already a vegan. So whenever I would get Thai with a non-vegan friend, I’d watch them drink their Thai Iced Tea and jealously wonder what it tasted like. Pukk has changed all that. I’ve heard that Pukk makes their Thai Iced Tea with soy milk by default, but I specifically ordered a “Thai Iced Tea with soy milk” just to be careful. Did it live up to the wild expectations I’d created over years of watching people drink it? Actually yes, it did. Pukk’s Thai Iced Tea was very sweet and very delicious. You could really taste the fresh, earthy tea flavor which was the base of this drink, but on top of that base there was sweetness, coconuttyness (yes, I know that’s an awesome word and yes, I did just invent it) and creaminess. I actually liked it so much that I ordered two! -Jim

Herb Brown Rice Salad
This was an amazing dish full of lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, mint, onion, and peanuts over a bed of brown rice on lettuce. The dressing was tangy and refreshing. The rice was cushy and chewy. There were also crispy clumps of rice that had be fried and browned together almost like a hashbrown. I’m usually not a fan of lemongrass but here every ingredient worked together to please every taste bud. So yum! -Ev
I expected the huge strips of ginger to be too strong but all the different flavors, textures and colors combined to make a really great, really original salad. -Jim

Mushroom Puffs
The outside of these deep-fried puffs was soft with just a little crunch. Inside was a super-hearty mix of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and herbs. It was like a soup, only better, and not wet. I was worried this appetizer might be a little bland, but it was quite flavorful. It also a came with a tiny amount of cucumber salsa, which was very tangy and sweet. It was a good match of flavors and it actually turned out to be just the right amount of salsa. Overall, this was a very good, original appetizer that had a Winter/Autumn feel to it, though I’d order it again in any season.. -Jim
The earthy flavor of the mushrooms and the super-soft outside were amazing. I liked putting the salsa on top because the crunchy texture and sharp taste contrasted really well with the puff. Mmmm. I want some now. -Ev

Duck Pad Thai
The Pad Thai here was more on the tamarind-y side which is just how I like it. There were all the standards on board- scallions, bits of smoked tofu, peanuts and bean sprouts. The veggie duck at Pukk is my favorite veggie duck. Veggie duck at other restaurants tends to either be thin and slimy or fat and grisly. This was the perfect in-between. It had enough bite to be satisfying but was not greasy or slimy at all. It had a rich savory flavor and good chew. I would have prefered some veggies in there with it but that would have just added to an excellent meal. -Ev
The night before we went to Pukk I was watching Iron Chef and thinking, “I love ring-molds. Why don’t more restaurants use them?” And then we go to Pukk and Ev gets ring-molded Pad Thai. Awesome! -Jim

Spicy Tamarind Tofu
This was the least impressive part of the meal for me, but it was still really good. The veggies were nice and fresh and the tofu was good but soft. I was hoping for more crispy tofu, which is what I prefer in Thai food (and in general, actually). The sauce was good and distinctly Thai. It was sweet and tangy, almost like a sweet and sour sauce, but I tend to find sweet and sour sauces to be overbearing and this was not. The reason I say it was the least impressive part of the meal is because I find that food at Pukk comes in two varieties: there are dishes that are really good and inventive, and then there are dishes which are really good and not so inventive. This was just really good and not so inventive. But it was still really good! -Jim

Thai Tea Cheesecake
What I liked most about the cheesecake was how light it was. The cake itself was thick but it wasn’t overladen with sugar or a fatty taste. It was exceptional with the strawberries. It just may be my favorite cheesecake in NYC. -Ev
I was really impressed with this. It seems that Pukk home-makes all their desserts and most (if not all) of them are vegan and delicious. This was a GREAT cheesecake. It was small, and I didn’t taste any tea flavor, but it was great and really well presented. -Jim

The Bottom Line
Pukk is awesome. I guess I’ve been to slightly better Thai places, but I’ve never been to a better vegetarian-specific Thai place because I think Pukk is the only one in NYC. In the past, I have gotten maybe one or two dishes at Pukk that I didn’t love, but I’d say 95% of their food is delicious, 50% of it is very inventive and original, and 100% of it is beautifully plated. Also, the restaurant itself is gorgeous in a very modern, cyberpunk kind of way. I heart Pukk. -Jim
Pukk is perfect for a nice night out when you want inventive dishes that look great & taste great but don’t want to empty out your wallet. The food is delicious and full of surprising combinations. And every dish is plated beautifully. We’ve been to Pukk a few times and I have no idea why it’s taken us so long to go back and do a review. It is one of the best restaurants in NYC. Oh, and it has a really cool bathroom. Two words: holographic lightbulb. -Ev

8 Comments:

Anonymous I to the SA said...

Oh, wow. Get the hell out of here. That looks awesome. I never bothered going there because thai is thai but this stuff looks really different and delicious. Let's go again when I get some money. Coconutty.

9:17 PM, September 02, 2006

 
Blogger OshinkoTickle said...

Okay, we are definately putting this one on the list!!! Mmmmmmmm....

We got to a vegan Chinese place here in Philly that has THE BEST mock duck. I am curious to try it somewhere else.

6:50 PM, September 03, 2006

 
Anonymous Paula said...

that pad thai looks super ogod! plus it is in a fancy shape, which is...um...fancy! I'm thinking I will just spend all my time in NY eating until I run out of money and then I will come home. Hopefully you can help me out on that adventure.

(wait...don't let me actually do that because I would only last about 2 weeks.)

11:50 PM, September 03, 2006

 
Anonymous Isa said...

I really loved Pukk. My favorite things were the Evelyn's mushroom puffs, the green crepe dumplings and the entree I got, perfect protein duck? Is that what it was called? So good. Chickpeas, peanuts, seitan and tamarind. The desserts were out of control, I bet you can't go wrong with any of them.

12:31 AM, September 21, 2006

 
Blogger East Village Podcasts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:47 PM, May 08, 2007

 
Blogger East Village Podcasts said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:50 PM, May 08, 2007

 
Blogger East Village Podcasts said...

Great review!

10:51 PM, May 08, 2007

 
Blogger pinkberry said...

Don't know if you guys ever got to try their blueberry cheesecake....was there last nite....it's gone now.I'm a sad girl.

Replaced by sesame cheesecake.Didn't get to try it as it was too late to order dessert.

Our table of 3 had two orders of the mushroom puffs.Greedy greedy!

8:39 AM, September 17, 2007

 

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