No Michelin? No problem.

With so many GOOD restaurants in New York City, I am sometimes afraid of making a bad choice – wasting my time at a mediocre, or even terrible restaurant. But that doesn’t mean sticking to the city’s top rated Michelin star restaurants is the answer. Although expensive wines and fine china can lend itself to an enjoyable dining experience, sometimes you really only need a bottle of tap water and some chopsticks…and good friends.

Pure Thai Cookhousein Hell’s Kitchen

On the hunt for some of the best Thai in the city, my boyfriend Peter and I scoured over Yelp reviews before finding this gem. It was on the complete opposite side of the island, but we didn’t care. Our friend Hayley was visiting and we weren’t going to take her to some second-rate Murray Hill Thai spot.

A hole in the wall, if I ever saw one. You would literally never pop in if you didn’t know it was there. Once inside, it was packed. Not an open seat in the restaurant. Full of New Yorkers indulging in one of the city’s best kept secrets.

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Without being able to pronounce any item on the menu, we ordered based on what we saw around us. That looks good, what dish is she eating? How about the man next to her? Perfect. I’ll have that.

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We started with an order of Steamed Fresh Rolls, stuffed with crab meat, pork sausage, cucumber, smoked tofu, and drizzed with tamarind reduction; as well as an order of Chicken Curry Puffs, puff pastries filled with caramelized chicken, onion, sweet potato, and cucumber relish.

For our main course, we all tried one of the Pure Thai Noodle dishes, all made in house from a “prized family recipe”. On the left, Peter went with Ratchaburi Crab & Pork Dry Noodles, handmade egg noodles, with roasted pork, lump crab meat, yu choy, and scallion. Hayley, on the top right, went for a spicier option, Sukhothai Pork Noodles Soup, thin rice noodles, with roasted pork, long beans, bean sprouts, peanuts, and dried shrimp in a pork broth. Finally, I opted for Nakorn-Patom Duck Noodles Soup, thin rice noodles, with braised duck meat, asian celery, and bean sprouts in a five spice soy broth.

There was no shame when we ate our food. Perfectly cooked noodles hanging from our mouths, with the broth dripping into our bowls below. No one judged, because we were too busy devouring the food.

My dish was so unlike anything I had ever had. Noodle soup. Similar to the Asian dishes I was used to, but added to a flavor-packed broth. The duck was tender, the broth just salty enough, and the mix of vegetable melded together nicely, rounding out the dish.

It was delicious…

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…and only $20 a person (with tip)!

Good food doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. To us it was about the experience. Pure Thai Cookhouse (like the name eludes) won our vote with its authenticity, from the food down to the ambiance.

Bamboo tables and secret family recipes beat out fancy place settings and Michelin stars this time around.

xoxoelenamichelle-200

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