Land Thai Kitchen
450 Amsterdam Ave.
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 501-8121
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: David Bank
Area: West 80s
Entree Price: $10-15
For a taste of Thai that's a cut above the standard, (yes, your fave Pad Thai and other goodies are here as well), Land delivers. The dining space is long and narrow with a few utensils hung on the walls in a nod to decorating and flattering lighting. Slightly harried waitstaff are pleasant especially as there aren't many of them to take care of all the tables. You sit close to your neighbors but it doesn't matter since the food is good and the prices gentle. Land Thai gets very crowded so it's a good idea to pick a slightly non-traditional eating hour.
The satays, beef or chicken on skewers, are what you'd expect served with classic peanut sauce; calamari is crispy as advertised and veggie dumplings are better than typical with the addition of corn and spinach ($9). Spring rolls feature an unusual medley of root veggies with beets and parsnips served with plum sauce. A two-course prix fixe lunch is yours also for a bargain $9; you might start with the green papaya salad that doesn't stint on chili and move onto the wok basil with beef, also long on chili with a good Thai basil sauce. Pad Thai with shrimp is another second, with thin rice noodles, egg, a generous portion of bean sprouts, tofu, scallion, chopped peanuts and tamarind sauce.
Drunken noodles with chicken have a hit of hot with snow peas, bok choy and tomato over wide wheat noodles. Some dishes are a bit too sweet but happily, chilies get into the game pretty often for a little edge. Duck breast comes with chili jam, asparagus and five spice soy sauce; it's perfectly OK if not overwhelming; Pad See Ew with beef brings flat rice noodles, egg, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower and yellow beans with dark soy sauce that's more "authentic" and a better choice. Among the sides, the spicy potato with chili and scallions is a little out of the box and works; for those who want to drown everything in peanut sauce, more is available for $2. There are lots of lamb, beef and chicken stir fries and good noodle and rice dishes like the slightly off-beat salmon fried rice . You can specify how spicy your palate is set for and more or less get the desired amount of heat. Food here is good but most is Americanized--it's way ahead of most NYC Thai spots but not quite Bangkok.
Most diners at Land aren't heavily into alcohol but beer, some wines and two choices of sake are available--be aware that the plum sake is very sweet. As to real sweets, there is gelato in various flavors and a few other offerings, none remarkable. Coffees and teas are on offer. Major credit cards accepted. Note that the place does a booming delivery biz and that if you have to wait for a table to free up, there's no good place to stand. However, throngs feel it well worth the slightly uncomfortable wait.
Review By: Mari Gold