8510 4th Ave (85th St & 86th St)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 333-5811
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: Bay Ridge
Having tried a number of Thai restaurants in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, the dishes often taste homogenized, bordering on dull. It's as if all of the life had been squeezed out them. Gone is the heat one might find at places like Pam Thai in Hell's Kitchen. That is until I stumbled upon Top Thai. The shop is very small. In fact, if you blink you would probably miss it. It's located near the busy shopping district on 86th Street along 4th Avenue. While it has the look and feel of Chinese take-out joint, don't let the looks fool you. Top Thai is top notch and its food is best eaten in, instead of taken out.
Start with some steamed dumplings ($6.95). These light, pillowy pockets are filled with bits of shrimp and served with a tasty soy vinaigrette. Crispy crab rolls are different than I had envisioned. Spiced crab is wrapped in layers of bean curd and deep fried. Its served with a skewered cucumber and tomato on top with a sweet sauce. You will also find an assortment of satays, shrimp rolls and curried fish cakes.
But the most sought after dishes, in my book, are the ones stamped with a chili pepper (or two) on the menu. Som Tum ($5.95) is one of them. It is also a dish I could live on during the summer months. It's a salad piled high with thin strips of green papaya, crisp green beans, bits of tomato, peanuts and slivers of red chili peppers in a tangy Thai lime dressing. The chef is more than willing to pile on the heat if asked, and you should. What you are left with is the coolness of the vegetables, the heat from the chilies and the crunch of the peanuts. It hits all of your senses at once and makes you feel alive.
Larger plates are made with your choice of fish, beef, seafood or duck. The sweet-and-sour duck ($15.95) is nice and crispy served in a pungent sauce packed with sauteed pineapple, scallion, bell peppers and cucumber. Unfortunately, it does not hold up as well when ordered to go. Top Thai also boasts seven different curries, including one called Jungle Curry, and traditional noodle dishes like Pad Thai.
Review By: Thomas Rafael