Before there was a Mr.Donahues, there was Uncle Boons. The mastermind husband and wife duo first made their splash in Manhattan through this Thai eatery. A while ago a wise chef told me that Uncle Boons was his favorite restaurant in the city. I trusted this chef as his food is delicious (shoutout to Bergen Hill) however it took me some time to actually go. When I finally walked into this deceivingly small looking restaurant in Nolita, steps away from Mr.Donahues, we were told there was a 2 hour wait; you can only make reservations here for parties six and larger. Luckily two seats opened at the bar while we were contemplating whether we could wait two hours. We grabbed them without a second thought. Afterall there is a reason there was a two hour wait. You are able to order the full menu at the bar and we went to town. Every spice, every sliced vegetable in every dish was well thought out and brilliantly executed. The ambience, the decor and the outfits are not a gimmick. You will be transported to Thailand and the food simply elevates that experience. Expect a lot of chilies, peanuts, mango, coconut milk in dried spices and savory curries. Put it all together and you get an outstanding flavor profile. I am grateful for having taken the advice to go to Uncle Boons. It is among my top 5 restaurants in NYC.
1. Yum Mamoung (green mango salad with avocado, cripsy squid, peanuts, lime & chilies)- If you like sweet, savory with hints of tart in your salad then this salad is your dream come true. The dried squid and grilled peanuts adds smokiness and crispiness to the entire dish.
2. Mieng Kum (betel Leaf with ginger, lime, toasted coconut, dried shrimp, chilies & peanuts traditional thai snack)- Betel leaf is hard to find in NYC. I've been looking for this dish since I first had it in San Francisco. If you've never had it then let your first time be at Uncle Boons. You will be amazed at how something so simple as a leaf can pack so much flavor. Also I LOVE foods that you can scoop and dip. They always taste better!
3. Kai Yang Muay Thai (half chicken with dipping sauces and green mango salad)- I love this tender chicken dish in a coconut based curry with aromatic leaves. The addition of the wontons on top of the chicken adds crispiness and some saltiness which, I enjoyed a lot. Order a side of sticky rice and you'll be left to crave this dish for days.