Mon-Sat, 11:30am-11pm; Sun, noon-11pm
6, J, N, Q, R, Z to Canal St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Chambers St. to Bleecker St., Allen St. to Sixth Ave.
Nestled between Soho and Chinatown, this restaurant attracts a New Yorkish mix of Soho-type day workers and entire Chinese families. All love the decoration: dazzling, backlit petunias, violets, and other flowers pressed in acrylic and framed, and white-and-silver embossed plaques illustrating scenes from the Ayutthaya, Thonburi, and Rattanakosin periods of Thailand's history. Thai cuisine is founded on the principle of mixing sweet, sour, salty, and bitter sensations in each mouthful, and Thai Angel's cooking boldly reflects that. Among the yum salads, the best is larb, a minced pork dish whose Northeast Thailand cooking style reflects the influence of bordering Laos through lime, chili, and mint; its bracing citrus kick is heightened by the chilies' heat. Though there's no shortage of noodle specials, rice plates, and stir-fries, dishes using shrimp, fish, and soft-shell crab take up a large portion of the menu. Exotic Shrimp are juicy, cooked in a red and tangy chili-based sauce typical of cooking in the southern Thai countryside. Panang curry duck, utilizing a sauce from the Nakhon Si Thammarat province, pleasingly balances crisp deep-fried duck fat with the sauce of kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, and coconut milk. The most common Northeast Thailand dessert is also the most winning: mango with sticky rice, topped with coconut milk, sesame seeds, and salt.Recommended Dishes
Panang curry duck, $14.95; exotic shrimp, $14.95