Ugly Baby

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92 Excellent

Brooklyn’s — if not New York’s — best Thai restaurant.

407 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY, 11231


Known For

The lowdown

At first you think that the entire dining room has a cold. But then you notice that the dazed expressions, pervasive eye-tearing, and rampant nose-blowing are accompanied by the telltale flush and trickle of perspiration that can only signify serious, wanton capsaicin consumption. Yes, heat freaks, Ugly Baby is Thai-spicy. It’s also the domain of chef Sirichai Sreparplarn, who first won a following at Red Hook’s short-lived Kao Soy and Chiang Mai. His single-page menu is a streamlined selection of dishes drawn from all over Thailand, some of which you probably haven’t encountered before: a first sweet, then hot mushroom-pineapple curry with fragrant lime leaves and thin planks of tofu; sea bream with a turmeric-and-garlic rub that’s scraped off before the fish is deep-fried, fried separately, then reapplied like frosting on a cake; mini-muffin-like coconut-milk cakes embedded with black beans and taro, slicked with tamarind-chile sauce, and scattered with crushed peanuts. What makes Ugly Baby truly great is the extent to which everything feels like a pure manifestation of its chef-owner’s taste and personality, from the thoughtful wine list, comprising grapes and blends attuned to the cuisine’s complex flavor palette, to the steadfast refusal to compromise dishes by adjusting spice levels. If you can’t stand the heat, this isn’t the kitchen for you.

Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite

What you need to know

DrinksBeer and Wine

Noise LevelCivilized