Zabb Elee - Interrupt

>> Sunday, January 13, 2013

Date of Dining: 10/4/2012
Price: $6-11 per dish
Location: 75 2nd Ave. New York, NY, 10003

The Quick Bit

+ extended tasty interpretations of Thai favorites
+ bargain prices

While visiting New York City, it is a great opportunity to try some other ethnic cuisines. As the spicy flavors of Thai cuisine are among my favorites, I knew I had to find one of the city's best Thai restaurants.
Zabb Elee opened its East Village location during the summer of 2011 and quickly became one of the city's leading restaurants. Many critics hail quality of the cuisine. When I found the Serious Eats review of the restaurant, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to try and compare with my favorite San Diego Isan style cuisine. 

som tum muazuar - papaya, shrimp, bbq pork, rice noodle, tomato, long bean
The som tum muazuar is Zabb Elee's take on papaya salads. Rather than making simple papaya salads, these are the super deluxe version, containing elements of an entire meal, while retaining the papaya and sauce as the base. By adding the savory elements of grilled meats, the already well-made papaya salad gets elevated to a greater level. I especially enjoyed the fried pork skin as they really took the dish over the top in both flavor and texture. The sauce had a tangy balance of sour, sweet, and spicy - emphasizing all the flavors within the dish.
After eating this papaya salad, my expectations for the dish have been raised to an incredible level. When I tasted this dish, I felt as if I was on some hidden camera show where the chef had been replaced by a Michelin caliber chef as the food was so amazing.

gang som - bamboo shoot, papaya, shrimp, sweet lime juice
After the som tum, any dish following would have a lot to live up to. The gang som brought my expectations back to reasonable levels. The dish was well prepared as the contrast of the earthy crunchiness of the bamboo with the sweetness of the papaya accentuated the shrimp. The sauce also acted reasonably curry-like due to the sweetness from the papaya. 

pla muk yang - grilled squid with garlic pepper lime dip
The squid was grilled to perfection and seasoned well. The squid was not overly chewy and served as a great platform for the dipping sauce, which was fantastic. The fish sauce mixed with the garlic, peppers, and lime was a great vehicle for highlighting the flavors of Thai cuisine.


Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Zabb Elee. I wished that I had the opportunity to order more dishes. I felt that the cuisine at Zabb Elee was loyal to the authentic Thai flavors, while reaching out to establish where the cuisine can evolve in the future.
Zabb Elee gets the kilobit award for such great execution and creativity. I highly recommend that you visit while in New York and craving some Thai.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
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