Somewhere around minute 30 of standing in line at this reservationless, signless, basement-level restaurant, a churlish thought might strike: All this for Thai food? To pay $45 per person and sit on a stool?
Suppress that thought and persevere. What awaits you is to your average Thai restaurant as Cirque du Soleil is to community theater. Chef/owner Johnny Monis—who is also behind our number-two restaurant, Komi (page 64)—is a hands-on presence, which means you can expect much the same vigilance as at his fine-dining restaurant upstairs.
The seven-course, family-style menu changes weekly and shows off first-rate meats and produce (when was the last time a cucumber smelled like anything?) and spices that are nearly drug-like in their potency. If the cooking transports you to the rugged terrain of northern Thailand, where Monis and his wife and business partner, Anne Marler, were married in 2011, the rest of the experience—electric-green walls, a staff decked out in thick-framed glasses, twanging bluegrass on the sound system—channels the vibe of a hipster party, both stylized and determinedly low-key. Don’t miss: Recent standouts have included chili relish for bundling in rice and herbs; minced pork with lemongrass and sawtooth; catfish with galangal and kaffir lime; and pork ribs marinated in Mekhong whiskey.
Open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Expensive.