When I first tried Thai food in college, it was an eye-opening experience. The spice and flavor was nothing like I’ve had before, definitely different from East Asia I was being used to at that time. The intensity of Thai food that heavily employs cilantro and coconut, however, became an integral part of my eating experience such that nowadays I have to get my fix of Thai food at least a couple of times every month; by contrast, and somewhat shockingly, I can go on for at least a couple of months without eating Korean food. Thankfully, my girlfriend shares the same love for the addictive flavor to Thai cuisine. For our last meal together of the year, we decided to check out Fish Cheeks, a new Thai restaurant from chef brothers who used to work at the famed Nahm in Bangkok before opening this modest space in NoHo. Overall, we enjoyed most of the food from Fish Cheeks.
Fish Cheeks’ rather concise menu focuses on a lot of seafood. Generally, I like to have chicken, pork or other meat items in my Thai dishes, but this time I didn’t mind because there was no single bad dish we had. Shrimp with lime juice, garlic, chili and mint was quite fresh without any fishy sensation that you may encounter from raw seafood, and the mixture underneath the shrimp was quite intense, in a good way. I really loved the grilled pork accompanied by roasted rice, shallot, scallion, cilantro and chili. This namtok pork salad had very nice balance of flavor (on the more sweet than spicy side) that was simply perfect for an appetizer before proceeding to the main courses.
I’ve had a very high expectation for coconut crab curry, and while the curry meat had nice texture, I wished the curry itself had a bit less seasoning (i.e. it felt a bit saltier than my girlfriend and I had hoped) while focusing more on the spicy side in flavor. On the other hand, I couldn’t really find fault with the steamed blue fish with Thai herbs that is placed inside a fish-shaped pot. The fish was not only more or less steamed perfectly for great texture (which got even better over time with the addition to heat underneath the pot), but I also appreciated that the seasoning was kept at minimal level. For dessert, we enjoyed Thai tea panna cotta that was quite delightful without being overly sweet.
Getting a reservation at Fish Cheeks seems pretty manageable, but the dining space is not that large so might be a good idea to always book in advance. There was nothing too special about the cozy dining space, which was a bit on the louder side than I would’ve preferred. For casual dates or get-togethers with friends, it will certainly do. There is full bar with Thai-inspired cocktails on the menu to complement your meal. Fish Cheeks offers some very solid Thai seafood options, so if you need that quick fix for Thai food every once in a while like I do, I do recommend checking it out.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 55 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012
Telephone: (212) 677-2223