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Kittichai: Wait, that was Thai cuisine?

When I went to Kittichai years ago with my father, I remember it being delicious, trendy, a hot spot at which I felt swank. However, my dinner last night proves that some restaurants don’t age gracefully.

My second dining experience at the modern Thai restaurant in the Thompson Hotel in Soho was, in one word, miserable. The only salvageable part of the meal was my beautiful and interesting dining companion Laura who managed to thoroughly distract me throughout the ordeal.

Let me walk you through the experience and hopefully I can shed some light on why this particular meal was such a travesty.

To begin with, another bimbo vacant hostess (please read my review of THOR to fully understand my problem’s with some of New York’s hostesses). She was both bitchy and slow along with so skinny I wondered how she walked on those sticks. Needless to say, she got us to our table, 15 minutes late, and left a pretty bad taste in my mouth from the get-go.

Now, the breakdown:

The Scene: tired and done before. It looks like every other over-priced asian fusion ‘hot spot’ that burst on the scene 5 years ago – dark and sexy with waterfalls and flowers. Maybe this was awe-inspiring a couple years back – now, it just seems very old. The crowd was, at its best, trendy young things not old enough to order an alcoholic beverage, and at its worst, trashy trendy wannabes that bordered on a bit tragic.

The Service: Here was my real bugaboo with Kittichai. There was something distinctly off-putting about the service. It was friendly, yet stilted, disorganized, both too fast and too slow, and down-right creepy at times. I counted 5 different people helping us, so I never knew who to ask for something, and when I finally identified our ‘head waiter,’ it did us no good because he would disappear for 15 minutes at a time. Additionally, my friend and I were having a spirited catch-up session that kept being punctuated by our overzealous waiter checking in on us. At one point, about 4-5 minutes after our entrees arrived, I was in the middle of a long (too long) story and was interrupted by our waiter asking if my dish was OK because I had only taken two bites. This wouldn’t have been horribly offensive if he hadn’t snuck up on me and startled me to the extent of actually having me jump out of my chair. Lastly, once we were finished with our course, we would wait for what seemed like ages for our waiter to clear the dishes and at the end of the meal, it took an exceedingly long time to close out. FRUSTRATING.

The Food: I was hopeful that the food would salvage the experience. Not only do I adore Thai food in general but I had an excellent meal here years back. Well, this was NOT Thai. The menu has morphed into something I can’t even put my finger on. There is tapas, fish, hanger steak, chicken breast, salads and soups…not a single curry or noodle dish in sight. Very disappointing!

I ordered the coconut soup and the hangar steak, while my companion opted for the $35 prix-fixe, which included salmon tartare, branzino, and jasmine flan. My coconut soup gets points for presentation as it showed up over a portable flame that kept it piping hot for quite awhile. It was also very savory – the highlight of my meal. The hanger steak was just…strange. It was coated in a chili rub that was both extremely spicy and unusual tasting (in a bad way). I only ate half my steak and left the rest to be wrapped up. My dining buddy thoroughly enjoyed her salmon tartare that came with interestingly shaped tortilla cups in which you could put the tartare. Yet, her branzino was a flop; she described it as “unpleasant” with a “nasty smell.” Yikes!

At this point in the meal, I was ready to go. It was incredibly warm in my seat and the caliber of the cuisine put me in a sour mood. It took us 20-25 minutes after dessert was cleared to find our waiter, ask for the check, receive the check, and pay our bill. Talk about an exhausting end to an evening.

All in all, Kittichai has lost its spark and charm. It is no longer a fresh take on Thai and it is in fact, no longer Thai! I cry false advertising!

This restaurant is going to get an AVOID.

Kittichai on Urbanspoon

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