Almost entirely lacking in reasonable public transportation options (we’ve spent our entire tenure in NYC stanchly avoiding the bus), Red Hook essentially operates as an island unto its own. Which means, it’s got all of the establishments necessary for sustaining that très Brooklyn lifestyle without having to commute under the BQE—including a seafood shack (Red Hook Lobster Pound), a barbecue joint (Hometown), an all-day breakfast joint with weekend karaoke (Hope & Anchor), and a cozy cafe/Thursdays-only tiki bar, currently boasting an all-emoji menu (Fort Defiance).
And while the Pok Pok-ization of the nearby Columbia Waterfront District has granted the area plenty of access to truly top notch Thai, thanks to Kao Soy, the neighborhood now has its own dedicated hotspot for Som Tum, Massaman, and Pad See-Ew.
Owned by a couple of longtime Brooklyn residents, Carlos Padillo and Kanlaya Supachana, the eatery is a welcome replacement for the Van Brunt space’s former tenant; a dingy check cashing depot. Mostly inspired by the cuisine of Supachana’s homeland, Chiang Mai (largely considered to be the cultural capital of northern Thailand, and the city that so inspires Pok Pok’s own Andy Ricker), you can rest assured that the menu pays only passing homage to American-approved favorites, like Chicken Green Curry and Shrimp Pad Thai.
Which means, if you’re in the mood for noodles, best to zero in on the restaurant’s signature dish, Kao Soy, an impressive tumble of both soft and crispy egg noodles and tender chicken drumsticks, balanced in a murky, curry-based, chili oil-laced soup, and crowned with battered curlicues of fried papaya. Other regionally-inspired standouts are grouped under the menu heading “Other,” including Sai-Oua, a pig-tastic feast of spicy, herbaceous sausage served with nuggets of marinated pork, veggie sticks and sticky rice, meant for dunking in a vibrant green chili dip; and Kang Hung Le; a pork belly and top round stew flavored with shallot, garlic and ginger, and served, welcomely enough, with another one of those chewy chicken drumsticks.
Especially now that it’s the icy dead of winter, it’s a comforting, complex potage that residents will be more than grateful not have to cross the BQE for.
283 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook