Note: This is a review under chef Ian Chalermkitticha, who has since left the restaurant. Ty Bellingham is his replacement.
My friend and I had dinner at Kittichai on Friday night. The Thai-inspired cuisine is artfully presented by executive chef, Ian Chalermkitticha, for whom the restaurant is named. The décor is spectacular, but it doesn’t upstage the food, which is uniformly successful.
The menu is divided into several categories: appetizers ($7–19), soups ($8–10), vegetarian ($6–14), curries ($19–24), fish & shellfish ($24–28), poultry & meat ($22–25), and sides ($3–7). Every dish we saw, on our table and others, came on a differently-shaped plate or bowl. At Kittichai, presentation is part of the game. Most dishes are suitable for sharing.
I started with the Meing Tuna Tartare ($10), which comes with eight small round pastry shells that would normally be used for petits-fours—the menu calls them “limestone tartlets”—each holding a small peanut. An ample portion of tuna comes spiced with ginger and lime. One at a time, you spoon a mouthful of tuna into one of the tartlets; eat and repeat. It was one of the most clever appetizers I’ve had in a long time.
My friend started with the Crispy Rock Shrimp ($13), which came in a grilled eggplant and palm sugar-tamarind sauce. She pronounced them terrific; I tasted one, and fully concurred.
For the main course, I had the Baked Chilean Sea Bass ($28). The menu describes the marinade as “yellow salted beans with morning glory,” which isn’t very helpful. Frank Bruni’s description, “divinely moist Chilean sea bass under a caramelized sheen of palm sugar and red curry paste,” is more apt. My friend had the Dry Spice Rub Duck Breast ($25). Once it arrived, a server brushed on a decadent pinapple broth tableside. It was perfectly tender and came with a side of crispy leg confit.
The wine list didn’t have much to do with Thailand. It was over-priced in relation to the entrée and appetizer prices, with not many reds below $50.
Kittichai (60 Thompson Street between Spring and Broome Streets, SoHo)