Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Qi Thai Grill

before the Shout Out Louds show on Monday night, Priya and I joined Katie for dinner at Qi Thai Grill. we were excited to try it because it has a connection with Sripraphai, our favorite Thai spot in Queens.
Qi definitely spent a ton of money decorating the place and I guess is hoping it becomes a trendy nightspot. That doesn't really help my impression but it doesn't hurt, I guess.
It was fairly empty at 8pm on a chilly Monday and we didn't need the reservations we made. They've been open for some time now but there still some weird service confusion sort of like I'd read about on Yelp. Nobody came to take our drink orders for 15+ minutes even though the restaurant was dead and finally the waitress came over and we ordered the whole meal + drinks. Five minutes later a waiter came over and asked if we were ready for our drink orders. I'm gonna ascribe that to the fact that the third and final member of our party came in about a minute after we sat down and so maybe, even though they seated her and we had a rez for 3, they thought we still had someone coming. I don't know. The rest of the service was fine so no big deal.
we got:

MANGO SOFT SHELL CRAB with a side of shredded mango salad. The crab was superb, super crispy/breaded, and went great with the mildly spicy mango salad. Served over, like, mesclun greens, which was odd.

Three grilled chunks, nice flavor, dipping sauce.

Tasty, moderately spicy. They somewhat fell victim to the trap of shitty Buffalo wings at many places...you have to deep-fry the wings until they are incredibly crispy and then sauce 'em, so they're simultaneously crispy and soaking through. These didn't have much breading, though the blackened edges from barbecuing helped. Pok Pok's are better, and I would have liked them to be markedly spicier.

Quite good, not really my thing, but nice.

A real disappointment. Som tam has to be incredibly spicy, really fishy, and markedly sweet, all working in tandem. I tasted almost no fishiness and certainly didn't see any crushed-up dried shrimp; it was not spicy at all; it wasn't even especially sweet, though that was the only flavor I detected. It was mostly crunchy. A good quantity, I guess, and also weirdly served over mesclun greens.

This was pretty decent; not really what I usually order at Thai places, and not great like Sripraphai's curries, but better than your run-of-the-mill Thai place.

This...was excellent. It would have been straight-up GREAT if it had been fiery. As it was, it had barely any heat. I ate every green pepper on the plate and still got almost nothing out of it. The flavor was great, the texture was great...I would get it again in a heartbeat. But it fell short from being a "go here to get this dish" dish entirely because of the lack of spiciness.

As you can tell, a common failing of these dishes was a real mildness. We didn't ask for any special mildness, and we were never asked how spicy we wanted stuff, so we got it as it's served normally. This is a huge failing for a Thai restaurant. It should be really spicy unless patrons beg for the spice to be lowered, especially dishes like som tam that are awful without heat. I will probably eat here again, and next time I will demand spiciness, but I don't really have high hopes for getting it, and I really shouldn't have to.

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