Qi Esarn Thai Kitchen (formerly Qi) celebrates the fragrant, bold flavors of the North Eastern region of Thailand with menus designed by chefs Pichet Ong and Claire Handleman. I was invited sample their fare when the restaurant recently re-opened.

Chef Claire (formerly of ABC’s The Chew) developed her palate cooking in Thailand, where she mastered the skill to layer and balance Thai ingredients and spices. She uses the Esarn region’s profile of flavors that includes fresh herbs and spices, hot peppers, fermented ingredients, tangy sour citrus notes.

Pichet Ong — whose career has taken him from fine French cuisine back to his Thai roots — brings both traditional dishes, as well as his trademark whimsy to the Esarn menu. He had been named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Arts & Design and Chocolatier, was selected as a “Pastry Provocateur” by Food & Wine and in 2002, he was named Starchefs.com’s “Rising Star.”

Although many others at the table indulged, I realized that I’m not as adventurous as I used to be as the dug-darr Gub Thuggatan Tohd were placed on the able — that’s fried silk worms and grasshoppers.

Some menu items that I did sample included curry puffs (pastry filled with chicken, potatoes, onions and curry)  Yahm Kor Mooh Yahng (a pork neck salad iwth spicy dipping sauce); Neua Namtok (a tamarind-marinated grilled hanger steak salad with mint, scallions), Mooh Pingh (grilled pork skewers in coriander Esarn herbs & coconut marinate, spicy tamarind dipping) , Goong Pao Yahm Pollamai (grilled tiger prawn with Thai gooseberries sun-dried shrimps, tamarind, mixed fruits, tomatoes, cashew nuts, peanuts and toasted coconut) and many more that I’d recommend you stopping by to try.
– bonnie

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Qi Esarn Thai Kitchen
31 West 14th St.

Qi Esarn Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon