If you’re trying to live responsibly, you usually have to choose between two things you want to buy. Which is why you might have either a gym membership or a Classpass account, but probably not both. Or why your parents made you put back the Twister board in the toy store after you already decided on a pack of baseball cards. Taladwat is a Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen where you are free from having to make such an existential choice. Here, it’s both economical and encouraged for everyone to get at least two dishes, which is great news, because this is a place where you want to try as much of the menu as possible.
Taladwat’s menu is built around an $22 “pick and mix” ($16 at lunch) option, which comes with two generously-sized entrees and jasmine or red rice. That means you can bring a date or some friends, order one “pick and mix” per person, and end up with the kind of deluxe feast that production assistants dread staging in shows about royal families.
While its neighborhood older sibling restaurant by the same owners (Pure Thai) is best known for its noodle dishes, at Taladwat most of your food will come in the form of a stew or curry. Although you won’t be forced to settle on any one dish, you will have to make some choices here. Unless you bring your extended family, which actually isn’t a bad idea. For first time visitors, our ideal pick and mix order starts with the pork belly in a caramel-like stew, and the turmeric chicken - it’s served on the bone and then proceeds to fall off of it as soon as you start eating. After that, try the creamy sour vegetable curry and the limey, diced chicken that’s as destined to be in a lettuce cup as Serena Williams’ daughter is to be on her school’s tennis team.
Ignore the ceiling and windows, and Taladwat’s space feels like an outdoor patio in a made-up place where it’s always a 72 degree summer night and no one is worried about climate change or work the next day. There are lines of Thai flags and string lights hanging across the ceiling, and groups of twos and fours sitting at communal picnic tables. While you won’t have a back to your seat, you will have a jar of very spicy homemade chili fish sauce all to yourself.
Unlike your Classpass vs. gym membership dilemma, Taladwat falls in the pretty elusive category of situations where you can get both things you really want. Like a reversible jacket, or tickets to both nights of Hootie & The Blowfish at MSG. So use Taladwat in your everyday life, and you’ll feel like you’re the kind of person who gets both things you want, whenever you want.
If you’re only ordering two things and you also like to eat pork, this is absolutely unmissable. It has a thin caramel-y broth, two different types of tender pork, and a hard boiled egg.
The next time you have a night where you do nothing but sit on your couch, you’ll probably want to eat this curry. It’s creamy, hearty, and pretty spicy - mostly because of the massive chunks of red and green chili peppers.
One of the most complex-tasting dishes here, you’ll have to take a second to process everything that’s going on in this bowl. There’s sourness, a slow build of spice, some greens that somehow still taste like vegetables even though they’ve been bathing in pork belly sauce. Again, if you eat pork, this is another must-order.
Every meal at Taladwat is accompanied by a wicker basket of butter lettuce, cilantro, and little cucumbers. We found that our favorite use of the lettuce was as a vehicle for this diced chicken dish - which is very spicy and very limey.
This one is labeled as shrimp basil but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it’s mostly just a pile of saucy eggplant. They should maybe change the name of the dish, but nothing else about it - it’s really good.
This is what you should get if you want beef. It’s basically a thin ginger-y soup with crunchy peanuts and big pieces of short rib in it, and you could definitely drink from the bowl.
The turmeric chicken is on the milder side (also, the menu has pretty reliable pepper icons). The sauce is similar to the tepo pork belly, but slightly sweeter and without the kick. Also, as evidence of how long this has been cooking, you can just check out how the meat falls off the chicken bones.
Sometimes it takes a bowl of simple, nicely salted broccoli and bok choy to remind you that you thoroughly enjoy steamed vegetables. This is that bowl. It’s also a welcome break from the heat and complex flavors of everything else.
This is a $9 option from the add-on section, and a must-order. We once ordered it and our server told us that he eats it everyday for lunch. From what we could gather from that tiny moment, he lives a good life.
Another add-on, and pretty much the only thing we don’t love. Compared to the flavorful dishes here, it’s somewhat boring.