New Kid in NoLita: Thai Diner

When I saw Thai Diner on Pete Wells’ list of best places that opened while we were all sleeping, I went looking for my own post — and couldn’t find it. I guess I wrote it in my head, and then my head was fogged in by what was the very start of the pandemic. My notes and photos show me there on March 3, 2020, with K., on our regular mission for the best Asian food within walking distance. (We had already hit Uncle Boon’s Sister, Sugarfish, Takeshi and Golden Diner. Thai Diner is 1 mile from Chambers and West Broadway.)

Sadly, Uncle Boons Sister went the way of Uncle Boons — the Thai restaurant opened by chefs Ann Redding and Matt Danzer and celebrated by all. But they have kept the homefires burning at Thai Diner, which should have been their third restaurant but thanks to covid is now their sole.

The decor makes it feel like it’s been there forever — and it has that holiday-festive all year feel. But you are really there for the food, which is exceptional, original and fun.

Just a bit of background: Redding was born in Thailand, and she worked in her mother’s restaurant there. But when the family came to the states she got serious about cooking and studied at the Institute of Culinary Education. She joined the staff at Per Se a few weeks after it opened and met Danzer there. The couple first ran a store and caf√© on Shelter Island, travelling to Thailand in the winters. Uncle Boons was named for Redding’s uncle.

We went with the fried chicken laab, which are crispy chicken nuggets over a refreshing cucumber salad; the stuffed cabbage tom khaa, which is aromatic and has some kick; and the banana pudding with the incredible lotus cookie covering the entire top.

Since we were there, they added an enclosed sidewalk cafe and a sizable curbside structure set up like a diner with booths.

It’s worth the walk.

Thai Diner
186 Mott at Kenmare
Check the website for hours but NB: closed Wednesdays