Larb Ubol is a brand-new Thai spot on 9th Avenue, though to astute Thai food lovers, it may seem oddly familiar.
That's because, as Eating in Translation reports, the chef is an old hand in New York: Ratchanee Sumpatboon, most recently of the East Village's Zabb Elee, and she's brought her fiery brand of Isan Thai food with her.
A recent visit yielded an array of great chopped meat salads and fierce som tum, but even better was this Pad Ped Moo Krob ($11), too often a sweet throwaway stir fry with uninteresting pork and bland Thai eggplant.
But not here, where the pork is meaty portions of belly, cooked in fat until plenty crisp but not chewy—with plenty of crackly skin on for good measure. There's that bland, crunchy eggplant, but it's sliced thin and enveloped by sauce. And there's the curry paste itself, bursting with fresh ginger and herbs, lashed with chili and green peppercorn heat, with a gentle sweetness that hits you in layers.
I haven't had a bad bite at Larb Ubol, but this blew everything else away.