Jean-Georges Brings Thailand Home
The two standout moments of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's latest trip to Bangkok were judging the Miss Universe pageant and checking out the curries at a six-table restaurant with no front door. (The dining room opened directly onto the street.) After a seminal two years in Bangkok in the early 1980s as the executive chef at The Oriental and 25 years of visiting Thailand as often as he can from his home base in New York City, Vongerichten still finds the Southeast Asian country an inexhaustible source of inspiration—both for his cookbooks (there's an Asian tome in the works with longtime collaborator Mark Bittman) and his restaurant empire (16 and still growing with the newest, Perry St., just opened in one of the three Richard Meier towers in Manhattan's West Village). The sampling of recipes here is like a scrapbook of Vongerichten's career as a chef devoted to Thai cooking. He first served the charred lamb salad with crunchy carrots and bean sprouts at Vong in Manhattan in 1992; he put both the papaya, cashew and frisée salad and the lobster and pea shoots seasoned with a gingery butter on the menu at Spice Market, which opened last year in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. He's still experimenting with the curries. They're not on any of his menus yet. Maybe when he opens restaurant No. 17.
Perry St., 176 Perry St., New York City; 212-352-1900.