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Up Thai Gets Two Thumbs Up

For Asian cuisine in NYC, it’s always a tough decision between a chic space and fiery curry, but I recently discovered a spot that offers both: the Upper East Side's Up Thai.

For excellent Asian cuisine in NYC, I usually seek out dark, hole-in-the-wall joints—the ones that make up what they lack in sophisticated ambience with bold flavors and authentic recipes. It’s always a tough decision for me to choose between a chic space and fiery curry, but I recently discovered an Upper East Side spot that offers the best of both worlds. Meet Up Thai, a 70-seat restaurant on Second Ave. and 73rd St. with a focus on serving genuine Thai street food in a romantic setting. Given the gorgeous décor of stained-glass lamps dangling artfully from the ceiling, brick beautifully exposed behind dark plastered walls and ivy-lined trellises offering intimacy to the dining room, I hadn’t expected the curries, fried rice and noodle dishes to be as delicious as they were during my two visits. My meat-eating friends raved about the peanut sauce-drenched chicken satay and pineapple fried rice topped with ground pork, while I loved the explosive ginger flavor of the Pad Khing tofu and veggie sauté. The orange-hued massaman curry (potato, onion, carrot, string beans and tofu in a peanut and coconut milk gravy) also came with an unexpected avocado garnish, adding a mild, buttery note to an otherwise fragrant, spicy dish. The serving size was plenty for two, but my dining partner and I still craved more of the rich sauce over rice when we finished because it was so good. With friendly, attentive service and such a stunning environment to match the incredible food, there’s no question why I’ve sought out the restaurant twice in the last two weeks—and why I’ll likely return again soon.

Up Thai, 1411 Second Ave., 212.256.1199, www.upthainyc.com