NYC James Beard House features Thai Fusion

By Lucy Komisar

The James Beard House is an iconic venue of high-end food events. It is run by a foundation that nurtures and honors American chefs. The house on West 12th Street in Greenwich Village hosts culinary masters who present dinners to members and patrons who enjoy very special dishes and paired wines.

width=252So, I loved this. Nikky Phinyawatana‘s parents sent her from Thailand to Dallas to study English. Later she got a Food & Hospitality Pastry Chef Associate Degree from El Centro College there. Now she has three restaurants in Dallas. She is a member of the “invitation only” Dallas Les Dames d‘Escoffier. And she is featured at a dinner at this event for American chefs!

I went to the James Beard Loy Krathong Full Moon Thai Flavors dinner prepared by Nikky and her husband Tam. In this celebration, the twelfth lunar month, when the full moon lights up the sky, the main rice harvest is over and Thais thank the Water Goddess for it. In the river, you can see thousands of krathongs with flickering candles. If your candle stays lit until the krathong disappears from sight, that means a year of luck.

width=208The hors d‘ouvres downstairs and for those hardy in the chill outside garden looked just like one of those krathongs, wraps in thin leaves with toasted coconut, ginger, peanuts, lime and shrimp. They were paired with rosé, but I chose Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2016. I also warmed up with a memorable Tom Kha galangal coconut broth.

Then up the stairs to a half dozen or so tables. We had Nam Prik Ong, a tomato crudité with braised minced chicken and crispy pork rind. That was set off by a 2014 Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige by Tenuta J. Hofstatter.

width=252So far, note that these dishes are big on flavor and low on calories.

A favorite was Pla Muek Nueng Manao, the stuffed squid, with shrimp and port, chili lime sauce and picked garlic. I was delighted that the wine turned out to be Famille Hugel Riesling, from Alsace. Dry, as Riesling should be.

width=220Then Wagyu beef, short ribs with curry sauce and a spicy blue crab fried rice, green cabbage, Kobucha pumpkin. The beef was buttery soft and tender, with a bit of Thai spice. Along with a light Luigi Bosca Malbec (2014, Lujan de Cuyo D.O.C., Argentina) to set off the heavier body of the meat.

A nice desert, lychee flower jelly, was created with tapioca, mango, coconut rice and coconut palm sauce. The desert wine was Tenimenti Ca ˜Biana Brachetto d‘Acqui, from Piedmont. Too sweet for me, so I chose a Mercury.

width=252The mood was charming, friendly at my table of 8. So was Nikky, who stopped to talk to diners. Nice to go to as a single, as I was, or a couple. And the food non pareil.

James Beard House, 167 W. 12th St, New York, NY 10011. (212) 627-2308.

Nikky‘s Asian Mint restaurants in Dallas are at 75 & Forest Lane, Oak Lawn (previously The Mint) and Inwood Village.

Photos by Lucy Komisar.

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