The dramatic, industrial-chic space in which the new Thai restaurant Samui is located is just the first of the surprises that greeted my dinner companion and myself when we went to the eatery recently.
Located on a largely residential block in Fort Greene just a stone’s throw from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the restaurant – which opened on August 17 – welcomes diners in with a brightly colored, geometric-patterned façade, and features a menu that highlights both well-known and less familiar dishes in a way that expands Brooklyn’s Thai culinary lexicon.
To begin, we savored several of the elegantly prepared appetizers, arranged on a sampler platter perfect for two diners ($25). These included the crispy blue potato fritters with sprightly and refreshing cucumber relish, batter-encased chicken puffs, tightly furled crispy vegetable rolls, triangular samosas stuffed with densely flavored carrots, potatoes and peas that have been cooked down, and crispy on the exterior, double-cooked chicken wings that – in common with virtually everything we tasted – sang with flavor.
We also enjoyed the Steamy Edamame ($5), which were almost smoky-tasting, rich with the flavor of sesame oil and lime, and the luscious curry-infused Chicken Satay with Peanut Cucumber Relish ($9), sweet and spicy at once.
We shared two main dishes – the Short Rib Massamun Curry ($22), meltingly tender beef in a curry sauce fragrant with sweet spices, topped with a cinnamon stick and studded with potato chunks and star anise, as well as Samui’s recreation of one of the most well-known Thai dishes, Pad Thai ($14) with shrimp. The latter was served encased in an edible bowl made of very thin omelets, garnished with finely chopped peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, ribbons of pepper, coriander leaves and a wedge of lime.
To wash everything down, we drank a sparkling passion fruit beverage ($5) as well as lychee soda ($5) – both light and refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to the complex flavors in the food.
We finished up with a traditional Thai dessert, Mango and Sticky Rice Coconut Cream ($8) which combined fresh fruit slices with a dense mound of sweet rice sprinkled with sesame seeds and garnished with mint, which Samui owner A Napadol says is the eatery’s most popular dessert.
Like everything that preceded it, the dessert is a modern take on traditional Thai cuisine, said Napadol, who said she reinvented many of the dishes to freshen them. The result is a dining experience that is more authentic, she went on, compared to other Thai restaurants which, she said, often “Americanize” the offerings.
Napadol described herself as a “born chef,” learning at her grandmother’s side from the time she was a young girl. To that inborn culinary instinct, she added a commitment to healthful, clean cooking, utilizing organic chicken, wild or organic salmon and grass-fed beef in dishes that are all made to order.
“We work hard to make sure the customer is not just happy, but very happy,” Napadol stressed.
15 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 12-4 p.m. (brunch) and 5:30-midnight
Sunday, 12-4 p.m. (brunch), 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Delivery through Uber and Grubhub