Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

It’s fitting for my last Dish of the Year for 2016 to be a surprising and bold dish. All the food at Fish Cheeks is full-on. The new and ultra-trendy Thai restaurant is much more than it seems. The food is from a young Thai chef who is focusing on seafood dishes from around Thailand.

A specials board also lists a promise: “No Pad Thai Zone.” This means you can be assured that the food is authentic and quite spicy.

We tried quite a few dishes on our trip to Fish Cheeks. The now infamous Crab Curry is loaded with bird chiles and delicate chunks of jumbo lump crab. In addition to being creamy and fiery, it also has a complex herbal quality from betel leaves. We were also impressed with both the presentation and delicate flavor on the Tom Yum Goong soup – loaded with mushrooms, shrimps, herbs, and aromatic leaves.

But amazingly, it was a non-seafood dish that really shook us up – in a good way. Namtok pork is a spicy meat salad, similar to larb. The spicy pork here was grilled and caramelized and oh so juicy. It soaks up (and imparts its own) flavor on the herbs and spices like cilantro, shallots, and scallions. The salad also has some roasted rice for texture and a generous dusting of chili.

It was the kind of surprising dish that kept me interested in 2016. I’ll be thinking about it well into the new year and urge people to try the seafood, yes, at Fish Cheeks, but also don’t miss the pork too. Price: $14

FISH CHEEKS
55 Bond Street (between Bowery and Lafayette Street),
Noho
(212) 677-2223
fishcheeksnyc.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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