Times critic Pete Wells joins in the chorus of praise for Carroll Gardens restaurant Ugly Baby — giving two stars to the restaurant after finding that the dishes come out quick, cheap, and delicious.
Chef Sirichai Sreparplarn opened the 20 seat restaurant a 407 Smith Street in August, his first solo venture after working at Kao Soy and pop-up Chiang Mai. Since then, it’s been swamped with locals, with word and reviews that say the spicy fare brings a new level and depth of Thai cuisine to New York.
In his review, Wells finds that some of the dishes now rank among the best Thai dishes in New York, including the kao tod nom klook (rice salad) and the kang kua (a mushroom pineapple curry). Of the latter he notes:
The menu terms it a mushroom pineapple curry, but you will get a sharper idea if you picture mushroom slices and squares of pressed tofu paddling around in a creamy yellow sauce of crushed pineapple and coconut milk. You can see the lime leaves that flavor it, but you only taste the lemongrass, galangal, chiles and other complications.
Another is a kao tod nom klook, a warm rice salad with roots in Laos. The rice is cooked with a dry curry and a nontrivial quantity of chiles, then seared to imprint a chewy, golden crust on it. Stirred with short bits of long beans, cilantro, mint, peanuts and, crucially, some tangy pink crumbles of fermented pork sausage, it performs best when wrapped in lettuce with a basil leaf, a dried chile and anything else you happen to discover on the plate.
He also highlights the fried coconut cakes called tue ka ko, though he did not like rice pudding with durian dessert. Two stars.