Following a successful run as a pandemic pop-up earlier this year, homestyle Thai restaurant Thaimee Love, from celebrated chef Hong Thaimee, is settling into a permanent Greenwich Village location at 116 West Houston Street, near Sullivan Street, on October 1.
The cozy, 30-seat restaurant is an expansion on the popular range of homey Thai fare that Thaimee offered at her well-liked pop-up, including yum pooh, or crab salad; crowd-pleasing crispy Chiang Mai fries; and roti ghang kiaw wan ghae, a tender lamb shank braised slowly in green curry and served with Thai eggplant, long chilis, and Thai basil. “I used the pop-up to basically test the market,” the chef says. “If I’m wanting to push the envelope of Thai cooking, would I be well accepted? Turns out, I gained more friends.”
For the permanent shop, Thaimee divided the menu into starters, soups, nahm prik, or chili relishes, and heftier main dishes. The menu was built to be approached family-style, Thaimee says, with one course chosen from each category to share among dining groups. There’s also a $180 tasting menu for two on offer, which will include both dishes on the main menu and unlisted specials.
Through her upscale menu, where most main dishes — including a red curry with duck and lychee, and a Thai herb-infused catfish — are priced between $25 and $40 apiece, she’s aiming to show customers that Thai cooking is deserving of double-digit price tags. “I have all this courage to do this because I want to give the best to my people,” Thaimee says. “This is the way that I would eat at my Thai family house.”
Thaimee Love marks the chef’s first return to full-scale restaurant operations since the closure of her beloved East Village haunt Ngam, which was later renamed Thaimee Table. The restaurant was a smash hit during its seven-year run, garnering critical praise from the New Yorker and the New York Times, among other outlets, but, behind the scenes, “I put my heart and soul into it and lost who I was,” Thaimee says. Now, the chef is bringing more experience and a better understanding of the industry into her next act. “[Thaimee Love] is just a grownup version of a girl who has a dream,” she says. “And she achieved it.”
In addition to Thaimee Love, Thaimee is also running delivery and takeout noodle-and-fried-rice shop Pad Thaimee out of the same kitchen. In November, the chef plans to add one more concept to the Greenwich Village space: Thaimee Blossom, a vegan meal subscription service.
Thaimee Love is open from Wednesday through Sunday, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Reservations can be made by contacting 347-325-2557; or via Resy starting October 6.