Delivery File #5: Thai 86 Cafe (8619 5th Avenue)
Thai food can go one of two ways: mediocre or over-the-moon tasty. I have not had terrible Thai, but “mediocre” is sufficiently damning, because so many Thai places put out quality products. This was my first time trying Thai 86 Cafe—and it might have overtaken our usual pair of go-to places.
Being adventurous with a delivery order can lead to intense sadness. When you decide to have food delivered, you are typically already ready to eat because it took you so long to decide where to order from! If you get something unpleasing, you can be left with an empty spot in your stomach that really wished you had just stuck with an old, trustworthy standby. Writing these delivery reports gives me a little room to challenge my taste buds, and Thai 86 allowed me to do just that while still getting standard fare.
We ordered Galangal coconut soup (Tom Kha soup), fried spring rolls with pork, chicken pad Thai (I had to, right?) and spicy pork belly with Chinese broccoli. The bill was a manageable $32, and the delivery came in exactly 30 minutes, hot, with rice, napkins and chopsticks. (We should start putting such restaurants in an elite 30/30 club?)
The coconut soup, if it was the only thing that arrived, would have made me very happy. It’s sweet and spicy, creamy with chunks of red bell peppers and shredded chicken. This is the kind of soup that will comfort me in colder months. The spring rolls were better than usual, with a succulent filling of pork and mushroom, and they went well with the soup, bite-for-bite. The pad Thai, surprisingly, was a real standout. Pad Thai is the most commonplace of Thai dishes, and I really ordered it to provide a frame of reference more than because of a real desire to try it. Thai 86 Cafe delivers a huge portion with ample pieces of chicken, stir-fried rice noodles, scallions, peanuts and sprouts.
I was most excited to try the spicy pork belly, and I wasn’t disappointed. The most savory dish that we ordered, it elevated the dishes that surrounded it. Perfectly cooked Chinese broccoli with fresh chili (dubbing this spicy may be a little of a stretch) and small chunks of pork belly mixed in. The pork belly was cooked exceptionally well and, aside from a couple of chewy pieces that we decided were inedible, I found this to be an item I would love to try again. The skin was crisp, and the meat was moist and sharply flavored with salt and chili.