If traveling to Thailand has been on your bucket list but NYC rent increases make it close to impossible to afford the subway let alone a vacation, Brooklyn’s newest restaurant Rua Thai, which celebrates the famed floating markets of Thailand, is the next best thing.
At Thailand’s floating markets vendors offer food, crafts, and souvenirs from traditional wooden boats afloat on khlongs (canals). And the province of Ratchaburi in central Thailand, where chef and co-owner Kornpon Theeraumpornkul grew up, is home to Damnoen Saduak, one of the largest and most famous floating markets in the country.
Rua (meaning rowboat in Thai) pays homage to the markets and Theeraumpornkul’s family, who sold food like fish curry custard, herbed fish salad, and shrimp donuts at the market and also grew sugarcane–which he likes to incorporate in both the restaurant’s cooking and cocktails.
And at Rua you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported straight to Ratchaburi.
Surround yourself in photos of Thai floating markets covering exposed brick walls, gold leaf lettering that you’d find in Thai temples, and authentic touches like traditional triangle pillows used on daybeds as you settle down into the six-seat bar or one of the tables.
But once you’re settled you’re not going to want to waste any time ordering.
Chef Kornpon combines his restaurant experience with cooking knowledge he learned from his grandmother to put together the most delicious menu that combines family tradition, innovation, and playful presentation.
Highlights include the Fish Curry Custard with minced fish and curry paste steamed in small cups, Panko Shrimp Donuts stacked on a sugarcane stick, Mama Tom Yum Grilled River Prawns served over sautéed tom yum flavored ramen noodles and vegetables, and Kai Tod Had Yai, the most popular southern Thai style fried chicken served with massaman curry dip and roti bread.
To drink, choose one of the cocktails slung together by bartender Dolporn Thongneam. Each cocktail is named after different districts in the Ratchaburi province where Chef Kornpon grew up, including Damnoen Saduak with tequila, elderberry kombucha, and lime, Pho Ta Ram made with vodka, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice, and Chom Bueng, a smoked drink with whisky, honey syrup, lime juice, sour mix, and lemongrass.
Alcohol-free options include the Butterfly Pea Lychee Soda with butterfly pea juice, lychee syrup, and soda.
Rua Thai is located at 204 Smith Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. They’re open daily 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
You can learn more and make reservations on their website.