Emily went to Ugly Baby a few times before the big reviews began putting this restaurant on everyone’s list. She kept telling me to go because the food was incredible. Then the onslaught began with people waiting for hours as there are no reservations and only 25 seats. If you live in Carrol Gardens, delivery is always available but for anyone else in the city, you have to get there early or brave the lines.
We were in Brooklyn around 430 on Thursday night and I suggested we go to Ugly Baby early and see if we could get in. There were a few seats taken at 545 and by 620 there was a line. We were there at 545 and sat ourselves down. The room is simple with splotches of oranges, reds, greens and blue paint on the wall. The kitchen is open and towards the back. It is so clean it almost sparkles.
There are 18 things on the menu not including a nice selection of beers. Some of the dishes are noted as spicy which means it is seriously spicy as pretty much everything has heat. We stayed away from the serious heat. People that can handle high levels of heat have trained themselves over the years eating spicy food, unfortunately, we haven’t and the first bite Fred took gave him hiccups.
We had four dishes. The first was Kao Tod Nam Klook which is curried rice with pork skin, peanuts & ginger. The rice comes with all of these things in it and I really like how the peanuts are whole served with pieces of lettuce to wrap the rice in to eat with pieces of basil to add to the wrap. After the first bite, the extreme layers of flavors take over and then pow, your entire mouth is on fire. This dish is incredible if you can stand the heat because if the heat takes over you lose out on how nuances of all the spices. It was a tough dish for us.
This dish was a nice counter-balance. Pad Tua Ngok Rau Kao which is King Bhumibol’s stir-fried bean sprouts with minced pork & tofu. Lots of flavors and pretty much no heat. The crunchiness of the sprouts with the flavor of the pork and softness of the tofu is a good combo.
Khoong Muk Kai Kem which shrimp, squid & salted egg yolk is excellent. The sauce holds tightly to the squid and shrimp because of the egg. Really fresh ingredients and just the right amount of heat. Huge winner. Goes nicely with the white rice they serve on the side. The rice is soft and fluffy and grabs that sauce perfectly. The rice also helps cool off the heat.
Our fourth dish was Gai Golae which is southern style chicken thigh skewers. These are juicy with a light yet layered curry flavor. I could eat this all day long. Perfectly balanced spices.
The food is really good. It is authentic Thai food. Ugly Baby is a name that helps to cause good fortune in Thailand. People refer to their babies as ugly babies with the belief that by not praising their child and calling them ugly that good fortune will come to their baby. The name definitely worked here. Get there early because even at 930 at night, the line can be up to 3 hours. It is the 25 seats that keep the food amazing. The people in the kitchen just keep putting out the same dishes but in small doses and it works.