Qi Thai Grill is touted as a collaboration between Pichet Ong and Sripraphai Tipmaneee. The former seems to be a chef and restaurateur behind a couple of Thai restaurants in Manhattan called Qi Bangkok Eatery and Qi Asian Eatery, and as noted in the website bio, P*ng. Sripraphai Tipmaneee is the Sripraphai behind THE SriPraPhai. The menu seems to be divided between the two chef’s creations- about five small plates from Sri and about eight grilled dishes from Mr. Ong. Actually, the rest of the menu may be from him as well. It’s not really clear.
I’ve been a couple of times now, principally because I was interested in the connection to Sripraphai in Woodside, which is one of the cornerstones in my restaurant rotation. The dish I’ve enjoyed twice (from the Sri part of the menu) is the Spicy Pork Trotter /w Fresh Herbs, called “Kee Mao Kah Mooh”. I believe this means like “Drunken Pork Leg”. It’s basically a riff on the ubiquitous stewed pork leg dishes you see in Thailand like the one with mustard greens or what is called “Sautéed Pork Leg with chili, basil, garlic” at Sripaphai. This rendition gets a kick of spice from jalapenos, the usual Thai basil and chili sweet soy sauce, and most interestingly a boost of herbal pepperiness from strings of green peppercorns. Nice balance of Thai tastes, along with interesting textural chunks of meat and collagen…From the same section of the menu I also tried the Spicy Beef Tendon Salad Larb Enn. It’s a solid rendition of larb from the balance and texture profile, though typically tame on the offal/funkiness scale…The Mango Soft-shell crab Yahm Puu Nihm is Sri carryover dish of fried soft shell with a mint, red onion, lime, shredded mango “sauce” (the pretty famous A-15 menu item if you are a Sri regular). It’s the same dish as far as I could tell, although portion size was smaller and the sauce, which is more like a topping salad, was kind of made sloppily when we ordered it. From the rest of the menu, I sampled the Thai Shrimp Cakes, which were fine, and the Crispy Duck Salad, one of those Thai-inspired medley affairs with indiscernible crispy duck bits, shredded mango, mint, tomatoes, cashews, chili lime dressing and (what I found pretty annoying) pineapple chunks.
I haven’t tried any of the grilled dishes, which have some interesting fushiony descriptions- i.e. Ovaltine Pork Ribs, Yuzu Duck Skewers with yuzu hoisin sauce, Cinnamon Pork & Crispy Pork Belly, and a Thai whiskey marinated rib eye steak. The rest of the menu runs along the same fushion-Thai-inspired theme of noodle dishes, stir fries, and curries. So abandon all thoughts that this is “Sripaphai Williamsburg”. Although there are a few appealing authentic-ish sounding dishes: Bangkok Chicken Pumpkin Curry and Fiery Pork Red Tumeric Curry (touted as “perhaps spiciest Thai dish that NYC has to offer), to name two.
Interior is pretty swanky.