There's no shortage of casual restaurants and neighborhood bars along the Hell's Kitchen stretch of Ninth Avenue. You may remember that, back in early June, this was one of the first areas in town to really come back to life after the shutdown, albeit in a way that felt somewhat alarming at the time. But although there's already a lot vying for your attention around here, a new spot opened this month near 53rd Street that definitely deserves a try — a stylish Thai chicken shack called Three Roosters.
Three Roosters serves chicken, and pretty much only chicken, but there's so much variety in the preparations that the menu doesn't feel meager. The lemongrass-infused Grilled Chicken, for example, is seasoned the way the famous Aunt Noi did it for 30 years when she served her bird from a cart outside of the high school attended by the members of the Three Roosters team. It's available in dark or white meat and paired with some first-rate sticky rice, a bright little corn salad, a crock of sticky tamarind sauce, and a bowl of insanely rich and delicious chicken broth. This is a very good platter of food.
The Poached Chicken, or Khao-Mun-Gai, is equally great, and, as is often the case with this dish, so much more flavorful than you might think, given its wan appearance. The bird itself is remarkably tender and juicy, the pieces laid across a mound of ginger rice and, when dipped in the accompanying soybean ginger sauce (supposedly a secret family recipe), enormously satisfying. You get some of that amazing broth with this platter as well.
And Three Roosters goes three-for-three with their Fried Chicken, a seriously crackling, but also mysteriously light delight, which arrives hacked up and ready to be dunked in chili sauce. You can get this as a platter like the other two birds or do what I did and pair it with a pile of Zab Fries, perfectly cooked and dusted generously in Thailand's popular salty, sweet, sour, and spicy seasoning. Oh and there's a bonus bird too, skewers of Chicken Satay with Thai peanut sauce.
The scene on Ninth Avenue is much more constrained than it was back in June, now that vehicular traffic has returned to what feels like pre-pandemic levels and proper curbside dining pens are the norm. Three Roosters was still building its outdoor eating area when I dropped by recently — they're sharing the space with their neighbor, Wondee Siam — though there were a few sidewalk tables set up as well. No inside seating for now, but you are allowed to go in and use the restroom and, on your way there, check out the stylish interior, covered in typography.
Three Roosters is located at 792 Ninth Avenue, between 53rd and 52nd Streets, and is currently open from noon to 8 p.m. (917-261-4055; threeroostersthai.com)