If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen at Ugly Baby, which cranks out some of the spiciest Thai food you will ever eat in New York City. Chef Sirichai Sreparplarn intentionally keeps the spice levels high to authentically reflect how food is seasoned in Thailand, and guests must accept the dishes as is with no modifications. There’s heat in almost every single item, so get ready to sweat it out and down pitchers of water if dinner here is in the cards in the near future.
My meal at Ugly Baby felt like a constant blur of taking a few bites of something and waiting in speechless shock for the painful burn to go away, only to do it all over again. It was definitely the spiciest meal of my life. The night started out innocuously enough. After an hour long wait for a table on a Friday night–the restaurant accepts walk-ins only–we sat down and happily took advantage of the byob policy, sharing a bottle of wine and some beers. The first dish was a plate of stir-fried bean sprouts, which we intentionally ordered because it wasn’t spicy at all, but maybe that’s why it was also the most bland thing we ordered that evening. And then came the explosive fireworks with the curried rice with pork skin, with even more aftershocks to follow. Here’s a rundown of everything we ordered, ranging from spiciest to the least:
*kao tod nam klook – Curried rice, pork skin, peanut and ginger – This was off-the-charts, unbearably spicy, but the flavors were quite good and very interesting.
*laab ped udon – spicy Udon Thani’s duck salad – The flavors in the duck salad were very earthy, so initially you didn’t think it was going to be spicy, but then it quickly built into an intense burn.
*khoong muk kai kem – shrimp, squid and salted egg yolk – This was slightly spicy and reminded me of some generic seafood stir fry you would get at a Chinese seafood restaurant. I probably wouldn’t order this again.
*mee kati isan – rice noodles, ground pork peanut curry, shallot, soybean and raw vegetables – There was some heat but it was very manageable. Curried rice noodles are always delicious, and this was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night.
*gai golae – southern style chicken thigh skewers – The spice level was also pretty mild, and the chicken thighs were moist and well seasoned, which made this another crowd pleaser.
*pad tua ngok rau kao – stir-fried bean sprouts with minced pork and tofu – No heat at all, which maybe made this the blandest. I would not order this again.
407 Smith St (between 4th and 5th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11231