Stylish Millennials are drawn to kitschy downtown restaurants with bright neon lights like bees to honey. So expect to be surrounded by lots of crop-top baring, selfie-taking people, 99% of them women, when you have dinner at The Lucky Bee, the new Southeast Asian restaurant in LES run by the former chef of The Fat Radish and The Leadbelly. The attractive crowd is pretty Instagrammable, and so is the inside, which look like it was furnished from Pearl River Mart. Bright paper lanterns and paper fans will show up so well in your social media feed.
The menu is loosely inspired by Southeast Asian street food. You will taste a lot of powerful flavors like cilantro, lemongrass, dried shrimp and fish sauce, but in ratios that deviate from the traditional. I’ve never had the authentic version of miang kham, a Thai dish consisting of crab meat rolled up in a betel leaf, but the one at The Lucky Bee didn’t inspire me to find out more about it. I have had traditional khao soi noodles in Chiang Mai, which are so amazing that they could only set me up for the letdown that was The Lucky Bee’s, a travesty with its thick, inedible broth.
I did like the coconut braised beef short ribs, and I’m sure I would have like the grilled whole shrimp if they weren’t so lukewarm. The real stunner of the night was the “secret” banana tapioca pudding. Apparently this off-menu dessert is only made in limited quantities each day, as we learned when the very “last” one went to the table next to us. Except an hour later one arrived on our table as well. Roll your eyes at the marketing ploy, but see this as a godsend, if the banana tapioca pudding is available to you, you take it. Any disappointments from the ups and downs of dinner will immediately be forgotten when you end on this high of a note.
The Lucky Bee
252 Broome St (between Orchard and Ludlow St)
New York, NY 10002