Last week, Lenox Thai, a small counter-service Thai spot, opened at 1217 First Avenue (between 65th and 66th streets). It is the sister restaurant to Hug Esan in Elmhurst, Queens, which has been open since 2017.
Lenox Thai is a family- and women-owned restaurant specializing in home-style Thai cooking. It is owned by partners Cindy and Chalita, who come from Esan in the Northeast region of Thailand. Chalita is the chef, and Cindy works at the counter.
The menu features many typical Thai staples including spring rolls ($10); flat rice noodles and a variety of curries (between $17 and $23 depending on choice of protein); and Thai iced tea ($5). There are also some dishes local to Esan, such as chicken curry puffs ($11) and kor moo yang ($12)—grilled marinated pork neck served with spicy roasted sauce. Cindy’s favorite dishes are the noodle soups ($21) and the po lo sam chan ($23), a stew made of pork belly, boiled eggs, tofu, and shiitake.
The restaurant itself is small, with only two tables each seating two people and a three-seat bar along the window. Diners order at the counter and can enjoy dine-in, take-out, or delivery. Since only one person works at the counter and attends to in-house patrons, wait times can get long, especially during rush hours.
Cindy was inspired to open Hug Esan and Lenox Thai because cooking has always been an important part of her life. She recounted that she and her siblings would help their mom in the kitchen by chopping onions, garlic, and other herbs. “What we serve here is like what my mom made at home,” said Cindy.
Before Lenox Thai opened, the space was home to a Chinese restaurant for 25 years. Cindy mentioned being hesitant about purchasing the space at first because it was so old. But they completely redid all the kitchen equipment.
Cindy is excited about being on the Upper East Side because she loves the residents and the neighborhood. The restaurant is open daily from 11:30am to 9:30 p.m.