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If you’re asked to describe Aura, you might want to borrow a phrase from Ernest Hemingway: A clean, well-lighted place. This Ninth Avenue Thai newcomer is never going to get a “30” for décor in Zagat – consisting, as it does, of little more than a few blond wood tables placed beneath stylish light fixtures. But it is immaculate, cheerful, and, most important, a pleasing setting for well-made, inexpensively priced Thai food.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
Aura accurately describes its menu as “Thai Fusion cuisine,” since it does borrow from some other Asian cultures. And it does so with mixed success. Chicken shu mai were delicious: perfectly formed dumplings with a very tasty filling; on the other hand, duck roll – an appetizer-sized take off on Peking Duck – was light on the duck meat and way too heavy on the cucumber. A traditional Thai soup, however, was properly bracing.
So was the excellent beef salad (which I asked the kitchen to tone down a bit since I was on my way to the theater), which is also one of the restaurant’s best bargains. Just $7.95 buys you a copious bowl of delicious beef slices tossed with red onion, cucumber, tomato, roasted rice, greens and fresh herbs in a beautifully conceived lime dressing. Add a glass of the house’s tart-sweet limeade, and you have the ideal summer meal for under $10!.
I can never try a Thai restaurant without ordering pad thai, and Aura’ rendition of this signature noodle dish certainly passed the taste test. If you’re seeking slightly heartier fare, the lemongrass chicken will do the trick – the nicely cooked poultry is topped with a not-too-sweet sauce redolent of lemongrass, and complemented by sticky rice and a papaya salad. Next visit, I think I’ll consider Thai shrimp scampi or maybe duck with red curry.
Neighborhood: West 30s
Entree Price: <$10
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