Cafe Asean


This is one of those many wonderful little places in Manhattan that makes you okay with the fact that you live in what is essentially a $2500 a month doghouse surrounded by hobo urine and rat excrement. Tiny in the ultimate sense of the word, a party of five at this place is really pushing the limits of its capacity. (If you’re over six feet, you might want to think about getting your order to go, as you may not fit at one of the little wooden Hobbit benches.) This is also one of those great restaurants where you are just praying that the food tastes better than it smells. If you’ve never gotten a whiff of curried squid, you can imagine a peeled lemon the size of a car falling into a pool of chlorine and brine. Luckily for all of us, the food is delicious, plentiful and pretty damn cheap for the West Village. Serving a mixture of Thai, Vietnamese, and some other kind of unpronounceable fish, chicken, noodle and beef dishes, Café Asean has something for the experimental soul in us all. In warmer weather, there is a little garden out back that is supposed to be nice. We don’t know if this is typical of Village restaurants, but the crowd here is amazingly funny, from gay Hispanic first dates to agitated horn-rimmed, black-scarf-wearing, Yuppie hipsters who impatiently wait for your table so their struggling model girlfriends can order water and pretend to look over the menu. [MF]

117 W 10th St.