Food in Bangkok: New York Cheesecake

New York is a city that holds a special place in the imagination of many people around the world.  So it is no surprise to see the mystique of New York used to sell everything from condos to makeup here in Bangkok.  The most recent addition to this “Big Appleing” of Bangkok is a small restaurant at the Crystal Design Center: NYCC – New York City Cheesecake.

Located in a rapidly expanding strip mall in the suburban outskirts on the northeast flank of the city, NYCC claims to offer a real taste of New York with not only authentic New York style cheesecakes but also pastrami sandwiches.  Being a lover of pastrami, I had to go out and try this for myself.

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The restaurant is really more of a shack or hut, located between other buildings at the Crystal Design Center.  CDC is a design-oriented strip mall located on Ram Intra Road, an already overcrowded road that extends from Ekkamai Road out to the suburbs.  Despite the overcrowding, the past five years have seen an explosion of businesses and housing this direction.  Perhaps the good news is that with these new shopping centers on the periphery of Bangkok, the traffic on the streets in the core of the city will not get any worse.

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The interior of NYCC looks more like a noodle shop with stools and small tables.  It isn’t much of a surprise then to learn that NYCC has a sister shop behind it that sells – wait for it – noodles.  Framed posters of Broadway shows lines the windows and various New York theme tchotchkes sit for sale on a side shelf.  The friendly staff take the orders and deliver the foods.  On a weekday afternoon around lunchtime, the place was not very busy.

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NYCC’s motto is “cheese will never cease” – I’m not sure what that means.  For some reason, it makes me think of an alternative definition of the word “cheese”.

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After a few minutes longer than I thought it would take, our sandwiches arrived.  I ordered the pastrami and Tawn ordered the chicken club.  The sandwiches are monsters, shooting for the “mile high” measurements for which New York deli sandwiches are know.  Let’s take a closer look at what we really have, though, from the toothpick down:

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The bread was actually pretty good, although it would have been a bit nicer lightly toasted.  It wasn’t a nice dark rye but was slightly more substantive than the wonder that passes for bread all too often here in Bangkok.

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In the middle, which is where most of the bulk is in this sandwich, is a stack of two types of lettuce, a stack of raw onion, and a stack of tomatoes.  The problem here (other than whether or not there should be any vegetables on a pastrami sandwich) is that everything is stacked, so you get a lot of onions in one bite, for example, and no onions in another bite.

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At the bottom is the pastrami.  I’ll give them credit for tasty pastrami, albeit sliced a little thicker than I like.  It was tender and smoky.  There was also not much of it, especially when compared with the bread and vegetables.  As for the sauce, the sandwich was over-sauced – which is not unusual here in Thailand, with brown mustard (nice) and Thousand Island (wrong – this isn’t a Reuben).

How to rate it overall?  Well,  for a sandwich that carried a price tag around 340 baht (about $11.40), it was mighty short on meat and might high on everything else… except a pickle, which would have been a nice touch.  Now, I’m not a New York, just a frequent visitor.  But from what I know of New York pastrami sandwiches, this is what my expectation looked like:

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This is a pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli.  We can debate which deli is the best, but in my mind, this is a good example of what a pastrami sandwich should be.  Lots and lots of pastrami with little or nothing else between the bread.  Now, I understand that beef is expensive here and I’m not opposed to paying a good price for something that approximates a real New York style pastrami sandwich.  But if I’m going to pay that much money, let’s lose the salad, add a little more meat, and put the sauce on the side.

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As for Tawn’s chicken club, it was a similar tower of salad but had a very substantial amount a chicken at the base – probably two breasts’ worth.  The meat was bland and instead of being thinly sliced was more slab-like.  It was about 250 baht and, from Tawn’s perspective, overpriced. 

As for the eponymous cheesecake, a recent dining companion (at another meal) told me she thinks the cheesecakes are flown in from the Cheesecake Factory in the United States.  I don’t think that’s the case, but the potion sizes are enough to make you believe it!

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We ordered a slice of regular cheesecake with strawberry topping, more than ample for two (or four!) to share.  I’ll give them credit for making a pretty passable New York style cheesecake.  The consistency is smooth, solid but not too dense, and nicely flavored.  It had obviously been frozen previously as the center of the slice was still icy – a faux pas when service cheesecake – but it was better than a lot of the overly airy cheesecake I’ve had in Bangkok.

We ended up with a bill of about 850 baht for two sandwiches, one slice of cheesecake, and two bottles of water.  For Bangkok, that’s a pretty pricey meal, especially for a lunch.  It was fun to try and NYCC had some things going for it, but not so many that I’d be easily tempted to make the trek out Ram Intra.  Instead, I’ll just save my pastrami cravings for my new trip back to the real New York.

0 thoughts on “Food in Bangkok: New York Cheesecake

  1. wow, that pastrami sandwich looks really disappointing… and the thought of Thousand Island on pastrami just seems wrong to me. That cheesecake does look pretty good… and an awful lot like the slice you’d get at Cheesecake Factory.

  2. agreed on the pastrami sandwich assessment. and yes, the carnegie deli one is good. now i’m looking down at my mcdonalds meal and wishing i had gotten that instead. haha! thanks alot Chris. way to ruin my lunch. =D

  3. I should not have read this before I go to lunch. I have to be careful not to pig out on the food. I do like the cheesecake but the sandwiches are a but “much”.

  4. Heh… Mike is visiting me and I yelled into the other room, as soon as I saw your post title on my universal inbox, “Hey, want some food porn??” The cheesecake looks gooood… and you’re right about NYC pastrami – my expectation would have been the mainly-meat pic that you shared (vs. one with so many veggies.) Mmmmm… looks very good.

  5. @ordinarybutloud – Couldn’t eat it as a normal sandwich, that’s for sure. I removed the whole top (i.e., salad) half and just ate the bottom half as a pastrami sandwich. Poked at the lettuce a bit and ate the pale tomatoes.@bengozen – Really? Never? What about a Reuben?@Passionflwr86 –  Glad you and Mike enjoyed it. Yes, the cheesecake was pretty decent, if overwhelming.@awoolham –  Let me add that to my to-review list…@Fatcat723 – @ThePrince –  Cool – I managed to threaten two lunches at once! =D@alextebow –  I may have to do some research at Cheesecake Factory just to confirm the similarity or difference. Ha ha… @Fongster8 –  We’re going to LA in July and I was thinking, “Why not fly the long way through New York?”@aPieceOfTheSky –  Will put those on my list to check next time I’m in NYC.@yang1815 – And given how many cucumbers are available here in Thailand, pickles don’t seem to be an impossible request.

  6. @awoolham – The key is tamarind paste, which is the flavoring for the sauce.  Many Thai restaurants outside Thailand cheat and use a tomato based sauce or, worse yet, ketchup!@Roadlesstaken – Considering the near impossibility of eating a sandwich like that, I agree that two smaller ones makes more sense.@bengozen – No, Ben.  Sorry.  =P

  7. I’m not a fan of pastrami but that looks good. haha I always rearrange my sandwiches before I eat them just so I won’t end up with a mouthful of onions on one end and none on the other. haha And as usual, that cheesecake, like all other cheesecakes, looks delicious! Yet again, I hate cheesecake. LOL

  8. oh gosh, you’re making me drool. i miss NY pile-high-thin-sliced pastrami sandwich and cheesecake factory. you can’t find a decent cheesecake here in jakarta, let alone pastrami. they do have “cheesecake factory” restaurant here but it is NO WAY close to the real thing in the states. different menu, different cheesecakes, and certainly different company. what they have is an embarrassment to the world of cheesecakes and i for one do not plan to ever going back, unless maybe for their brick over pizza.

  9. @Sue-chi Huang@facebook – There’s a link to their website in the first paragraph of the entry.  For your convenience, here it is again.@I_love_Burma – Sorry for the late response!  1) I’m not “from” Bangkok but I do live there now; 2) The only Thai food that is too sweet seems to be Thai food from restaurants outside Thailand!  =D  3) The pastrami was okay, but too thickly sliced.  I’m going to write in a few days about a pastrami shop I just tried in LA that is GREAT!  4) Thanks, you have a good day, too.

  10. @Sue-chi Huang@facebook – Whoops, sorry!  It looks like their website is no longer up and running.  I wonder if that means they are out of business?  Anyhow, if they are still around, they are located in the Crystal Design Center on Ram Intra Road, basically follow Ekkamai Road (Sukhumvit 63) north for several miles.  Crystal Design Center (CDC) between buildings B&D.  Their number, I am told, is 02-932-4120.  Good luck.

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