By now, you have most likely been to Pye Boat Noodle if you care at all about eating decent Thai food in New York City. It has been open for some time now, and even expanded to a location in the Upper East Side of all places. It's original spot on Broadway in Astoria is still going strong, far from the epicenter of Thai restaurants in Elmhurst.
The world PYE refers to the oar or paddle that a boatman or woman uses when plying a river or canal. Boat noodles get their name from their original point of sale, the small boat operated by one person doing all the cooking, greeting, serving, and cleaning. In Thailand you can now eat boat noodles at riverside restaurants that orient their seating at counters facing the water. Portions from the boat or at these restaurants are quite small and very cheap, necessitating multiple orders and giving the opportunity to try different noodles and meats.
In addition to boat noodles, Pye offers Thai hawker foods, and one of the nicest starters is the kai nok krata tod ($4.50, above), fried quail eggs. These small eggs are super rich and beg be lathered with the sweet chili sauce they stand in.
Despite the name and interior decor theme, I do not actually think the boat noodles are the strongest menu item here at this restaurant. For New York City, this rich dark broth seasoned with blood is certainly welcomed, but there is still room for improvement.
The version above is boat noodle with pork ($9.95), and comes as a beautifully dark bowl, much larger than anything served in Thailand to cater to the more common dining practices of the west. As is customary, an array of additions can be made to your bowls, so that anyone can suit their palate. If it is your first time here, the servers will guide you through these choices.
After several visits and having most of their noodles, my favorite is the tom yum Sukhothai ($10.95, above), here simply referred to as Sukhothai on the menu. The kitchen is not open for viewing here, but watching this soup prepared in Thailand is a real treat, as its twelve or so ingredients are laid out in different bowls and added to the noodles and broth when ordered. This bowl is adequately sour, a touch sweet, and decently spicy. As well as the herbs and vegetables, the peanuts create a great texture, as well as the crispy pork skin.