Details: Located at 647 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036. Official site is https://www.obaony.com/
OBAO is a really trendy Vietnamese/Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
I think the first thing you should know about this place is just how trendy this place is. The interior is a dimly lit area with a downstairs and an upstairs. There are lots of artistic lamps hanging around the space. I don’t know how they do their hiring but all the waitresses were practically Vietnamese models, all thin and dressed in attractive clothing (see through shirts and tight clothes… men were less fashionable). Loud music with a good beat played over the speakers.
The whole front of the restaurant was filled with customers waiting for the next available table. We had reservations and we still had to wait a bit for a table.
I had the Laksa, which was about sixteen dollars I think. It was okay. The shrimp I got was fresh and fairly large. The few slices of pork belly were okay.
The portion wasn’t enormous. The portion was especially disappointing considering that there are numerous places outside Manhattan where laksa costs about half as much and tastes about as good. OBAO is in Manhattan though. I also tried some of my friends pad thai, which was average.
Overall, I think this is less a place about good food and more about just being a place to hang out with nice energy. In my opinion, Thai food and Vietnamese food should be so ubiquitous so as to cost only slightly above Chinese takeout or Mexican food. Strangely enough, Western restaurant goers love to place Vietnamese/Thai food on a trendy pedestal and pay a premium for it. Not really sure why this specific kind of ethnic food gets this kind of treatment. Personally, OBAO is just another example of needlessly over hyped, overpriced Viet/Thai food. With that said, all I had was the laksa. Maybe there is something more impressive on the menu that I didn’t try.