Uncle Boons fills the need for compelling Thai food in the area bounding NoLIta, the Lower East Side and SoHo. Step down into a dark, enchanting hideaway whose brick walls are chockablock with offbeat Asian art. The L-shaped bar is stocked with locals and the back dining room is great for parties. The food is spicy but it won't blow your head off, the menu devised by Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, who met while cooking at Per Se. Redding has Thai roots that reflect both high and street food culture; family members sold from carts and also cooked in the palace for the royal family. Recommended dishes include rotisserie chicken, charcoal-grilled baby octopus, crab fried rice with egg, cilantro and lime and golden curry with egg noodles, chicken leg, pickled mustard greens and coconut milk. On a hot day it's fun to get a beer slushy dispensed from a rotating barrel that works along the same lines as an ice cream machine.