Thai gets real in Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge is all lit up over Glow Thai — a new Southeast Asian eatery that has become a beacon of hope for what seemed like a cursed spot for restaurants.

Even though its storefront on Third Avenue and 71st Street has turned over more failed food establishments than tables over the past few years, the six-month-old restaurant’s success is a sign of the neighborhood’s changing tastes — and its willingness to embrace an authentic representation of Thai food that goes well beyond green curry, drunken noodles, spring rolls, and pad thai.

“We’re somewhat polarizing, because our emphasis is on food and experience and flavors — pungent, sour, sweet, and spicy — rather than appealing to mass market tastes,” said Anthony Loupos, who co-owns the business with wife Suwanna Amatmontri, who serves as chef.

“I hope we can continue to find success just by being authentic and by being excited about our food,” he said. “I would never want to compromise and stop doing that.”

So far, the plan seems to be working — although standard Thai menu mainstays are the definite best sellers. But harder to come by dishes like larb (minced salad with chicken, pork or beef, onion, scallion, and toasted rice), quid diow street noodles (rice noodles with fish balls, fried garlic and bean sprouts in a musky broth), homemade pork and rice sausage, and the impossibly fiery — and off the menu — jungle curry aren’t far behind.

For Glow’s rapidly growing legion of acolytes, mouth-watering food has become almost secondary to the profound feeling of community Loupos and staff have worked hard to foster.

Loupos attributes this to an active use of social media, not just as a tool to promote the business, but as a means to make direct connections within the neighborhood.

“A lot of people see social media marketing as boxes to check off — Facebook account? Check. Twitter? Check. But we use it as a way to actively reach out and engage with everyone,” Loupos said.

That means blurring the line between Facebook and Epicurious.com.

“We share content on how to make pad thai, on how to use Thai ingredients. When someone likes us on Facebook, we thank them by name. It’s all very personal,” he said. “And what’s resulted is this following of customers that have become our actual friends.”

Glow Thai [7107 Third Ave. between 71st and 72nd Streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-1920].