SriPraPhai has been the highly touted Thai restaurant in the New York City area ever since 2004 or so.
I have admit, I did not venture out to SriPraPhai until this past weekend. It’s a pilgrimage to head out to the middle of Queens where public transportation is relatively limited and you’d have to walk through blocks of ethnic shops to find this understated restaurant.
Thankfully, when my dining companion and I arrived there about quarter past noon on a Sunday, it didn’t have a line, like my friend feared. The large, bright dining room is still sparse despite the fact it’s renovated. Warm blond wood tables and the clay red tiles that looks relatively modern but doesn’t add much character to the place and there’s a large back garden. We opted out from sitting the latter since it’s getting fairly warm.
We started with cold, sweet, bold drinks of Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee ($2.50 each) that fulfills our need of caffeine. Most notably is that the tea isn’t watered down unlike most restaurants.
We started with Thai Buffalo wings ($7.50) since my friend who ate here before was looking for a particular barbecued pork ribs that has the same accompaniments of dry roasted peanuts and romaine lettuce – except the restaurant no longer serves it. These chicken wings’ is a misnomer since it doesn’t taste as spicy or thickly coated in a spicy barbecue sauce but they were fantastically juicy and tender with a touch of spice. The peanuts and romaine doesn’t make any sense for this dish but they were fine to nibble on.
Their papaya salad and dry shrimp garnished with crispy ground catfish ($10.50) was phenomenal. Clashes of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors from the crunchy, sour green papaya to the sweet long beans and shredded carrots. The dried shrimp added some salinity and the fried ground catfish added a subtle crumbly crunch to the dish. The brute, uncompromising flavors manages to meld into a symphony.
Khai jiao (Pan fried egg) with chicken ($9) was the most familiar to me since my childhood with a Chinese upbringing, my parents used to make a version of an omelet filled with chunks of meat or quick cooking vegetables that they had in the refrigerator. This large thick cake of egg was cooked through with a bronze underside was filled with tender chunks of chicken and was especially delicious with the mildly spicy sauce (sort of tasted like a spicy ketchup) accompanied with it.
Khao soi, a large bowlful of curried egg noodles with pork ($9.50) was my friend’s favorite dish and I understand why. It’s comforting, soulful and filled with a lot of egg noodles both briefly cooked in the sauce as well as the fried crown that tops this bowl. The curry is not too spicy as I was expecting but it’s delicious. The side of condiments served with the khao soi were pickled mustard greens, fresh red onion, and a wedge of lime to let you create the flavors you’d like in your bowl of curried noodles.
Despite the fact we’re both really full, we did opt for the tom yum pork leg soup ($9.50) that was cleanly flavored as the color of that broth. Spicy and vinegar-y sour that it caught me off guard choking a bit from those two brute flavors. The rice vermicelli noodles were wonderful with this soup and the chopped pork leg meat was chewy and tender.
This was a great start to my first expedition to SriPraPhai. For my next visit, I would recruit more friends so we could try out more dishes and let them experience what real Thai food tastes like.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):