March 01, 2010


I've wanted to try the Thai at SriPraPhai for ages. Bloggers and magazine writers alike seem to sing its praises, and since it's also super cheap, I figured it would be worth a trip, someday. Then, serendipity! A friend of mine is getting married in May, and 2 of the bridesmaids (Heather & Laura) and Laura's mom and I met to put together the invitations...and the gal hosting us, Heather, just happens to live within walking distance of this restaurant. Well, you can't expect us to do something like that on an empty stomach, can you?

First of all, prepare to read. This menu is EXTENSIVE. Pages and pages and more overwhelming pages.

Heather is no stranger to this place, and she insisted that we try her favorite dish, the fried watercress salad. Now, watercress is something I normally pick out of my sandwiches, etc. I don't care for its bitter taste. Once it's fried, however, it completely transforms. Granted, I realize it also probably loses much of its healthy benefits, but let's focus, people, focus!! This dish was WONDERFUL. Bright, crunchy, tangy--and not really spicy, but well-seasoned. If I go back there, I'm getting this, no question.

I decided to get the fresh shredded papaya salad with fried catfish. The photo in the menu made it look like whole pieces of fried fish, but instead, the fish is super-shredded and shaped into a crunchy disc on the side. Odd, but interesting. I wasn't crazy about it, though. A few nibbles of the fishy-crunchy thing and I was moving on to other things. Like my INSANELY hot papaya salad. Heather warned me about the heat, but clearly I didn't fully realize that 'medium' spicy (my usual level) meant tongue-searing, sweet-mother-of-mercy-save-me HOT.

Sweet fancy Moses. I mean SERIOUSLY. This was out of control hot. I love a good spice, a nice smoky heat that builds and builds, but this was almost incapacitating at times. I don't mind if my nose runs just a little, or if a few beads of sweat break out on my forehead. But THIS? This was painful, unending, tears rolling down, flush-faced torture. This white girl has never been so pink. Jumpin Jehosephat.

I turned to sample a few other dishes to relieve my throbbing taste buds. I also had TWO Thai Iced Coffees (I figured the milk had to help). Laura's mom, who isn't a fan of spicy, ordered some non-spicy dishes (and probably saved my mouth from permanent injury). I tried half of a chive dumpling. The sauce was delicious, but the dumpling I got was a little gummy in the middle. Not my favorite--but I'd give them another shot if I go back. I love chives!

I tried Laura's mom's dish, the shrimp pad thai. This has to be one of the best pad thais I've ever tasted. It was clean, bright, fresh, and just outstanding. Well done. I think I kind of got burned out a few years ago on pad thai--I ordered it so often that I needed a break. This pad thai is worth a return.

Laura ordered another of my favorite dishes: Pad See Ew (wide egg noodles) with beef. It was much sweeter than I'm used to, but the beef was tender and perfectly cooked. Not a lot of noodles, but that's fine with me!

Someone also ordered shrimp rolls for the table. These were shrimp pulled perfectly straight and wrapped tightly in a crunchy coating. I thought they were YUM.

Heather ordered the green curry with noodles. I tried a spoonful of this and enjoyed it--I've never tried the green curry before. She and Laura both said it had a very hot and spicy finish, but I barely noticed it. I think the papaya salad did its damage already--anything after that was a cakewalk!

I'd read in reviews (and heard from people who ate there) that service is really bad, but I didn't have that experience. They definitely let us take our time to order, and sure, they don't pop by every five minutes, but whenever we needed something (like, say, a tongue-rescuing Thai iced coffee), I had no trouble getting their attention. They also filled our water glasses often, which Heather says NEVER happens normally. They probably saw me plotzing over the salad and figured they didn't need some chick having an episode--bad for business! They did take away a dish for the shrimp before Heather could dip her last roll in the sauce, but other than that, service was definitely better than any of us expected. The bill came to 21 per person, including a great tip--not bad for all that food (apps, drinks, etc!) The papaya salad was good, but not as amazing as the papaya salad at Pho. It's definitely worth a return visit for the pad thai and maybe a MILD papaya salad. :)

Thanks again, Heather, for hosting us!!!

1 comment:

Linda Axelrod said...

I am not a fan of spicy food, either. So while in Thailand last year, I ate at Japanese, Chinese and Italian restaurants in Bangkok and while in smaller cities was very careful with my ordering. Upon my return to Bangkok, a Thai friend and I went out for a fabulous Royal Thai lunch and she taught me how and what to time I go to a new country, I'll get that lesson first.

Great and entertaining review!!!

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