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Sripraphai


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Does anybody know what gives the curry that very distinctive fermented-like flavor?  Is it fermented shrimp?

Depends on the curry, but it is typically shrimp paste (gapi) and sometimes fermented fish (plaa rah), which is more common, as I understand it, in curries in the North.

Had a birthday dinner at Sri a week or so ago. Everything was excellent. My new fixation is crispy pork with chili and basil.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Depends on the curry, but it is typically shrimp paste (gapi) and sometimes fermented fish (plaa rah), which is more common, as I understand it, in curries in the North.

I was asking in specific reference to what is listed as "sour curry with omelette and shrimp" on the menu. It has a flavor completely distinct from the other curries I've tried (green, red, massaman, etc).

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  • 4 weeks later...
Depends on the curry, but it is typically shrimp paste (gapi) and sometimes fermented fish (plaa rah), which is more common, as I understand it, in curries in the North.

I was asking in specific reference to what is listed as "sour curry with omelette and shrimp" on the menu. It has a flavor completely distinct from the other curries I've tried (green, red, massaman, etc).

It gets its pleasant sourness from tamarind (which you won't find in the other curries), and its funkiness from cha-om, the sort of fetid green in the omelette, and I think from some of the fermented fish. Yet there is a definite sweetness underlying these flavors, and just enough pleasant heat as a followup to take your mind off the pungency. I find it varies a lot there, and sometimes is more balanced than others.

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Welcome, SuzanneW! I'd love to hear more of your opinions of Sripraphai--you seem to know a lot about Thai food. What dishes do you enjoy there?

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Welcome, SuzanneW! I'd love to hear more of your opinions of Sripraphai--you seem to know a lot about Thai food. What dishes do you enjoy there?

Thanks for the welcome! Know a little, still hoping to learn a lot.

At Sripraphai, things definitely vary, but I really like the jungle curry (sometimes the flavors are more muddled, but when it's good it's great); any salad or anything involving grilled meat, especially the beef salad and moo manao (pork with garlic and lime, i think it's called on the menu); bamboo shoot salad; khao soi; often the panang; and when I'm just there by myself and want soemthing basic, the meat stirfried with basil over rice. I recently had tom kha gai, which I rarely order because I like everything else more, and it was awesome, and when I am sick I really need their tom yum.

I have NOT done very well with some of the stir-fries, most recently the frog with basil and chilis or the pad ped phet yang (roast duck and red curry stir fry -- different from the roast duck curry), or with the pad see-ew (I would kill for a nicely wok-charred, smoky pad see-ew, but can't find it anywhere). I also think the much famed watercress salad with seafood is often terrifically unbalanced, and the flavors and textures don't work; I know many disagree.

Recently a friend who does not like heat ordered the massaman curry, which I don't usually order. It was full and luscious, and would work well for someone avoiding heat.

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It gets its pleasant sourness from tamarind (which you won't find in the other curries), and its funkiness from cha-om, the sort of fetid green in the omelette, and I think from some of the fermented fish.  Yet there is a definite sweetness underlying these flavors, and just enough pleasant heat as a followup to take your mind off the pungency.  I find it varies a lot there, and sometimes is more balanced than others.

Thanks so much for the detailed description!

I had the tom yum once but thought it was exceptionally pungent, to the point where the broth was almost intolerable. Has anyone had this experience?

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At Sripraphai, things definitely vary, but I really like the jungle curry (sometimes the flavors are more muddled, but when it's good it's great); any salad or anything involving grilled meat, especially the beef salad and moo manao (pork with garlic and lime, i think it's called on the menu); bamboo shoot salad; khao soi; often the panang; and when I'm just there by myself and want soemthing basic, the meat stirfried with basil over rice.  I recently had tom kha gai, which I rarely order because I like everything else more, and it was awesome, and when I am sick I really need their tom yum. 

Oooh, that pork salad is so good, so insanely garlicky. Not something to order if you're planning to be around people within three days of eating it. :smile:

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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  • 1 month later...
If you haven't already seen JJ's article on nam prik at Sripraphai in the NYTimes (way to go JJ!), here's the link:

Humble & Hot

Thanks, alacarte! And thank you, Pan.

Now I'm obsessed with the pickled pork. Has anyone else tried anything interesting here lately?

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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  • 1 month later...

Pronouncement Sripraphai New York City Entry #72

In a city as varied and as disputatious as New York, to find unanimity on anything is as rare as coming upon a parking spot. Yet, as far as Thai restaurants are concerned, one name is on everyone's lips - even if that name is routinely garbled. Sripraphai, located in the heart of Woodside, Queens, a few blocks down from the Jackson Heights subway stop. One imagines that the staff keeps a list detailing how customers scramble three simple syllables - two dozen entries would be a start. The menu helpfully provides the correct pronunciation (See-PRA-Pie).

Since opening Sripraphai has expanded, and in its current incarnation, it has a simple elegance, particularly in the back area away from the front door (it also has a garden for summer visitors). Sripraphai now also has a liquor license, and serve some Thai wine and beer. But the restaurant remains efficient, we turned over in just above an hour, having spent a mere $24 apiece.

I learned Thai food in Chicago, which along with Los Angeles, is reputed to be the American nucleus of Thai cuisine. The most creative menus in Chicago are "secret menus" - once written in Thai script, but now translated for their Anglo patrons (see Silapaahaan - an essential Chicago dining companion).

I was impressed by the food served at Sripraphai, but often felt that the dishes were improved and subtler versions of dishes found at serious Thai restaurants, rather than some of the incandescent dishes found in Chicago at Siam House, Sticky Rice, TAC Quick, or Spoon Thai (try the Exploded Catfish Salad), or the haute Thai appetizers at Arun's.

This should not suggest disappointment. Our dishes (at a level of heat between medium and "Thai spicy") ranged from quite good to superb. We began with papaya salad with crispy catfish meat. The texture of the strings of green fruit were delightful as was the crispy coating, an ethereal fat. As wonderful as the coating was, little catfish graced the plate. A better balance between fish and crisp was called for.

Sripraphai is rightly known for their tom-yum pork leg soup (a hot and sour soup). The broth was exquisite. Light and full of heat. The fatty pork leg was less to consume than to perfume the perfect stock. I dream of unhurried, unsullied, immaculate pork leg consomme.

Our quartet ordered three main courses: roasted duck in hot and spicy sauce with Thai eggplant and bamboo shoots, jungle curry (a red curry) with beef and mixed vegetables, and fried soft-shell crab with green curry, pineapple, pumpkin, and long beans. Of the three, the green curry grabbed our attention. It is startling that a dish can be simultaneously hot and subtle, but this green curry made it seem easy. Sharing one order, we didn't consume quite enough of the beautiful crab, but the sauce and vegetables made up for the absence. The vegetables reminded me of the accompaniments at the most storied haute restaurants. The other two dishes were superior examples of Thai cuisine, but recognizable. I enjoyed the well-cooked eggplant, which mixed nicely with the fatty duck. The jungle curry was rich with spice, even if recognizable from dishes at other Thai restaurants.

Dessert at Sripraphai is an afterthought. We ordered pumpkin custard, a simple sweet which only disappointed because of its profound predecessors. Better stroll to the nearby Paraguayan-Uruguayan (??) bakery a few blocks along Roosevelt Avenue.

I make no claim to have conducted a census of Thai food in New York, but cannot quibble over the conventional wisdom. Dinner at Sripraphai was not transformative, but it was powerfully good; an establishment easy to reach and easy to love, but hard to pronounce.

Sripraphai

64-13 39th Avenue (off Roosevelt Avenue)

Queens (Woodside)

718-899-9599

Closed Wednesdays

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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Dessert at Sripraphai is an afterthought.

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

To call dessert there an afterthought is to imply the kitchen doesn't take it seriously. But the selection of desserts is extensive, and there are various Baroque procedures you have to follow for adding ice chips to this or heating that. If I'm not mistaken, the first time I went there the place was actually billing itself as a sweet shop that also serves food. Do the desserts taste good? Well, I'm not particularly fond of any of them except maybe the banana sticky rice. But an afterthought? I can't agree.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sripraphai, although it has an extensive menu (including photos of their dishes), does not have a dessert menu (we asked). That suggests that if they used to consider desserts their reason for being, that rationale has weakened. But we agree that Sripraphai is not the place for dessert (they do have Banana - and Taro - Sticky Rice: which I bought to take home on FG's earlier recommendation, and tonight trust I will enjoy it).

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  • 1 month later...

Visited Sripraphai with my intrepid dining companion on Saturday night. Took 45 mins by subway from Union Square and it would have been just fine with me if it had taken twice as long. Holy crap. It would appear that I have never actually had Thai food before.

We started with the roasted duck salad and the papaya salad with dried shrimp, followed by tom yum pork leg soup. Was astounded by the clarity of the flavors in each of the dishes. For entrees, soy sauce noodles with chicken (smoky and sweet) and beef massaman curry. Delicious then and for leftovers. It's probably a good thing that Sripraphai is in Queens, or I'd be eating it every night.

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  • 5 months later...

Just came back from Sripraphai - having actually not visited since before they renovated. Just a few notes, on my observations (for what its worth):

The food - still great, with complex flavoring, and an authentic level of hotness. (Had the mussels appetizer, followed by shrimp drunken noodles...both good. Though the highlight was still the Yod Thong - due to my sweet tooth.)

The service...had a few reservations. The atmosphere was great, the place looked beautiful. Too loud - though maybe that's just the price of success and having a packed house. Also, for our party of four, they got the order wrong repeatedly - my husband's meal didn't come out until the rest of us were actually done - and I do believe that they charged us for an extra meal (they tried to put someone else's plate on our table, until we told them that it wasn't ours.) The bill looked off, but since nothing was itemized, we didn't want to wait around long enough to straighten it out, and let it go.)

Oh - and there was a mystery $1.00 tacked onto the bill - which I think was an actual charge for the doggie bag!

Absolutely not to take away from the food - which I did enjoy. But its a shame about the rest - and hope its not typical...!

--Janet (GG)

Edited by GaijinGirl (log)

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

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I finally had the great, great pleasure of making it out to this destination that I've heard so much about. Now that the Mets have nearly clinched, a trip out to Queens can now mean a stop on the way out or back in Jackson Heights for some real quality Indian food, or in this case, Woodside for my new favorite Thai restaurant.

Thankfully I find myself yet again hosting friends from Japan and commanded to deliver only the culinary best of what NY has to offer. It takes another's vacation for mt to enjoy my own city. You'd think that you'd be able to get great Asian food in Japan, but unfortunately, even moreso than most Asian food which is dumbed down and sweetened up for the American palate, there are 2 factors that combine for overal bland flavors in the land of the rising sun - the near complete lack of a foreign population in Japan (quickly changing thanks to the rapidly aging population), and the Japanese intolerance for spice and extreme flavors.

Cultural lesson aside, remind me to go there BEFORE the game rather than AFTER, so I'll have more room to experiment. With the dishes so cheap, why not. This is the best Thai food I've had since Thailand.

I hurriedly scanned this thread from my browser-phone while my Japanese friends utilized the photo catalog, and our appetizer order was Beef Laarb and the fried soft-shell crabs. The waitress asked "you want medium spice, for me Medium Spice?" which I assumed mean very spicey for mere mortals. I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity and range of seasonings that went into this beef larb, while I lied to my companions about what level I ordered, which unfrotunately rendered their tongues useless for about 10 or 20 minutes. Still, great dish, I'll order it again. The softshell crabs were plump and perfectly fried. And at $2 a pop. the Thai iced teas were being downed to ward off the incredible spice of the Laarb, which also democratically disallowed me from ordering something else spicy (I really wanted that Jungle curry) -

Another crimp in our order was that noodle soups cannot be ordered after 5pm (it was abut 5:07 as I recall), but I quickly realized the Whammy Burger feeling coming on was more of a result of the meatballs Trachsel had been leaving over the plate. Why this rules?

The 2nd order was for the beef soy sauce noodles, bean thread soup, and this appetizer of puffed rice cafes resembling rice crispy treats that came with a sweet chutney of some sorts. That was almost like dessert for us. The Soy sauce noodles were absolutely delicious, once again with prodigious amounts of Thai basil, lemongrass, I'm assuming some kaffir lime, all sorts of indigenous spices. The soup was really great, the broth refreshing, and the bean threads resembling extremely thin intestines, like a cow stomach. My only complaint was that the 2nd orde took a while to come out m- good to know everything is made fresh, but left us sitting there for a while, thankfully the Tennis final was on their new plasma screen TV....

What can I say, I'm almost sad that I finally made it out there, ignorantly blissful in the Thai food wars of Hell's Kithcne... I'm gonna go by Pam Real to compare, but I have to say, I was extremely impressed, pleasantly suprised by the prices set by a restaurant which has obviously enjoyed uncharacteristic success over an extneded period of time - all in all, yet another wonderful reason to be a Mets fan!

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The softshell crabs are definitely on top of my "must have" list; my vegetarian friend instantly converted after the first bite of the crabs. Sure, the service might not always be the best but I am not complaining for the price and the quality...

Has anyone tried out the Thai places in Williamsburg?? I have been to SEA, Tai Thai, Planet Thai and Chai Home Kitchen and none of them top Sripraphai...

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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I've been to Sea and Planet (as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights equivalents) and they don't even belong in the same paragraph as Sri.  Sweetened, Americanized "thai"

So which is better, Pam Real or these?

I usually seen Sea and Planet being touted by Brooklyn/Billyburg apologists...

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I've been to Sea and Planet (as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights equivalents) and they don't even belong in the same paragraph as Sri.  Sweetened, Americanized "thai"

So which is better, Pam Real or these?

I usually seen Sea and Planet being touted by Brooklyn/Billyburg apologists...

Pam Real's red curry rocks!! Both Sea and Planet Thai are pretty "hip" places serving cheap eats. Planet Thai is combo of tappanyaki/sushi/Thai restaurant. Expect up to 1 hr wait for these two places on Fri and Sat (which I don't think they are worth it).

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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Pam Real and Wondee Siam (although nowhere near as good as Sri and presumably Zabb) are ten times better than Sea or Planet.

Sea and Planet are exactly identical in terms of food quality to the Sea and Spice and Peep pseudo-Thai restaurants in the city. The only difference is that they are larger and have more elaborate decor.

yeah, I have Brooklyn friends who rave about them too. on the other hand, they're not foodies or actually into Thai.

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