Review By: Stefanie Parks –
SriPraPhai (pronounced see-pra-pie) has been on our list forever. Not only had we heard that it was the best thai place in NY from multiple people (and by multiple, I mean like, everyone), every time we read a review of a new Thai restaurant, this is the place that it’s compared to. Usually, the comparison goes something like “so and so place is awesome, maybe even comparable to SriPraPhai in Queens,” or “so and so place is good, but it’s no SriPraPhai.” You get the picture.
We had heard it was the best, so of course, we had to go check it out. We called them up to see how long they estimated the wait would be (20 minutes at 8:30, nothing like the 3 hours we’ll most likely wait tonight at Mission Chinese… if it ever stops raining), we attempted to look at the menu online (it’s just so long we couldn’t even do it), and then we hit the road. We took the 6 to the M, got off at 65th street, and within a few short blocks we were there.
We learned two key pieces of information upon our arrival:
1. The restaurant closes at 9:30pm. We got there a little after 9, so lucky for us, perfect timing.
2. The restaurant is cash only. Once again we were lucky in the fact that we both had plenty of that on hand.
We walked in and the restaurant smelled unbelievable. They said there would be a 15 minute wait, wrote our number on a piece of paper, and sent us out the door to wait. When we got seated about ten minutes later, the first thing we did is order some hot sake. For $10. Amazing. It was delicious.
The menu at SriPraPhai is a little overwhelming. There are 46 items in just the appetizer category alone. We decided to start with the Crispy Ground Catfish topped with green mango salad and cashew nuts. At $14, it’s the second most expensive item on the menu, after the $16 fried soft shell crab. Here’s what they dont tell you… 1) the crispy ground catfish dish is covered in cilantro. Yes, cilantro, my arch nemesis. Cilantro, the only food that I hate. If something is covered in cilantro, you should say so on the menu. 2) When they say ground catfish, they literally mean ground. As in, you cant even tell that there is fish anywhere in the dish. It tasted like a big pile of fried. You know what I mean. I actually think that our waiter tried to warn us about this, but for some reason, he didn’t quite get through to us. Damn.
So, yes, I disliked this dish. I would go as far as to say that I hated it. But, I blame that on the cilantro factor. Dave didn’t love the dish either, but he liked it. He thought the sauce was really good. I on the other hand, just couldn’t get past the cilantro, as I’m sure you can tell.
For our entree, we ordered our go-to Thai dishes (well, they started out as Dave’s go-to Thai dishes, and have become mine as well), Pad See-Ew with Chicken and Panang Curry with Beef. Pad See-Ew is sautéed soy sauce noodles, with egg and Chinese brocoli (and chicken too in our case) and Panang Curry is a sweet and slightly spicy curry, which we like with beef.
SriPraPhai did their panang curry a little differently than we’re used to. It had some sort of yogurt sauce on top of it, which neither Dave nor I have ever seen. The curry was the better of the two dishes, but both were great. Just as good as any Pad See-Ew and Panang Curry that I’ve had… but not the best like everyone says. In fact, we ordered thai food a few weeks ago from a place down the street from us (shout out to Thai@Lex), and I actually thought that might have been the best thai food that I’ve had… In NY at least. Well, other than Pok Pok of course, but that is in a category all its own.
Other than the appetizer (nope, still not over the cilantro situation), we had a solid meal at SriPraPhai. Do I think it’s the best thai food in NY? Definitely not. Plus, for the 30 minutes it took to get there, I think I’ll just stick to one of the ten thai places right down the street.
So, all in all, “SriPraPhai was good, but it was no Pok Pok.”