We thought about trekking out to Queens to the beloved Sripraphai but it was a Sunday night when the trains don't run all that well, and a cold Sunday night at that! So our Manhattan choice was Pam Real Thai in Hell's Kitchen. We started out with a Yum Woon Sen (a salad of glass noodles with lime dressing, shrimp, minced chicken, squid, red onion, cilantro and chili) -- fresh, limey and delicious.
We had two appetizers: Shrimp Rolls and Thai Beef Jerky. The shrimp rolls were whole shrimp wrapped in spring roll skins and fried. Not what we expected from the menu description of "shrimp stuffed crepes" but really tasty nonetheless.
The beef was air-dried then deep-fried and served with sticky rice and a spicy limey sauce. I loved the crispy jerky-firm texture.
Instead of a coconut-based curry, which brownie finds too sweet and thick, we ordered a Kaeng Pa' (Jungle Curry), described on the menu as a "popular hill tribe spice watery curry" -- more like a soup with bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and peppers, flavored by basil.
As a main dish, we got a Pad Kra Prow (crispy duck with basil, garlic, red pepper and chili. Again, I loved the crispiness of the juicy duck and the wonderful basil flavor. Our other main dish was Pad Prik Khing with squid, long beans and lime leaves stir-fried with curry paste. The squid was cooked perfectly -- juicy and tender without any chewiness.
All the flavors were wonderful -- spicy yes, but in a thoroughly enjoyable, not at all painful way. As my friend Steph said, it's so great to have a meal that makes you blow your nose!
Pam Real Thai
404 West 49th Street (at 9th Ave.), NYC
215.333.7500 or 215.333.7240