Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Love New York - Sripriphai Part Deux

Yes, I've written about this place before, but frankly it's worth revisiting. Another hidden gem just outside the sacrosanct boundaries of Manhattan, this restaurant offers some of the best Thai food in the city, if not the best. I have a friend who says that another place, which I will visit soon, is better, but right now I'm sticking with Sripriphai.

Like most New Yorkers who live on this island, I tend to get myopic when it comes to travelling outside of my little universe. We can always find an excuse not to leave our little fortress of solitude: problems/delays with the subway, most of us don't have cars so moving about can get complicated, and bus service can take forever. However, a quick ride on the 7 line brings you to the wildly, colorfully diverse neighborhood of Woodside, Queens. This melting pot of cultures from all over the world offers something for everyone from everywhere. Literally. On one block, a mosque sits next to a Chinese take-out, which is near a Dollar Store, with an empanada joint next to it, and an old-school Italian pizza place is its neighbor.

What to drink...?

A visit to Sripriphai calls for a little forethought when it comes to wines. You can't just bring any red or white. This food is bright with pure colors, flavors and aromas, and sometimes very, very spicy. Most wines will get blown out of the glass. What you need is something with good acidity and/or something that has some residual sugar. Bubbles are a plus too. Which is where either Champagne (acidity and bubbles) or Riesling (residual sugar and acidity) come in handy.

Papaya salad

These types of wines can stand up to the intense flavors in these dishes. They can also carry through and cleanse your palate, preparing you for the next treat.

Fried tofu

Heck, the bubbles in Champagne can act as little scrubbers, cutting through the intense flavors that are inherent in some of these.

Fried watercress salad

Sugar in the Riesling acts as a protective layer when it comes to spicy plates, countering the spicy oils and also preparing your palate for what comes next.

Drunken noodles

Some of these dishes are quite extraordinary. Bright, vivacious, alive.

Red snapper with garlic sauce

They haven't been dumbed down for their American audience, they have maintained their authenticity and are true to themselves. Which is what I love, and respect.

Curried pork with beans

I am not certain stuff like this would fly outside of New York. Or at least it wouldn't do as well as this place has. Sripriphai used to be a tiny sliver of a restaurant. Now, it's a large establishment with a gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous back garden.

Chinese greens

Braised pork leg (amazing)

Curried noodles with chicken (insanely good)

We're stuffed, but dessert comes anyway: sticky rice with taro and banana

It's places like this, that have remained true to themselves, that remind me why I love New York sometimes. Despite the gentrification and Las Vegas-ification of a once proud city, you can still find restaurants that haven't sold out to the fast food crowd. They require you to sit, be patient, and enjoy both your food and your company. Take your time to discover them and you will be pleasantly rewarded.

64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377
Tel# 718.899.9599

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