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May 20, 2003 01:31 AM

Sripaphai~ over hyped?

  • s

I checked-out this thai resto for lunch today after reading so many postings comparing it to wondee siam which happens to be my favorite thai in manhattan. I ordered the Tom yum soup and the fried chicken, papaya salad with coconut dish which were all good but, not near great. The saving grace was the tako corn dessert that I took home for dessert.

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  1. maybe you should try a few more dishes before you label Sripaphai "overhyped."

    7 Replies
      1. re: Neal

        Try the tripe.....they call it "pigs stomach" AWSOME, I had it this weekend. I've been a bunch of times and this place still blows me away.

      2. re: josh L

        Come now. I've never been to Sirpaphai but I have no doubt that it's usually excellent. You must admit, though, that a not so great first experience could lead a disappointed hound to ask a valid question. All the raves posted here have certainly led me to believe that everything on the menu should be memorable and exquisitely prepared. A little dissent every now and then keeps things lively. A more helpful answer on your part would have been "These are some of the outstanding dishes I've had there".

        1. re: Dipsy

          well i don't think anyone can expect a restaurant to be 100 percent perfect especially a small kitchen like Sripraphai. If you scroll down you will find a plethora of posts listing good dishes.

          thanks for the advise dipsy. now maybe you should check out Sripraphai and let us know what you think.

        2. re: josh L

          Like what dishes in particular? I did try the above mentioned dishes as per this boards recommendation. I concur that fried chicken is one dish that the thais are known for. I've been to Thailand several times and lived there for a month one summer. Also, the restaurant was far from busy when I went. I'm asian and can even understand a bit of thai. People who were eating there at the same time were not thai but, were chinese and i believe filipino. but, i'm not surpised as the location is near the filipino stretch of woodside/roosevelt avenue. I'm planning to give Sri another try. It's just a bit odd to hear that they also cannot produce decent satay and pad thai. It is to them like our meat loaf and macaroni and cheese.

          1. re: Spice

            You make a great point. I love meatloaf and mac & cheese. Unfortunately, more often than not, I'm disappointed with one or the other. Just because everyone makes it, doesn't make it uniformly good.
            el jefe

            you said:
            "It's just a bit odd to hear that they also cannot produce decent satay and pad thai. It is to them like our meat loaf and macaroni and cheese."

            1. re: Jeff V

              I agree. Lots of bad meatloaf and mac and cheese out there.

        3. I had lunch yesterday and was very pleased. Ordered the chopped meat (chicken) with chiles and basil and it was truly outstanding. It was a very large portion for just $6 plus $1 for rice. I've yet to have a bad meal after more than 10 visits. Last week, I had lunch at a new Thai Restaurant called Rice (72nd St & Roosevelt). It was good but not in the same league.

          1. overhyped? more like not hyped enough!

            would you care for a comment? honestly, your order is pretty gringo thai that you could get anywhere else so perhaps they did not take you seriously, especially if it was busy at lunch. just a guess, sorry to hear you were not real impressed.

            other than the papaya salad you got i have not thought to order those items with so much more adventuresome stuff available. maybe next visit get the spicy catfish dish and tell them you got a thai stomach!

            22 Replies
            1. re: mrnyc

              "honestly, your order is pretty gringo thai that you could get anywhere else so perhaps they did not take you seriously, especially if it was busy at lunch." mrnyc

              do you honestly think that is a possibility, mrnyc?...i hope it isn't, because if it is, that is a serious failing...but, from what i've seen of sripraphai, i wouldn't believe it...

              talk about gringo dishes -- i ordered the egg rolls, to go...and, they take such care with their take-out orders...they cut out little slots in the plastic containers for things they are afraid might get soggy -- like my egg rolls...and, these egg rolls (more like spring rolls) were awesome -- with this spicy-sweet-sour dipping sauce that was so delicate and delicious...i think gringos are taken seriously and can eat very well at sri's...

              on the other hand...i had the southern curry with beef, and it was just too intense for me when i tell you that i can handle spice (some of my best friends growing up were indian, and they taught me to appreciate the spice,) but this southern curry was not only burning my mouth out, but it had so much going on, it was giving me a headache...

              i was able to appreciate it a little more when i took a second crack at the left-overs, but once the rice was finished, that was that...there's no way i wanted to tackle it without the rice...

              sripraphai is incredible, but i don't think it takes too long before you hit something that you just can't get into...but, if you go a few times, and still haven't found something that impresses, there's gotta be something wrong...


              ps...the buzz is that sri's satay and pad thai are this the truth???...i've yet to try either, but with the care and skill that they put into their dishes, i find it hard to believe...however, if true, it would be a point against my notion that they take gringos seriously

              1. re: astoriaboy

                I'm not really sure what you mean by that being a gringo order. If you go to Thailand, fried chicken is one of the most popular dishes at many places and som tom is right up there with it.
                Like most places, you're going to hit a bad meal at Sripraphai once in a while. It's happened to me at least a few times, where everything seemed a little off or where the tastes were muddy.
                A separate problem is consistently bad dishes. I've sampled the pad thai there three or four times and never had a good one. The satay is middling--sometimes the meat can be really tough. Eric Eto posted not long ago regarding the whole fish.
                However, on the whole, Sripraphai is pretty consistent, and you can have more outstanding, authentic meals there for the money than just about anywhere.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  exactly my point, beside reading about it on chowhound it just never it occured to me to try phad thai, satay, fried chicken or tom yum etc. there because, thai staples or not, i'm too blown away by all the other stuff on the menu. those items are more common and can be had at many thai restaurants so i've skipped them at SRI--as i will continue to do (encouraged by your post) and as i suggest the original poster do next visit. i do have trouble seeing them do any item mundanely, but for the occasional visitor (including myself)why bother to order the most common thai food in a place like that?

                  1. re: mrnyc

                    A tad late into the fray, but this is an interesting issue, and one on which I happen to diagree with mrnyc (who is far from being a gringo himself, I'm sure).

                    When trying a restaurant for the first time where they do a cuisine I really know (like, Czech), I like to first order the most common, "default" dish as a litmus test, so to speak. 'Coz I know exactly what they are supposed to taste like, and if they taste different, I can tell what they've done with it and whether they have a point by doing just that. This is not to say I'll order the same thing on subsequent visits, but it's always informative to experience a place's take on the basics.

                    1. re: Katerina

                      Yep, I do the same thing. At a new Szechuan place I routinely order Kung Pao chicken as my test dish. As a gauge for evaluating restaurants it's never failed me. If they get it right, I begin to branch out on subsequent visits.

                      1. re: Katerina

                        i have a similar strategy, a matter of fact, the only reason i never tried the satay is because of the negative buzz -- otherwise, i surely would have tried it, by now...

                        i'm glad i started off with the kao soy, though...right off the bat, i knew sripraphai was a special is very enigmatic, however, that they can't put together a decent pad thai or satay...i wonder how many unfortunate people tried those dishes on their first visits to sri's and never returned...

                        the beef at sri's is a little tough, in general, i think...i stay away from it...but, that would not excuse their chicken satay and pad thai from being subpar...very strange...

                        oh...and, for the record, i had the tomyum, a couple of weeks ago and thought it was rather exceptional...


                        1. re: astoriaboy

                          and one more thing...

                          if good satay and pad thai cannot be had at sripraphai, who offers the best versions of these staple dishes in the area???


                        2. re: Katerina

                          I'm with galleygirl on this one. In thailand, people usually eat pad thai and sate at night markets, not restaurants. they're street food. i would never judge a homestyle thai restaurant like sri by those dishes, and in fact it has been my experience that the best thai restaurants do a sucky pad thai.

                          but really, what it seems to come down to is that if you want good pad thai and sate, don't go to sri. i will defend their tom yum and tom kha gai, tho. i find those tasty and authentic.

                          that said, my last visit to sri was disappointing. but i couldn't decide if it was just an off night or if the fact that i had just returned from a month in bangkok made my standards higher or if, god forbid, it was time for a "downhill alert." but i love sri so much that it would have to be bad 10 times in a row before i would give up on it. And since it's my 4-year-old's favorite restaurant, i'll probably be going there forever.

                          1. re: missmasala

                            When I returned from Thailand nothing tasted that good to me especially ny thai food. Sripaphai at least tasted like what i ate in thailand. the rest of the thai joints in the city cook more of a sweet take on pan asian take out food. how dare they insult us?

                            1. re: josh L

                              doesn't it suck that a trip to thailand just ruins you for thai food anywhere else?
                              i agree about sri--it's the only place i've found in nyc that even approximates what food in thailand tastes like.

                              1. re: missmasala

                                I had the best shrimp in my life in thailand. made the the shrimp here taste extremely bland lacking character and flavor.

                                1. re: missmasala

                                  Ive never been to Thailand, but it is ironic that when I first tasted the Sripraphai food a couple years ago, it brought back in a rush the flavors I had experienced more than 20 yrs ago when the first thai restaurants opened in NY (Thailand, Bangkok Cuisine, Reonthep (both of those around where Wondee is now)and a couple of tinies on the UWS) and had not enjoyed for many years. For me, its not so much that Sriphraphai is great, tho I love it, - I am sure there are other Thai cooks in NY who can cook as well. Its just that those other cooks have succumbed to a success formula that is a major cop-out on what their cooking could be.
                                  We just have to keep looking and keep encouraging.

                          2. re: mrnyc

                            Not that I have any standing in this discussion, as a Boston hound who's only been to SRI once(g), and loved it, (of course)... But I have this theory, which the best two Thai places in Boston also validate, that *really* good Thai restaurants do gloppy, goopy, suck-y pad thai....Don't know why, maybe cuz it's a streetfood dish that a restaurant there wouldn't be doing, but my to favorite Thai's in Boston do pretty awful pad Thai...A not-so-great Thai place does my favorite. Go figure...And of course, people go to the great Thai places, order the pad thai, then post and say, "I went to X, and the pad thai wasn't all that. What's the big deal?"

                            Good Thai restaurants don't do good pad thai!

                            1. re: galleygirl

                              thanks for clarifying what i think i really meant to say, that maybe some great places do not do their traditional standards all that well. as i said, for me its just a guess. i'm so blown away by the little tomato/eggplants, the spice, the menu and all the other goodies in SRI it never really occured to me to give the most familiar standards a taste tryout. hmmm, only way to test this theory is to make more visits right? ok, i broke my rule of 'no more than two posts in a thread'-- and i do hope the original poster gives SRI another try.

                              1. re: galleygirl

                                chao thai has better food than sri and it's pad is better too so this undercuts celtic girl's claims re. inauthenticity

                              2. re: mrnyc

                                But this is a neighborhood Thai restaurant, for neighborhood Thais to eat whatever food they've been missing from home. They're not here to knock the socks off gringos, although they have become popular to the outside world in the last few years. People should eat whatever they want to eat at Sripraphai, maybe using the collective wisdom on CH to avoid dishes we know aren't usually good.

                            2. re: astoriaboy

                              The satay at Sri is good enough for my five year old son (and I've tasted it and thought that it wasn't half bad) and it keeps him occupied while the rest of us enjoy things that are a bit more adventuresome. he loves to go there--or get takeout--because he loves the "chicken on a stick" and so it allows us to frequent the restaurant often. If that isn't a testimonial, I don't know what is...

                              1. re: esteban

                                well...consider this your pup's first rec...under his advisement, i shall try the chicken satay at sri's and see what the deal is for myself :)


                              2. re: astoriaboy

                                yeah, gringo here: pad thai is mediocre.

                              3. re: mrnyc

                                Sripraphai is MOST DEFINITELY OVER-HYPED. I've been about 5 times and every single time I get mediocre dishes mixed in with the excellent dishes. I'm sorry -- but if 1/2 of everything is not great -- the restaurant is NOT GREAT, no matter how good the good stuff is.

                                Yes, Sripraphai is the best thai restaurant in NYC -- but that's not like saying it's the best thai restaurant in, say, Sydney or LA.

                                1. re: mrnyc

                                  I went to Sri the other day with Chinese, Indian and Ghanaian dining companions and everyone loved the meal, which included Penang curry, a while chili fish and the coconut chicken soup and a pumpkin custard from the dessert rack. The only mediocre thing was the Mussaman (?) curry. My past fave had been the watercress salad and my worst experience the pan-fried mussels (really tasteless). I've had stuff so spicy there that I couldn't taste it even if I could stand it. It had never occurred to me to order Penang curry since it's so common, but I'll definitely have it again. So it's uneven. My Chinese friend has also had highs and lows there, but we keep going back because when it's good, it's more exciting than anyplace else around.

                                  1. re: JH Jill

                                    funny, we have thought the mussaman curry was really, really good in the past. It is more like a malaysian curry than most of the thai dishes, with lots of sweet spices. What was the issue?

                                2. The green and jungle curries cannot be hyped enough. There is nothing like that in manhattan.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: NYJewboy

                                    Why is a 4 year old post being responded to? I don't get it, but I will state that the chicken satay is ALWAYS great at SRIP, gringo or not. I don't know where the bad rep came from...but, I've always enjoyed it. Also, the shrimp with garlic and pepper is great, and I used to order it years ago, as a substitution for the pork because it wasn't on the menu, and I'm glad to see that it has become a nightly special. I remember the table next to ours always wanting it, when they saw it at's like Thai shrimp scampi.

                                    1. re: janie

                                      Oh, these responses are 4 yrs. old. Funny.
                                      Wonder if theses people are even going to Sri anymore. If anyone out there still eats there, I'm wondering if Sripaphai is BYOB? Having a party there next week.

                                      1. re: mehalling

                                        I don't know if they let you bring your own, but they do sell wine and beer.

                                        1. re: mehalling

                                          They're not interested in letting you bring your own. They will either say its not allowed or give you a corkage fee that guarantees you'll want a stiff drink. Only one of my friends has been able to convince them otherwise and she's a very regular customer who brings very good wine in. Definitely ask in advance to discuss it with the owners/managers if you plan to bring anything in.

                                          1. re: mehalling

                                            Do they have any kind of private party space? Did you choose your dishes in advance or are you just going with a group and plan to order from the menu?

                                      2. I enjoy Sripraphai quite a bit, but anything I've ordered there I've had a better version of at Thai Kitchen in Woodhaven.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Brenz

                                          Just my opinion, BUT---you've got to be kidding me, thai kitchen is okay by takeout standards--but it in no way approaches the authenticity of Srip--you must like Americanized Sweet Thai stuff, because I can't fathom how the comparison could be made.

                                          1. re: janie

                                            I can't speak to authenticity. I can only speak to preference. The flavors of the noodle dishes satisfy me more.

                                            I'm not saying it's more real, just more pleasing. But then, I've tried Indian all over the city, and my favorite joints are still all on 6th street, so yeah, take my opinion with a grain of salt.

                                            1. re: Brenz

                                              I retract my claim. I just spent a week eating at Thai restaurants I'd never had, and the pad see yu at each was at least as good as Thai Kitchen. That said, they make great pad see yu there. So it's no longer the best I've had, but it's still up there.

                                              Thailand Kitchen
                                              86-05 Jamaica Ave, Queens, NY 11421

                                              1. re: Brenz

                                                good to hear; where did you go?

                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  Oh, just a couple of joints in Manhattan. One on 9th Ave, the other down in the Village. It was so long ago I've forgotten their names. Sorry, I should check this board more often.