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REAL thai food

  • b

I feel like every experience I've had with thai food has been like a no-contact lapdance. A tantalizing and yet somehow hollow and unfulfilling shadow of the real thing. I am looking for real thai food in NYC. I'm talking about a place that will serve me things like fried cobra bones or cuttlefish with bird chilies roasted in its own ink. I want to be able to order things made from cuts of pork barely known outside southeast asia. I want dishes so spicy, I'll be regretting having eaten them 6 months after the fact.

I am an avid biker so I'm willing to venture from my grotto in washington heights into queens, brooklyn, the bronx, city island, rikers, governers island, etc.


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  1. venture into queens.

    there's Sripraphai, which is great, and then Zabb, which is even more adventurous.

    They are in the jackson heights/woodside area of queens.

    both have been covered extensively on this board and in other media. do a search for them.

    good luck!

    1. Have you been watching too many Anthony Bourdain shows?

      1 Reply
      1. re: csw

        Haha. I was thinking the same thing!

      2. I have been to Thailand and studied at several culinary schools there and I have never seen "fried cobra bones or cuttlefish with bird chilies roasted in its own ink". Where have you heard of Thai dishes like that? Thai food is not always that intensly spicy... except the salads, known as Yam which can be the spiciest of their foods.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JMF

          When I lived in Thailand the spiciest food I had was Vietnamese. But there were few thai meals that did not feature some heat or the opportunity to eat peppers till your eyeballs sweated. No fried cobra bones for me either. I do miss the fried chicken nuckles though. Still have not found them here. I only ate them at one place in Thailand so I don't know if they were an anomaly in my eating adventures.

        2. j
          John-Paul Pagano

          Love your analogy, and your fantasy dishes. There's really only one thing that needs to be said in reply: "Sripraphai, in Woodside/Jackson Heights". For the sake of thoroughness, though, I could also mention Arunee, which is actually in Jackson Heights.

          One respondent mentioned "Zabb", which I've never heard of. Since she claims it is "more adventurous" than Sripraphai -- which is like saying that a car is "more sporty" than a Ferrarri -- I would look into it.

          64-13 39th Ave. (Queens)
          between 64th and 65th Sts.

          Arunee Thai Cuisine
          37-68 79th St. (Queens)
          at Roosevelt Ave

          1 Reply
          1. re: John-Paul Pagano

            Zabb offers northeastern thai (Issan) food and is located on Roosevelt just a few blocks east of Sripraphai. It is rather differnt and very good (avoid the curries)

          2. Also consider Arharn Thai, 32-05 36th Ave, Astoria. Someone mentioned on another board that Thai's consider this the best and most authentic. Just passing on the information. It's on my list but haven't been.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bill C.

              I LOVE Aharn. I have never had a bad meal there, and have decided to ask for the Thai menu for Thai people next time. The mussels are outstanding, as are the duck dishes and whole fish dishes.

            2. Green Papaya in Flushing Chinatown is great.

              1. Though your dishes are theoritical I know what you mean . Always a slight disappointment here in greater NY for authentic Thai. Go to Wondee on 9th Ave between 52nd and 53rd. the smaller Wondee on the east side of the street. There is a Thai menu and one for farang. It you can describe your favorite dish not on the menu by thai name they can make it and it will be real thai taste.

                1. Like many have recommended before I got here, you'll find plenty of delicious Thai food at Sriprapai. You won't, however, find fried cobra bones or cuttlefish in its ink. That's because those dishes came from Thailand of your imagination, and not the one I (and the cooks at Sriprapai) came from. I'm not saying things like cobra bones were never eaten in Thailand--I'm sure a starving jungle man may have done it once or twice, but that hardly qualifies them as an indicator of authenticity.

                  Also, not all Thai food is spicy. Just because a Thai dish isn't spicy doesn't mean it's authentic, just as adding a fistful of chili peppers into a random dish doesn't make it "authentically Thai".

                  1. They say Sripraphai is supposed to be "the best." And most will recommend it because it's the highest Zagat rated among Thais. But if you want to stay in Manhattan, I highly recommend Pam Real Thai. It is very authentic and very flavorful, not too sweet, and has plenty of spice and sourness. It's also cheap.