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Jul 20, 2006 04:50 PM

Training our Palates for Thailand

Hey Everyone,
My GF and I are going to Thailand in Decemeber and we've heard the food is quite spicy. We eat spicy food here of all kinds and will travel almost anywhere for the good stuff. Any suggestions for the most authentic Thai that will help us get ready for the real deal in December? If you guys think we should just go for the most authentic or best Thai, I can get that info by searching this board but if you have a place you think would be especially good for us, let us know. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Nothing in the states will prep you for the Thai street vendors. Our 10 is their 5. I suggest buying some Thai bird chillies and incorporating them into your food to build up your tolerance. Some Thai people eat these things straightup for more "flavor"!

    Be sure to hit the pad thai, papaya salad, and watermelon shakes when you're there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: specialja

      Sripraphai can come pretty close though. My two weeks in Thailand, my stomach hurt every day from the spice, but it was worth it. BTW, in Bangkok, at least, the government provide purified water taps for the street vendors to use, so it adds an extra level of safety.

    2. Although I didn't eat any street food, I only found one or two things that were very spicy, even though I asked for it very spicy in Thai. With the possible exception of street food, where the spice level is already predone, they see a white person coming (Farang in Thai parlance) and tone it down, even if you ask for it spicy. By the way, "pet mak mak, ging ging" means make it very spicy, I'm not kidding.

      2 Replies
      1. re: saeyedoc

        I agree wtih saeyedoc - I just returned from a three week trip to Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai a couple of weeks ago, and though we found some absolutely incredible food (did not eat at the street vendors - that seemed even shadier than I had anticipated), I really did not find the food overly spicy, even when we asked for it to be so. BTW, if you have time, do the cooking school at the Oriental hotel - it's about 3 hours and I believe they have them every day.

        1. re: saeyedoc

          You are right on about food in Thailand being toned down for "farang!" I travelled with some friends from Indonesia, and we were given the regular spice food that the locals get.

          As for authentic thai food in NYC, I think you are SOL.

        2. Hello,

          I've been to Thailand three times and most recently in November. Not everything is super spicy. We ate everything from street food to restaurants. In Chiang Mai, we ate a lot of street food that they actually serve at Jeeb (Orchard Street on the Lower East Side). We recognized a lot of the Thai tapas on Jeeb's menu, that I haven't found at other Thai restaurants.

          For more authentic Thai food in NYC, I would recommend Sripriphai in Woodside, Queens as well as Zabb, which is about ten blocks away on Roosevelt Avenue. You can take the #7 train to get to both places.

          Unfortunately, you don't get authentic Thai food in Manhattan.

          I can give you many, many food recommendations for Thailand but I don't think I can post them in the Manhattan board.

          1. i concur w/ the following:

            -- there is no *great* Thai food in Manhattan, and you should go to Woodside, Queens...

            -- Jeeb can be very good and if you ask them, very seriously, to make the food the spicy, they will...

            But, any chowhound who goes to Thailand and doesn't eat the street food is missing out on one of the best culinary experiences on the planet...i was there for five weeks, and i ate street food at least three times a day...neither my gf nor i got sick...many people believe that you are more likely to get sick eating in a sitdown restaurant than at a popular street stand (and i tend to agree)...go there and have a blast...for more specific recs, post on the International board and i and others can direct you to some fun places...

            Also, if you are merely interested in training your palate, eat other spicy food while you are in can go to Grand Sichuan and Wu Liang Ye and you'll be generally able to get spicier dishes there than at almost all Manhattan Thai places...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Simon

              I just came back from a month all over thailand, and basically it seemed like if you just say 'spicy or chile' in thai, they will make it spicy. Also most places have several chile concotions on the table so you can adjust it yourself.

              In reference to the street stalls, those places turn over product so quick its hard to get sick. they get there food that morning and often several times throughout the day, and I didnt get sick once. however, i did eat a raw fermented pork sausage in a sit down restaurant(great idea right)one nightmare of a week later, 20 pounds lighter, and still a very rough day once a week, I think i got trichinosis(not sure I havent been to the doctor yet cause I dont have health insurance. another great idea right)

              it was totally worth it though, the food is that good

            2. I agree with Simon. There is nothing wrong with eating street food in Thailand. My husband and I ate everywhere and we were fine. I've never been sick in Thailand. Street food is a way of life in Southeast Asia and is usually even cleaner because you can see what ingredients they are using, watch them cook it and figure out that it is clean. If it weren't clean, you wouldn't have the locals lining up at the best vendors, including people that double park in fancy cars.

              Also note that all our famous NYC chefs have eaten street food all over Southeast Asia and have brought back their interpretations and artistic versions to the NYC dining scene: Jean-Georges, etc. Jean-Georges cooked in Thailand for many years and has had street food along with Anthony Bourdain, Gary Kunz, etc. One upscale version is Spice Market. Don't underestimate the quality of street food cuisine.

              I like to eat at the counter at Jeeb and if you tell them that you like it authentic, they can usually oblige. The owner is from Bangkok.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sfslinky

                i've thought about eating at the counter at Jeeb but its so tiny and looks uncomfortable...but perhaps i'll try it...

                1. re: sfslinky

                  That's good to know, because the food I had there was totally lame.

                  1. re: sfslinky

                    Is there something at Jeeb that was particularly good? I'm looking at their menu, and nothing jumps out as too unusual.

                    1. re: mary shaposhnik

                      i recommend asking them to cook you something not on the menu...i usually ask for a green curry with chicken and *without* coconut milk (done as a stir fry dish), "really Thai spicy"...

                      the cook's name is Lat (Thai woman, maybe in her 50's)...if you chat with her and tell her what you like, she'll cook you anything...or chat with your waiter/waitress and explain sweetly and affably that you want the real stuff and ask them to concoct something...