New cook at Sripraphai?
I was at Sri Saturday night and had one of the best meals I had ever had there. BBQ beef salad, Roast duck in hot and spicy sauce and fried fish with green mango sauce. Everything was fresh and delicious. Got there around 9:15 and the place was packed.....so service was a bit slow but the food was definitely worth waiting for. Sounds to me like you may have hit them on an "off" night.
I've eaten there 50 times in the last 5 years and the last 10 visits were not any worse than the previous 40.
I think I've maaaaybe had two disappointing meals there overall, in those 50. Softshells a bit out of season we shouldn't have ordered once... Some disappointing drunken noodles once...
Context: A bad meal there is better than most Thai restaurants in NYC... And 48 out of the last 50 meals there are better than pretty much any other Thai place in NYC...
Regarding the place being packed, it really never is unless you insist on showing up during absolute primetime, say 7:30 on most nights... I think the complaints about having to wait in line at arguably the best Thai restaurant in NYC at 7:30 at night are a bit much... what do you expect?
Fun time to go: Sunday afternoon. It's hopping, a lot of people are curing hangovers, the food seems extra great at that time...
Favorite dish I never ordered until this year: Penang Curry, with beef or pork. Prettier presentation than what I'm used to there, and a perfect showcase of what I expect from Sripraphai.
Superlative: It's a conventional choice, but if you factor in price, flavor, everything, Sripraphai remains the best restaurant in Queens, at least among the ones I've been to...
A friend and I ventured out to Sripraphai last night (a rainy Monday evening), getting there around 7 or 7:15, and the place was barely even half-full. The food was amazing (except for the drunken noodles). It was one of the three or four best meals I've ever had at Sripraphai, although I've probably only been there about 25 times in all (I discovered Srip. maybe 4-6 years ago), since I live far away. So, if you believe the food quality is inversely proportional to how busy it is, then I recommend rainy Monday evenings.
They had two spectacular specials: Shrimp with garlic and pepper ($9) and soft shell crab with... basil and chile maybe? ($12.50). Those two were heavenly. (I'd say that they're better than sex, but my love life sucks anyway, so I'll say they were better than really, really excellent chocolate.) A couple of years ago, I ordered the shrimp with garlic and pepper based on a CH recommendation even though it wasn't on the menu or listed as a special, and thought it was just OK. This was before any of the expansions. Maybe they didn't have all the ingredients on hand at that moment. This time it looked the same but tasted like a completely different dish. Masterful. It tasted like they were cooked in something better than the best butter I've ever had. Maybe it was some kind of nut oil, since I have a serious nut addiction and any nut-based oil would probably taste like manna to me.
We also got penang curry with chicken, and of course the crispy watercress salad, and both were as good or better than ever. Only the drunken noodles disappointed. Once or twice, a few years ago, I got them and loved them, but since then they've been just OK or sometimes mediocre. This time they were maybe even more mediocre. Tasteless and slightly overcooked.
Our dishes also came in generous portions, back to the way it always used to be. We got relatively small portions on one of my other recent trips, a few months ago on a Friday or Saturday early evening when it was busy. Granted, that only happened to me once, IIRC. Anybody else experience this?
I rarely go to sripraphai when they're busy ( I try to go weeknight's at 6:00pm) but the last time I was there on a saturday night the portions id seem smaller. it was also one of the worst meals I've had there. I've been there 75-100 times in the past 10 years and I can count on one hand the number of bad meals.
When the Drunken Noodles are right, it's my second favorite dish (Pork Leg in chili and basil is #1), but it's the most inconsistent dish on the menu.
btw, Ike, you know me from the Burmese fair. I'm living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 6 months. The food at Sripraphai is better than half the restaurants here. And none of them do the variety that Sripraphai does.
re: el jefe
Thanks el jefe. Yes, I remember you. Thanks -- I'm glad to know that the drunken noodles are still great sometimes.
I should get out to Queens more often. It's a bit of a trek but that last meal at Sri was so good that I must go back again soon. Also I haven't been to Spicy & Tasty, so I must go there too. Feel free to e-mail me if you ever want to hang out. Maybe we should try to get a group of chowhounds together sometime. These places are fun to try with a group so we can all try a lot of dishes, family-style.