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May 13, 2008 08:48 PM

Best papaya salad?

Where can you get the best papaya salad in NYC?

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  1. Vietnamese or Thai? I like the green papaya salad with grilled beef and shrimp chips at Pho Viet Huong on Mulberry St. Or for Thai, I like the Som Tum (spelling?) at Pam's Real Thai Food (49th off 9th Ave) with dried shrimp and order a side of rice to go with that. Tell Pam that you want yours to be prepared authentic Thai style or you will not get the heat or the dried shrimp. I don't know if these are the best but they are cheap and really darn good!

    1 Reply
    1. re: midtown diner

      Mm... those sound like good options... I've always had Thai style. I didn't even know the Vietnamese type existed. But I will try your recs for sure, thanks.

    2. The green papaya salad at Village Mingala in the E. Village is yum too. It is Burmese restaurant (which is sort of a fusion b/w indian and chinese tasting). It's good. Sort of spicy, lemongrass, toasted garlic.

      1 Reply
      1. I also love the papaya salad at Pam Real Thai--the best I've had, personally. It has a great sweet/spicy balance with enough kick to be refreshing and wake up your taste buds. Peanuts, shrimp, green papaya,'s addictive stuff, and the papaya is sliced thin enough that it's delicate instead of fiber-y. If you go...beware that it's a hole-in-the-wall with formica tables and grungy decor, but the food is top-notch (also loved the crispy duck and just about everything). My friends who've been to Srih Pai Pan (spelling?) in Queens said they like Pam Real Thai better...which says a lot. Darn, now all I can think about is green papaya salad.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greenmarketgirl

          I am a big fan of the version at Sripraphai. If Pam is better, I will definitely have to try it.

          Filipino green papaya pickles (atchara) at Cendrillon are also pretty good.

        2. Nusra in Elmhurst makes 2 styles: Lao and Thia. I am not sure what the difference is because I just get the Thai (with dried shrimp). I crave it so much that I have to break the pattern when I go there and try the Lao. I bet its great.

          4 Replies
          1. re: NYJewboy

            I don't know if Thai's make the differentiation or not. It has been a long time since I was in Thailand but I recall the crab and number of peppers were the options. I would order it and ask for no preserved crab(thai style I believe). At Nusura you can get it with crab or without. Yuo can also order it with crab 'water' included which will turn the juice dark purple to black. You have to really like the preserved crab to go for that. I don't. It is extremely salty to my taste.

            1. re: dhs

              In Thailand, most Thai's who order Som Tam with the preserved crab do not intend to try to eat the pieces of crab. It's put in just for the flavoring it lends to the other ingredients.

              1. re: ThaiNut

                Yeah, don't eat the preserved crab. There are versions you can get with raw crab that is meant to be eaten. I have had it at Chao Thai with blue crabs.

                I was speaking with my GF about this last night and as she understood it the Lao style had nothing to do with the crab being included or not as I had thought. She felt the Lao style had an extra ingredient of shrimp paste but was not sure. A quick google search seems to support that shrimp paste is used in Lao style Som Tum.

                My personal experience is that most Thai restaurants I have had SomTom at do a good job at making this dish. Usually the comparisons are about the level of heat the dish had not the flavor. BUT I think that many people do not eat SomTom (or most salads) with sticky rice and should give it a try. I think it adds a great deal to the enjoyment of the dish. Tear off a little rice from the mound and use the rice like a utensil to pick up some salad with the rice or let it soak up some of the flavorful juices. Great for sharing with a friend, a little bit of novelty if it is new to you, and just plain YUMMMY!!!

                1. re: dhs

                  It's not shrimp paste (kapi) that is put into lao style Som Tam. It is a fermented fresh water fish paste called Plaa Raa. It's akin to shrimp paste only in smelling like death warmed over if you are foolish enough to stick your nose into the container, but it adds an interesting flavor to whatever it is put into.

                  Yeah, a container of sticky rice to make into little balls to be dipped into the som tam juice is heaven on earth.