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Best Thai in Tokyo?

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first time post from a long time occasional lurker and a NYC (well, Jersey City) foodie...

I'm in Tokyo for a couple of weeks with my Japanese wife, and we're wondering if there are any cheap, great Thai places along the lines of Sripraphai in Queens. I've seen a couple of recommendations elsewhere for Kao Thai in Takanodababa, anyone been there? We're not looking for anything too fancy, just things like pad kra prow with genuine Thai spicing (holy basil), We're staying near Mitaka, but any neighborhood is welcome. Thanks in advance for any help!

-jon

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  1. This is a very tough one. You go to a place one time and it's great, next time it's been dumbed down for the local palate, or it's out of business. Believe it or don't; some of the best Thai food I've ever had in Tokyo was cooked by a Japanese guy named Chap, who worked in Phuket for a few years. His first place went under but he may still be cooking at a place called Tahiti:

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bi...

    One problem also is almost all restaurants used bottled lemon juice in place of fresh lime juice and it's just not the same thing.

    I hope someone comes up with some ideas on your question.

    1. Kao Thai wasn't very good the last time I was there, but they seem to have a high turnover of chefs, so maybe it's gotten better again.

      I've always had good luck at Keawjai in Meguro, which serves "Imperial Thai" cuisine and is near the embassy. It's not all that cheap though, and portions are big, so it helps to go with a group. They have a branch in Kinshicho that seems to also attract Thai customers, but I haven't eaten there myself.

      Plik Chee Fa in Nishi-Shinjuku is more home-style, and quite good, at least when I've been there. Krungtep in Shinjuku 2-chome (above Pit Inn) is also pretty good and authentic.

      Sawadee way up in Nakai is very down-to-earth and authentic, run by a little old Thai lady, although I don't know that I'd necessarily travel there from Mitaka.

      Most other places in town tend to be more tailored to local tastes, although some are pretty good.

      All of the above are listed here: http://www.bento.com/thairest.html

      1. Not sure where's the best Thai, but I do know one place you SHOULDN'T go to: Erawan in Roppongi. It served singularly the blandest, unauthentic Thai food I've ever had in recent memory!

        2 Replies
        1. re: klyeoh

          thanks for the feedback! I'll report back if and when we try places, Plik Chee Fa is probably first on the list.

          1. re: jonabbey

            Plik Chee Fa is actually quite good in terms of flavours. The pad grapow is even served with a fried egg on top, which isn't always the case in Japan. My only issue with the place is that the food isn't always as freshly cooked as it should be. The last time I went my gai pad grapow was lukewarm at best.

            But at least it tasted good!

        2. I would highly recommend KAFFIR LIME in Harajuku. The prices are not bad and the cooks are from Thailand. On the weekends there are usually lines so good to get there early. mmm getting hungry!!

          http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1306/A130...

          1. Is there a Cabbages and Condoms in Tokyo? I went to the one in Kyoto, and the flavours are pretty close to Thai. And they're not afraid of heat, even if you don't ask for it.

            1. Personal favorite would be Baan Kirao/バーン・キラオ in Shimokitazawa, it's highly authentic (down to the metal stools and plastic sheets), and great value for amazing Thai. There's a few other locations: Kunitachi,Shinjuku.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nrt

                I went to the branch of Baan Kirao in Shinjuku, but service is really rude there (and I've heard the same from others who have gone there). There's no reason to put up with it, since Krungtep is a minute away, and they have better food and nicer service for the same price.

              2. There are a couple of good places in Shibuya, first is ChaoThai, there are two locations, the food is very good and very authentic, also there is a branch of the Sawasdee chain in Dogenzaka, not too far from the ChaoThai. Tinun in Omote-sando is also very good, and very authentic. Kafir Lime in Harajuku is not Thai food, nor is Cay in Aoyama. The best Thai food in Tokyo can be found at Keawjai at the main shop in Meguro, it is Royal Thai meaning sophisticated and presented nicely but the flavors are real, it is also one of the most expensive Thai places in town, but worth it. They have a satelite shop in Shinjuku in the basement of the JR train station, more casual and smaller menu but just as good.
                In Ebisu the established Mai Thai is good enough but not fantastic. The Peach Fair is good food but the atmosphere is dreadful. The Jim Thompson places and the Mango Tree shops are not real Thai... Jai Thai terrace in Ebisu is not very good, neither is Erawan in Roppongi. There is a place in Roppongi called Bangkok which is quite good.
                I have travelled extensively in Thailand and went to cooking school there as well, have visited almost every Thai restaurant in Tokyo over the years, I am a fairly accurate and objective critic. Enjoy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: extravirgin

                  Great post!

                  1. re: extravirgin

                    Great! Chao Thai and Sawasdee in Shibuya sound promising.

                    By the way, the Keawjai in Shinjuku station just closed recently. I haven't been to the branch in Kinshicho yet, but it looks promising.

                    (And for the original poster, Peach Fair = Plik Chee Fa that I mentioned above - they have two names.)

                    1. re: Robb S

                      The branch of Keawjai in the basement of Lumine (in Shinjuku station) has been replaced by a different Thai restaurant, and the Chinese restaurant next to it has been replaced by a different Chinese restaurant. (Either that or I accidentally wandered into a parallel universe.)

                      The new place is called Khao San (03-5909-7450) and they advertise Bangkok street stall food (Bangkok yatai). So far (after trying four dishes) it seems to be about as good as Keawjai was, and they have dishes like Nam Phrik Kapi, which one doesn't see that often in Tokyo. They do take-out, and the four or five most popular dishes are ready to go immediately, although they'll prepare almost anything on the menu. (Not Nam Phrik Kapi though - apparently they're worried about liability issues if the stinky shrimp paste explodes in transit.)

                  2. Kaffir Lime in Harajuku and Baan Kirao in Shinjuku for sure - Baan Kirao goes crazy on the spicy though - even more so than in Thailand!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MissLambkins

                      Has anyone had any experiences with Sukhumvit Yaamyen in Akasaka?
                      They seem to have a lunch buffet from 11-3.
                      Seems to be owned by the same restaurant group as Tinun: http://spiceroad.co.jp//

                      Also, if anyone wants a cheaper Thai-sukiyaki experience there is a Coca (thai chain place) in Yurakucho that is nice. More expensive than in Thailand but with a very similar menu AFAIRemember

                      1. re: lost squirrel

                        I think Tinun is a franchise operation.

                        Coca here is indeed similar to the ones in Thailand, although I think in Thailand I've seen them advertised as "Cantonese sukiyaki." (The same Thai company also owns Mango Tree.)

                    2. Try Tom Yam Tinun in Yaesu underground shopping passage attached to Tokyo station. It is located at the end closest to Four Seasons (Ginza direction). Cheap, semi hole in the wall, but good athentic Thai. Lunch is busy so go either before 12 or after 1...