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Sep 8, 2009 07:17 AM

S&I - what to order?

Sorry if this has been covered before, but "S&I" gives frustratingly broad search results.

The general opinion on S&I is that it's not that great if you order off the English menu, which is exactly what I did as someone who doesn't read or speak Thai. Asking about Thai-language specials pictured on the wall just got a "you don't want that". I was very disappointed with the food we got (I ordered a spicy pork dish that was mostly fat, and my wife got burned pad see yoo), but given all the positive reviews I'm willing to try again. What should I order next time?

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  1. If you gently insist on ordering the thai dishes on the wall they will serve you them.

    Somewhere in the bowels of chowhound is a long ago thread discussing the chowhound interaction while trying to order authentic dishes and getting the classic reply: "Ohhhh no. YOU NO LIKE."

    Keep in mind some traditional Thai dishes can be pretty challenging to a Western palette. Fermented bamboo shoots (Dok Bua favorite) and crispy pork at S&I IS quite fatty, but in a good way. Most of the stuff in the wall photos is pretty good and authentic.

    If you like things spicy try the Thai: Pet Pet (hot hot) or Pet Ma (Thai hot) to affirm your chowish bona fides.

    1. I encountered this same phenomenon in my early visits to S&I (wrote about it in my Phoenix review from last year). You sort of have to talk the staff into it. Having been back a few times, they now remember me and I don't have to go through the rigmarole.

      The dish I often recommend is pad ka pow moo grob, spicy three-layer pork with basil (the crispy pork StriperGuy mentions): The cut of pork is similar to chicharron: like pork belly with some rind attached: fatty, bacon-y, crisp/chewy, with an insistent but not overwhelming chili fire. Amazing.

      10 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Sadly, that is exactly what I ordered! Maybe I just had an off night- very little spice, and the skin wasn't crispy at all but had that terrible mushiness of steaming happening where frying was supposed to happen, like a too-crowded pan. Oh well! Maybe this just isn't my place. Or maybe I had one too many at Drink previously, although "slightly tipsy" and "large amounts of pork at a cheap Thai restaurant" are usually a match made in heaven!

        1. re: bobot

          Puzzling: I just had that dish like, 10 days ago, and it was nothing like that. I'd give it another go!

          1. re: bobot

            I had this dish as well about a week ago and I agree with bobet. Most of the pork in mine was way over fried and came out bone dry and crunchy (the meat, not the skin.) There were a few pieces that were had meat, fat and skin and weren't overcooked and they were excellent, but most of the meat was very dry. The sauce and spices mixed with the noodles were very good though

            1. re: tysonmcneely

              Sometimes you get what you pay for! ;-)

              1. re: tysonmcneely

                Noodles? You are talking about something else. Pad ga pow moo krob is not a noodle dish.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Check the menu- house specialties are served with white rice, brown rice, rice noodles, egg noodles, or whole wheat noodles. I asked the server what goes with it traditionally and he said rice, but you could order it over noodles.


                  1. re: bobot

                    Aha, I see. I think the menu demonstrates what I mean: there's a section of noodle dishes like pad woon sen, which are rather different things from a stir-fry where noodles are an option. Just want to make sure we're talking about the same dish!


                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      yeah, I'm 100% certain I ordered the Pad ga pow moo krob(crispy fried pork belly in chili sauce), I just got it with rice noodles instead. It seems like a lot of people love that dish, but some of the people who have just tried it for the first time (like myself) found the pork belly way too over cooked. For whatever reason, there were like 2-3 nicely cooked pieces in there that were very good, but the rest was not good. Maybe one of the S&I veteran's should try that dish soon and see if it was gone downhill?

            2. re: MC Slim JB

              I had that highly touted pork dish and was dissapointed - pork was way overdone and dry.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I must try this dish. My wife and daughter are big Tofu fans any dishes that stand out. Thanks.

              2. i've always had a pleasant experience at s&i thai and have never had a problem ordering off the thai menu. weird

                some of my favorite dishes are som tum (green papaya salad), gai yang (bbq chicken with sticky rice), pad ka na moo krob (crispy fried pork belly with chinese broccoli), pad ga pow moo krob (crispy fried pork belly in chili sauce), kao nar ped (roast duck with brown sauce, chili sauce, and pickled ginger), kao ka moo (braised pork leg on rice), and pla duk pad ped (crispy fried catfish in red chili paste with thai eggplant)

                you should also check out the little boxes of homemade thai cookies available at the front counter. they're a bit on the pricey side but good

                4 Replies
                1. re: galangatron

                  Thanks for the list of worthwhile dishes! I suspect they don't give you guff because of the "Adventurous Eater" tattoo on your forehead. Good to know about those cookies; I never noticed those.


                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    The cookies are TOTALLY amazing. I posted about them a while back. Some are rather funky to the Western palate, some are not. The little flower shaped ones are most approachable.

                    I think I asked who made them and they said the baker was at one point the pastry chef to the King of Thailand.

                  2. re: galangatron

                    Thanks for the list! I'll try a couple of these next time I'm in the 'hood.

                    1. re: galangatron

                      Yeah, same experience here. I don't know a word of Thai but I just point at stuff on the wall and say "that one." Maybe it's because I never tried to ask exactly what's in stuff, I just went for it...

                      An additional recommendation: if you want something milder, they make the best fried rice I've ever had.

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Can someone clarify where this joint is?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: litchick

                          On Brighton Ave. about a block off of Harvard St. towards N. Beacon St near Gitlo's Dim Sum Bakery and the new El Salvadoran place.

                          My favorites:
                          Crispy pork belly with Chinese broccoli (pad ka na moo krob)
                          Tom Yum noodle soup with ground pork--hot, sour, salty, sweet, just like the book.
                          Som Tum (without crab)
                          Pad Si Eew

                          I have yet to try a curry, but that's next on my list.