64-13 39th Avenue
near 64th street
I’ve always liked eating Thai but Sripraphai’s chefs transformed a soothing, coconut-rich food into an exciting, eye-opening cuisine. The cooks worked magic on the essential ingredients- the peanut, coconut, lemongrass, red peppers, – until each had a chance to shine. Unlike the Sripraphai’s food, the restaurant’s décor is nothing special. Wooden tables, wooden chairs, large windows, lots of sunlight.
We started our lunch with a bouncy pile of bean thread salad tangled with matchstick cut slices of tofu. On top sat carrots, green beans, and lacy cilantro. The lemony dressing gave the salad a kick and woke up my taste buds. I was ready for the meal.
Next, Waq ordered a vegetarian Tom-Yum soup. I don’t really like hot and sour soup, but I’m glad I tried Sripraphai’s. The sourness wasn’t a scrunch up your nose sour, but a more full-bodied, warming sour. (I would imagine lemongrass nectar to taste like this soup.) Flat juicy mushrooms and velvety soft tofu floated in the soup like lily pads; thin pink slices of a spicy ginger and burnished-wood colored peppers added color and bite.
I love drunken noodles, so we ordered those, too. Waq found these to be too peppery, but I liked that they weren’t syrupy with sauce, which can be a danger with drunken noodles. Instead they tasted spicy, sweet, and sour in equal proportions and weren’t too goopy or too dry. I used the golden blocks of tofu as tasty rest stops for my mouth, when I needed a break from the spice.
The stunner dish, our favorite, was the red curry. A paste of coconut milk, chilies, garlic, and crushed peanut covered the juicy bamboo shoots, Japanese eggplants, and crisp green beans. This curry didn’t consist of any fluid, but it was amazing. I’m a fan of the usual Thai curry but I find that the coconut milk usually bullies the other flavors and hogs the spotlight. Each bite of Sripraphai’s red curry continuously astounded me because the balance of flavors was so on target. The dish never slipped into monotony.
Sripraphai has an entire vegetarian menu in addition to its regular menu, with pages of soups, small plates, salads, noodles, veggies, and curries. It’s most definitely worth the (super short) trek into Queens, – take the 7 for twenty minutes, and exit at the Woodside stop. You’ll tumble into a neighborhood full of neatly arranged row houses and Thai, Mexican and Indian restaurants and grocery stores. MMmmm.
red curry: $7; drunken noodles: $7