I paid my first visit to Pongsri in Chinatown last night. While my expectations were low given that this was a Manhattan Thai restaurant I was still dissapointed.
First off, the entire dining room had a rotten smell to it. It was not the smell of nam pla, but something altogether different yet just as unpleasant. Kind of like wet dog.
My friend and I started off with a green papaya salad. The salad was presented on a bed of iceberg lettuce and served with a wedge of McDonald's-quality unripe tomato. The salad itself was underspiced and under-sauced--the strongest flavor element was the peanuts crumbled on top. Strangly, the salad contained raw string beans, which I have never had in a green papaya salad before.
We also shared an order of chicken larb and a green curry. The larb, again served on a lovely bed of iceberg lettuce and unripe tomato, was the best dish which is not saying much. It at least had a little note of chilis to it, but there was far too little lime juice in the sauce to balance the saltiness of the nam pla.
The green curry was horrible. The curry was extremely watery, underspiced and lacking any complex notes of ginger or shrimp paste. The vegetables were mostly bamboo shoots, with some red and green peppers thrown in as well as purple asian (not thai) eggplant. The green bell peppers, something I have never had in a Thai curry before, were a bizzare inclusion as they have a very bitter taste that clashed with the other flavors. The asian eggplant was not even fully cooked through!
The only enjoyable part of the meal was that Singha beer was reasonably priced at $3 a pop. I won't be going back as clearly nobody at the restaurant cared about the food they serve.
I left angry and trudged home through the driving rain, dreaming of Sripraphai...
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