I unexpectedly had a chance to see the doubles and men's singles finals at the U.S. Open with a friend today. After the matches, we went to Sripraphai - the first time there for both of us. We assured the waitress that we really wanted Thai spicy and could handle it. We could and did. We got som tom, nam pla, and jungle curry with beef. For dessert, we got pumpkin custard and coconut ice cream.
The som tom was by far the best I've had in New York. It was very limey, all the flavors were in great balance, and it had a good deal of heat from two types of chilis, both very hot: a mellower small green pepper and a dry-hot smaller red pepper. The nam pla was also by far the best I've had in New York: The dipping sauce was delicious and full of flavor, while the fishcakes were moist and not hard, as is so often the case. I liked the jungle curry a good deal, but my dining partner wasn't crazy about it. It's a very herby dish which I liked more as I continued eating it, but not everyone will like its taste, which some might describe as "offbeat." The desserts were both excellent. It was a very good rendition of the pumpkin custard, and the coconut ice cream was more of a sorbetish ice milk, and a damned good one at that. It was particularly satisfying to have these cooling, soothing desserts after eating food that was really hot and not wimpy stuff adulterated for timid Westerners.
My dining partner was happy to have gone but isn't tempted to return unless she has another reason to be in Queens, as it's a 1 1/2-hour subway trip from her Brooklyn digs. She also cares about decor more than I do, and found it lacking. I didn't give a damn about the decor; this Thai restaurant is by far the best I've eaten in in New York. I won't go often either, as I live in the East Village, but I sure look forward to whenever I have a chance to go back. I want to try their tom yam soup, some of the other appetizers, and other entrees. I'd like to go back repeatedly.
Oh, and it was cheap: Total bill, $21.65 + tip!
By the way, the best way to get there is to take the 7 train to the 61 St. stop and walk 4 blocks along Roosevelt Av. to where that avenue intersects with 65 St. and 39 Av. Turn left on 39 Av., and you will see the restaurant perhaps 1/3 of the way down the block. If you're on the same side as the Thai video store, cross the avenue.