Recently dined w/ GF at Sripraphai. One objective was to sample some of the most frequently-recommended dishes.
Dinner was accompanied by a 2001 German Riesling Kabinett which we brought given their free BYOB policy. Tasting notes follow:
GREEN MANGO SALAD: Very good with the wine. Very tasty. Probably would have liked it better if we didn't also have the sublime Watercress salad. Also, from previous dinner we both thought the house Papaya Salad was more interesting than the Green Mango. Note: how many venues even OFFER a green mango salad? very few.
CHINESE WATERCRESS SALAD w/ MISC. SEAFOOD: Delicious, minty.... just tastier than the Green Mango. Superb with riesling. GREAT "SNAPPY" TEXTURE. Loaded with nicely flavored shellfish chunks. We both rated this dish #1 among our favorites this evening.
TOM YOM SOUP (Shrimp): A very good example of this soup. Delicious flavor despite the short cuts with the chili paste that imparts the red tint. My #2 Rating, GF's #3.
PORK SHOULDER: From my notes: "an obnoxious shredded texture that detracts". GF writes: "The pork dish is better than the Pad Kra Pow which seems bland by comparison". GF's #2 favorite initially, though from memory she concurred about the unappealing texture.
PAD KRA POW (Basil Chicken): I definitely preferred this dish to the Pork Shoulder. Note: you must order this dish "chopped real Thai style" as the server attempted to offer it in chunks. This Ameri-Thai gesture was surprising. Good with wine. In the end I found this rendition authentic but only fair, quite uninspired. GF found it bland.
In the end we can wholeheartedly rec the Watercress Salad, Tom Yom Soup, and Papaya Salad. All are outstanding renditions, authentically prepared, and great with wine. The other dishes are less impressive.
Overall, while Sripraphai is a tremendous restaurant, I'm left with the impression that the superb authentic Thai venues in Chicago may dish-for-dish be the best in the country right now.