I moved into my new place last night and everything is still too chaotic for eating in, so we've been eating out these past couple of nights. We tried Am Thai/Chili Basil tonight at McDonald and Albemarle, and I was very, very pleasantly surprised.
Like most people who post on this board, I am a Sripraphai partisan, and I turned into an insufferable Thai food snob after eating there, refusing to patronize Thai restaurants I had been to previously.
The problem with that is like the investment advice against putting all your eggs into one basket: diversify your portfolio! Unfortunately, I haven't had Thai food in New York City to compete with Sripraphai until tonight.
Am Thai is really small and is essentially a take out/delivery operation, with three small tables that only seat two apiece. We ordered the curry puffs (based on a recommendation from this Board), the laab with chicken, and drunken noodles with tofu and we emphasized that we really, really like spicy food.
True to their name, the curry puffs were puffy, with a pakora-like outside and nice vegetable/curry filling. A dipping sauce of honey and cukes complemented it well.
The drunken noodles actually were spicy, a rarity in non-Sripraphai New York Thai, with nice broad noodles. The laab was that elusive concoction of lime, red onions, spices, and bits of chicken (reminded me of a dish I had in Evanston, Illinois called "one-bite chicken) and also satisfyingly spicy. When we told the chef (who's right there; the whole restaurant is the size of a small studio apartment) how much we liked it, she gave us some freshly-made sticky rice, which was also quite good.
The bottom line? Sripraphai always has a place in my heart, and I think that it is still the best Thai in town. But it's no longer the ONLY Thai in town for me. Which is good given that my new home is further from Sripraphai than before.
P.S. The staff was extremely friendly. When we told them how much we liked the food and how we liked it spicy, they said that a lot of people complain about the spiciness. Who are these people?!! They ruin it for the rest of us, and probably cause a downgrading in the quality of Thai -- as well as other cuisines -- in general. I hope that people who like places like Sripraphai make it clear to the staff that spicy is good!
P.P.S. One drawback about the menu is no pork, which I like in Thai food. The chef said that she makes pork dishes for herself, but refuses to put it on the menu. My hunch is that she's catering to the large Muslim and Orthodox Jewish populations in the neighborhood.
Am Thai Chili Basil
359 McDonald Avenue
Brooklyn, New York