For many self-professed NYC foodies, there’s little reason to leave the island of Manhattan when it comes to finding great food. However if you talk to them about Thai, they will for once admit that they have in fact been to Queens…. Woodside to be precise, and dined at the shrine of New York Thai cuisine, Sripraphai.
I have no problem in admitting that I live in Queens, and have explored many great dining destinations in this borough. However, I have not bought into the hype that is Sripraphai. After visiting both the Queens location and the Williston Park location out in Nassau County, I still do not understand what is so special about this place.
Perhaps equally famous to their food is Sripraphai’s no reservation policy. Located minutes away from the 7 train and plenty of associated foot traffic, on most week nights there are always a line stretching out the door. It’s a pretty large restaurant, with an outdoor area in the rear garden that are quite nice for warm summer days. The Williston Park version of the restaurant is smaller, less uniquely decorated, but has one neat feature: a small private parking lot along with plenty of street parking.
Sriraphai serves a very familiar menu. Classics such as Laab, Tom Yong Soup, and curry of various colors and flavors were all available. The one-flavor suits all proteins style of Thai-cuisine dominates most of the menu (pick a shade of curry, then pick a type of meat). There are also more unique dishes, such as the raw shrimp, soft shell crab, and fishes fried whole.
Perhaps the most memorable dish would be the raw shrimp. Even though I’ve consumed my share of raw seafood, consuming a grayish-blue tiger shrimp drenched in garlic and lime juice was something new.
The curries are good, but not spectacular. I always feel that Thai food allows the diner way too much flexibility, instead of letting the chef showcase how he believes a dish should be cooked and seasoned. With a menu that reads like a tome, would a chef be able to refine the dishes and deliver the optimal flavor of the ingredients? Imagine what the chefs at Sripraphai can do if they cut the menu down to 2 pages, it’ll certainly be easier to prep, be easier to cook, and perhaps bring more excitement than a green shade of curry with…. um….. chicken. Kin Shop has a much abridged version of your typical Thai menu, and the chef really makes each dish shine.
Maybe it’s the subway ride into unfamiliar territory that makes a meal feel better than it is? I’m perfectly aware that I’m going to be slammed for this post, and the fan boys and girls will tell me that I know little about Thai food. This post isn’t about inciting controversy, it’s more about my disappointment. I wanted to sing the praises of Sripraphai, but it failed to impress me.
What does this rating mean?
64-13 39th Ave
Queens, NY 11377
280 Hillside Avenue
Williston Park, NY 11596