As a Hell's Kitchen Resident (holla HK!), I quickly became familiar with a local Thai restaurant called Pam Real Thai. Ninth Ave between 40th and 55th Streets is literally Little Thai-land. In fact, Pam Real Thai was the first meal I ate as an official NYC resident so I suppose it carries some sentiment in that regard as well. But, hold up for one second?
This place is insane. And crazy authentic (Disclaimer: While I have not yet had the pleasure of traveling to Southeast Asia, I have read on numerous other reviews of this restaurant, Thai people hailing Pam's authenticity. Saying it's not Americanized Thai Pam's serving up. It's Thai Thai.).
Don't come to Pam Real Thai for the ambiance. Unless of course, you're like me, and find something about the no frills joint to be funnily charming and cozy. But for God's sake, come here for the food. It's cheap, too! With most dishes coming in at the $10 and under mark. (Note: cash only)
Thai food is known for its balance of the the "five fundamental flavors": spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. And as I've said before, any dish that can successfully marry all five of these flavor notes at once will be something special; lively; memorable. It's the reason why I can't go more than two weeks without satisfying my Pam craving. Dangerous, I know.
To start things off, I highly recommend selecting a few appetizers for the table to share. Some highlights include the steamed chive dumplings, the steamed thai dumplings, and pork larb (hot, hot, hot!). While I've yet to try the green papaya salad (I know, how dare I?!), I've heard all good things on that front.
The cheap wine is fine and they're heavy handed pourers but go for a Singha. It'll feel more like you've actually been swept away to Thailand for the night and there's something about the cold, crisp, bubbly brew that goes perfectly with anything on their seriously extensive menu. It cuts through the creamy curries and balances out the sweet dipping sauces.
As far as the mains are concerned, I end up ordering the same dish every time I go. Without fail. I swear, I humor myself sometimes by reading into the menu to see if there's something else that sparks my interest. And while there's tons more that does, I love my red pumpkin curry with shrimp way, way, way too much to not order it. I'm not going to get into it. Just order it. TRY it.
Also tasty is the Pad See Eil: stir fried long flat noodles, with chinese broccoli, meat of your choice, and a sweet soy sauce. Soft, crunchy, sweet, and slightly indulgent. What I would do for chinese broccoli to be available in the regular grocery store! (Reminder to myself: must ask produce guy about this...)
Pam Real Thai's also known for their whole fish entrees served up in a number of different ways with different sauces and accouterments. Again, I still need to try one of these guys! Damn you, coconut curry.
It's just one more reason amongst many to go back. So who's coming with??
Pam Real Thai
404 W. 49th St., nr. 9th Ave.
New York, NY, 10019