Take the Princess to Queens: Family Foodie Adventures at Sripraphai

Foodie moms and dads: 

Don’t reheat another Terrance Brennan Fresh Direct meal this Tuesday. Don’t rush through another early dinner at Gramercy Tavern to make it home by nanny quitting time this Monday. And please, please don’t order another barbecue sampler from Brother Jimmy’s this Saturday. Get off the island and take your little princess—or sweet prince—to Queens for ethnic adventure dining! Where else can a night of gastro-fun be had for far less than you’d spend on that Barnard babysitter and a first quartino of Barolo at Babbo?

Ethnic food may not always be easy on the baby’s digestion, but if your little one is still at the Simulac stage, habanero intolerance isn’t an issue. For our crowd, Queens is a gustatory EPCOT without the lines, giant mice and risk of sunburn. And you don’t need to book a month ahead. Ethnic restaurants may intimidate spontaneous solo diners and first daters, but they’re almost always friendly to families who just show up; we’re their mainstay clientele. In fact, I’d hazard to guess you get better service with baby in tow.

Of all the options on the 7 line, I’d start with for Sripaphai. It offers clean, articulate and utterly delicious food at an outrageous value. It’s also well-known and packed, so start early and stay late. Once you have a table, order one round of food and make subsequent selections only when supplies run low.

Don’t get lost in the vast menu. Just pick your usual Thai favorites and discover how much better they can taste off the island. Flavors pop here like they never will in the Siamese slophouses of Yorkville; and it’s not from MSG. Sripaphai simply uses better and fresher ingredients without flourish or fetish. Chiles, herbs and sauces come through in Surround Sound because they’re well-sourced and well-balanced.

Nota bene: Don’t order anything made from grapes, no matter how thirsty you get. The house-special “Burgandy” ($16/liter) clearly isn’t what has Jean-Georges Vongerichten coming back. This ethanol substitute might solve our energy crisis, but it tastes like ass in a glass. Neither grape nor place, it’s merely a misplaced state of mind. This isn’t Tabla or Shun Lee, restaurants that make a compelling, if costly, case for Asian food and wine, so stick instead to light lager beer. For the abstemious, Thai iced coffee and tea are two sensible non-boozy ways to beat the heat.

Drunken noodles are obscenely good, so double down on them for starters or for leftovers. Green curry is also a must, and will certainly help you put on a happy face. Of course, it will also give you the flushed face, copious spice sweats and fast running nose of a dedicated adventure diner. Don’t worry, these are well-earned and respected red badges of courage. Finally, fried tofu is definitely worth getting, but don’t start a Lord of the Flies fracas over the last piece. Soy beans are not scarce; preserve your hard-won connubial bliss by ordering more for you and your greedy bite-stealing spouse. Beyond that, eat just about anything, except cockles and frog legs. The former aren’t too fresh, and the latter are ground, yes, ground, into a reptilian Nestle crunch.

Desserts, like good cockles in Queens, remain a dream deferred. They’re just not what’s good to eat here. Durian fruit is stunt food, not fun food. The sticky rice treats are fine, as are the various gelatinous options made from grass and coconut, but baby pap is best left to babies. Enjoy a Thai Iced Coffee instead, then pay up, head home, put baby to bed, and kick back with a Calvados or two. You’ll be up at 7, so don’t make it three, and please, please don’t open a bottle of Burgandy.

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6 Responses to “Take the Princess to Queens: Family Foodie Adventures at Sripraphai”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    If at all possible, I think you actually overrated the Burgandy.

  2. Food Fan Says:

    Do they up the spice quotient for natives? I found some dishes borderline bland.

  3. Spicy Mina: Porn Star Name, Rock Star food « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] give this itinerary a whirl: Go to Tabla and and Jean Georges one weekend and Spicy Mina and Sripaphai the next. My bet is that your appreciation of the the former is enriched by the muse, foil and […]

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  5. rolikirus Says:

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  6. rolikirus Says:

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