You know those friends who are really freakin honest? The ones who actually tell you when you look fat, act cranky, or talk way too much about Jersey Shore? You love them because you really trust them. This is one of those friends:
Jesse and I are truly kindred spirits, and not only because we are both fabulous leos with great singing voices, but because we have always believed in and stayed loyal to each other. Jesse makes me laugh like none other, and I was so excited to meet up with him for his birthday lunch.
We went to one of our FAVORITE restaurants on the face of the PLANET, Pam Real Thai. There is an offshoot of this restaurant called Pam Real Thai Encore, and both places are equally fabulous. This restaurant is casual, dirt cheap, and so delicious….well, this is what it makes me do:
That’s right. It makes me so thrilled i look constipated from the joy.
That is how much i love this restaurant.
Pam Real Thai is a bare bones establishment-laminated menus, sparse decorations, cash only. You don’t come here for atmosphere, you come here for food.
*And, if you are Thai, for special kinds of food. Many times I dine here, I see Thai people with condiment caddies of spices and sauces and special menus written in Thai. This is stuff that I have never gotten, and for which, I am embarrassed to say, I have never asked. I should really just bite the bullet and ask for this stuff and the next time I go. I am weirdly scared that I will be denied the special menu, but even I know that I am being ridiculous-and I am DYING to try the food that Pam considers the most authentic!!!*
Jesse got the Pad See Eil (Stir Fried Beef with Chinese Broccoli and Gravy over Stir Fried Flat Rice Noodles)
Do you see that? That is what makes a 24 year old man cry from joy on his birthday. It was, as always, AMAZING! The rice noodles are chewy, and slippery with the sweet, salty, pungent gravy that is redolent of fish sauce, soy, and palm sugar. The beef pieces are not those tough, meager cuts one gets in lesser establishments, but garlicky marinated steak. And the Chinese broccoli is in between broccoli raab and spinach-toothsome at the stalk, and silky smooth at the leaf. Its’ slight bitterness cuts through the delightful fattiness of the dish, and at once perfects this totally sublime noodle dish. The NY Times reccomends this dish, and so do I! And what’s more, so does Jesse-and you already know by now that if he didn’t like it, he would just say so
My standard dish here is the Pad Kee Mao-Stir Fried Meat and Flat Rice Noodles with Basil, Onions, Bell Peppers, and Chili. This probably sounds like a relative to Pad Thai. But does Pad Thai make you do this?
That’s right-this baby is one of the most mouth searing dishes i have ever had in NYC. I HIGHLY reccomend you bring tissues for when your eyes start to tear and your nose starts to run. And yet, it is so insanely delicious, you can’t help but eat through the pain. Of course, you could order it less spicy, but why would you want to offend me? You learn to sort of love the pain! it makes you a masochist…sorry, too much info…
This dish is insanely delicious!!! Especially if you get the pork as your meat-the pork’s sweetness really works well with those spicy chilis and wide rice noodles. The bell peppers and onions are cooked only slightly, so they still have heft to them, and cloaked in the salty, spicy, garlicky sauce, they are heavenly. Don’t eat this on a date unless your date eats it too AND you both have very sturdy digestive stystenms…’nuff said. And if your date doesnt like this…DUMP HIM/HER
I DIDNT GET THIS!!
That lovely arm in the background belongs Jesse’s friend Carolyn, who was also at lunch. I branched out this time and ordered:
I mean, it was on the list of the day’s specials, and it is a SPECIALTY of Northern Thailand. PLUS I had never had it before, and you know what i say-leave no meal untasted! The server warned me that it was very spicy and you just KNOW how that phrase is music to my sick little ears
This was-and this is an ABSOLUTE compliment-Thai sloppy joes!!! seasoned ground chicken in a soupy sauce made of corriander, tomatoes, and something sweet-probably palm sugar. I did NOT find it very spicy-I wasn’t even sweating-but it was totally delicious! it had that really awesome, comforting feel of sloppy joes. Plus the heady taste of cilantro permeated the dish, which just added to the aromatic Thai sensation.
On the side, I got cucumber, cabbage, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets. At first these additions seemed totally random, but when i dipped these veggies in the chili, it gave the dish a whole new dimension! Stirring the raw cabage into the stew, gently wilting it, brought out the fragrant Thai spices and gave the cabbage a savory, meaty heft. This is not a dish that i totally loved, but then-i’m not really a sloppy joe kinda gal. I mean don’t get me wrong-i still finished the whole thing because i am a PIG-i am just saying that pad kee mao is still my one true love at pam real thai
So I basically had a garlicky, fish saucy, gossipy, AWESOME time with the birthday boy. Pam Real Thai is inexpensive, has great service, and is my favorite thai spot in the city. I can highly reccomend it, especially if you come with a damn fine lookin friend for life, like Jesse