Sripraphai

New York City offers quite the array of Thai cuisine. But, if you want to switch up your pad thai routine and seek out some authentic taste, head on over to SriPraPhai in Woodside, Queens. This restaurant serves an extensive menu of delectable dishes, ranging from soft shell crab to sautéed watercress, crispy pork belly to roasted duck green curry. But there is no need to feel intimidated. Pictures accompany every dish on the menu. SriPraPhai allows for a sense of adventure in exploring traditional Thai dishes you may have never tasted before.

Amongst the countless items offered, one dish that we enjoyed the most was the papaya salad. SriPraPhai offers three versions; one with seafood, another with crushed peanuts, and the third with crispy ground catfish. We decided to go fancy and order the third variation of the papaya salad, topped with ground catfish and spicy lime sauce. The catfish added a crispy saltiness, perfectly balancing out the acidic sweetness in the dressing. Warning: this dish is quite spicy!

Make sure you take a trip to the ATM before, as SriPraPhai is cash only.

SriPraPhai
64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 899-9599
www.sripraphairestaurant.com

Selamat Pagi

If you’re looking for a restaurant with a unique twist, check out Selamat Pagi in Greenpoint. This little gem of a restaurant offers traditionally inspired dishes from Bali with the added bonus of sustainable organic produce. The quiet and cozy atmosphere makes a perfect date or brunch spot.

We ordered the Coconut Meatballs, Nasi Goreng, and the Sambal Deviled Eggs and all were equally delicious, bursting with flavor. But the eggs were especially exceptional in taste and presentation, which made them our most memorable plate. The dish came with three carefully peeled half eggs, each holding a chili and kaffir lime yolk placed in a beautiful swirl. Adding the perfect finish, a delicate slice of pickled red onion was placed on top. Simple yet effective, the little kick of lime and chili gave this Western appetizer a unique touch.

For New York locals familiar with Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, you might want to know that the same team is also behind this lovely restaurant. And yes, they serve Van Leeuwen ice cream at Selamat Pagi as well!

Selamat Pagi
152 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY
www.selamatpagibrooklyn.com

La Esquina

When our parents came to visit New York, Naomi and I both agreed that La Esquina in Soho was the perfect place to take them out for a Mexican dinner. Good Mexican food is hard to come by in Japan, and La Esquina was just simply done and perfect for a casual dinner.

The Tortilla Soup is one of our favorite dishes at La Esquina. It is a hearty spicy soup with a light aromatic broth that includes generous chunks of chicken, avocado, and strips of still-crunchy tortilla strips.

Curious to know the origins of the Tortilla Soup, I did a little research only to find that no one truly knows the origins of it. According to an article I found on the LA Times website, tortilla soup is not found all over Mexico. Rather, it has a strong concentration in the region of Mexico City, possibly where this delicious soup originated. If you want to read more about the history of this mysterious soup, click here.

This simple, no-fuss Mexican restaurant offers the tortilla soup to go, or if you have the time to sit down, your soup will be served in a cute bowl resembling a witch’s pot (pictured above) – perfect dish for a Halloween dinner. Enjoy!

La Esquina
114 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012
www.esquinanyc.com

Maison Premiere

Summer Fridays are the perfect time to go to Maison Premiere (cheers to the lucky ones that still have some left!). If you make it ten to fifteen minutes before this oyster bar opens for happy hour, you are likely to get a seat in their romantic backyard.

Fresh raw scallops are sweet as they lack the fishiness of their counterparts, making them our favorite shellfish. Maison Premiere serves a beautiful scallop dish that is almost too pretty to eat. Small chunks of meat are served on a large shell with equally charming toppings of pickled rhubarb and a dust of shaved horseradish ice.

Note, it is recommended that you eat the scallops first, as the horseradish ice is fleeting in warm weather. Also this dish is served only in a couple of their shellfish towers, so be sure to ask your waiter for specifics!

Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
(347) 335-0446
www.maisonpremiere.com