Where to Find Spicy Northern Thai Flavors on the Cheap


Thailand has a rich culinary background that extends far beyond pad Thai and green curry. With several distinct culinary regions, the country offers a wide mix of styles, flavors, and levels of spice. There’s sweeter, milder fare from the south, and Chinese-influenced dishes in and around Bangkok. It’s all spice when you get up north. Many of those bold, northern-influenced dishes can be found at Chai Northern Thai (124 North 6th Street, Brooklyn; 718-599-5889) in Williamsburg and midtown. And during lunch, there are a bunch of selections that ring up for a bargain.

Starting at 11:30 in midtown and noon in Williamsburg, the eateries both run special lunch deals until 4 p.m. For $7.95, guests can pick from fourteen different dishes and a complimentary soup, salad, or spring roll. And each entree comes with choice of chicken, beef, or tofu. Shrimp or squid cost an extra $2.

Some dishes pack the heat, like kra pow, a mixture of whatever protein you’d like along with chile and basil. Spicy basil fried rice with onion, red bell pepper, and green pea plays on similar flavors and offers a similar punch. And there are plenty of spicy curries like red, green, green curry fried rice, and chu chee curry sauce, a home-style dish similar to red curry, but without the zest of coriander and cumin. And if you happen to have a cold, order the tom yum noodle soup to clear it out. The clear chicken broth is full of spice and ground peanuts with choice of rice or cellophane noodles.

Other dishes aren’t going to sear the taste buds. Pad Thai is one of the specialties; it comes complete with shrimp, egg, peanuts, scallions, and bean sprouts. But less common stir-fries are on the menu, too. Pad khing is a mellow combination of ginger, mushroom, onion, scallion, and red bell pepper. Traditionally, chicken is the meat of choice for this one, but here, you can have your pick. Another reliable option is the pad see eiw, a savory blend of chewy rice noodles, egg, and broccoli in a special soy sauce.

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