Friday, March 5, 2010

Noodles That Soak Up All That Flavor

One of my favorite comforts in NYC is the pad si ew at Pongsri Thai.  I've been frequenting this restaurant on W48th Street over the past 2 - 3 years.  It's a rather late 'discovery' on my part, due to the fact that I never really got over my passionate love for Rod Dee and the feeling that nothing else in North America could compare to that home-style Thai food mecca tucked 4 hours (by car/bus) away in a couple of Bostonian neighborhoods.  Well, Pongsri certainly is no replacement but it is a very strong candidate in its own right.

Pad Si Ew is a Thai dish and, according to Chez Pim, translates to 'anything stir-fried.'  In NYC, it's commonly a dish of broad rice noodles stir-fried with your choice of the standard American Thai restaurant selection of meats (that means pork, beef, chicken or seafood/shrimp with the corresponding price differential for seafood/shrimp), a sweet, sticky soy sauce, fish sauce, some chillies for spice (but it doesn't have to be spicy), chinese broccoli and egg.  It's a dish that is very savory, pungent with the aroma of fish sauce and an all-in-one satisfying plate of food.  It also tends to be very greasy as rice noodles are able and need to absorb a shocking amount of liquids (this ends up being oil when you order at American Asian restaurants) in order to be well stir-fried and tasty (as opposed to overly dry).

The Pad Si Ew at Pongsri is a wonderful representation of the above flavors.  Their version is very greasy indeed.  And my recent discovery was that I could order Pad Si Ew with woonsen (bean thread noodles) instead of the more commonly available rice noodles.  Woonsen seems to absorb even more flavor than rice noodles, probably by virtue of its greater surface area, being made of many thin little spindles instead of a few wide flat ribbons of pasta.

Pongsri Thai Restaurant
244 W 48th Street between 8th Ave and Broadway
(I prefer this location simply because it is walking distance from my office)

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