Pam’s yum nam sod will atomize your tastebuds.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to report, truly excellent and reasonably un-adulterated ethnic cuisine docks in the island of Manhattan.  Usually, though, I’m the last to know or pay attention, which is my loss, I guess.  Generally I’ve had a greater success rate in the outer boroughs, and it’s more difficult to research restaurants in Manhattan (especially on chowhound – you’ve got to read between thousands of threads inquiring as to the state of Danny Meyer’s navel, etc.).

Sometimes you need to pick a restaurant based on location, though.  This problem arose as I was talking to Ludwig yesterday (he was much relieved that I’d liked Kebap G better than Asia), as my evening destination was Rudy’s, and I didn’t want to rely on their hot dogs (they ARE free, though, and the pitchers of Miller Lite are only $7.50 – extreme cheapwads take note).

After shooting a couple of suggestions my way which didn’t seem potentially spicy enough, Ludwig mentioned a place that jogged my memory banks: Pam Real Thai Food, on 49th just west of 9th Ave.  I’d not been there before, but a quick Google search returned an article I’d read by “my man Sietsema” that cast Pam’s food favorably.  That was all the impetus I needed, and I left work just after six with a serious appetite.

Not much of a crowd to be found – one table of theater-going oldsters who kept complaining about the chilly air, and one really awful middle-aged date.  Both situations would likely have been improved by a strong dose of whatever nuclearized the amazingly hot yum nam sod ($6), which is a salad of ground pork with a citrus dressing, avec cilantro, peanuts, and scallions.  I mean, this stuff was serious, which meant that I drank about five glasses of water during the course of the meal (turns out this is a good way to prepare for a night of birthday drinking, as I feel much better today than I should).  Not as fishy as I’d like (thankfully, they’ll believe you here when you ask for spicy, so next time I plan to bribe the chef to use her bottle of fish sauce liberally), but you’ll hardly notice in and amongst the beads of sweat.

I had started with the Thai beef jerky, which would indeed (“my man Sietsema” again) make a better bar snack than the afore-mentioned hot dogs.  The deep-fried dried beef, particularly in concert with the sweet-sour-spicy dipping sauce and a densely-packed cake of rice (which must be designed to eat by hand), cried out for a beer.

Alas, beer in the form of $7.50 pitchers awaited me at Rudy’s, so I stuffed my face and ran – running not because I was late, but because my mouth was on fire.  Thanks, Pam!

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