Lime, chiles, onion, lemongrass, galanga coconut in the hands of a skilled Thai chef.
Mon-Thurs: noon-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat: noon-10:30 p.m.; Sun: noon-9:30 p.m.
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Lime, chiles, onion. Lemongrass, galanga coconut. In the hands of a skilled Thai chef, these ingredients can set off the most pleasurable of explosions. At Sri Thai in Huntington, where even the mildest dishes are rife with complex flavors, I'm having a virtual blast.
Warm ground chicken meets up with chile peppers, ginger, peanuts, lime and onions in the Northern Thai salad called nam; the result is a fiery dance on the palate. Another lively act is the "fancy" sausage salad - dark red coins of Thai sausage on a bed of lettuce. The tang of chile and lime also imbue the silver noodles yum, delicate bean-thread noodles tossed with ground chicken and shrimp.
For a mellower start to a meal, I'm partial to curry puffs, small neatly fried pastries stuffed with a curried chicken, potato and onion mixture. I'm glad the crunchy coconut shrimp turns out to be perfectly cooked, not too sweet.
Pad ginger shrimp feature plump, sweet shellfish sauteed with ginger, scallions, onions and mushrooms. It's a light and rather mild dish, but the flavors are bold, nonetheless. While the drunken noodles are mildly incendiary, they don't merit the two-chile- pepper symbol on the menu. Still the noodles, pan-fried with basil, onion and chiles, make for compellingly good eating. So, too, does the russet-colored pad thai. And the pineapple fried rice.
I'm especially taken with an item called "splash," a whole striped bass, deep fried and topped with ginger, ground chicken, mushrooms and onions in a brown sauce. Crispy duck lives up to its description; it's stir-fried with vegetables and a surprisingly unsugary sweet-and-sour sauce.
I see fireworks - literally - at dessert, when baked Alaska (fried ice cream in a pool of raspberry sauce) is set afire. I don't expect to like the result, but I do. Better, and more refreshing, is coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell.
I'm at a loss to figure out the use of canned baby corn in the otherwise fine tom yum goong (shrimp hot and sour lemongrass soup) and tom ka gai (chicken-coconut-lime soup). It only detracts.
Also, the pork in a hearty, homey complex yellow curry with potatoes is overcooked and chewy.
With more sparklers than duds, this is one Thai restaurant that can really light up an evening.
Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 10/15/08.