When we went to Woodside for our Scavenger hunt, the selection of potential places for lunch was really divided between familiar ‘American’ food and Asian food. Instead of going to a Japanese restaurant, we went to White Castle. However, the growing number of Asian restaurants is what should be noted in this predominantly Irish neighborhood, especially with how easily they seem to mesh in with the Irish pubs and small diners. One restaurant in particular has made an impact on Woodside and the rest of the city as a whole, SriPraPhai.
Located on 39th Avenue and 64th Street, SriPraPhai is a Thai restaurant that has gained the attention of various magazines and papers, earning itself a place on the Zagat’s list of top 30 in the city, along with having a New York Times articles written on the restaurant for it’s authenticity and atmosphere. Three blocks away from the 61st Street-Woodside stop along the 7 train line, SriPraPhai was founded by Sripraphai Tipmanee, a Thai woman who immigrated to New York over thirty years ago as a nurse. The nurse became a became her own boss when she started Bangkok Trading, an electrical appliance store that catered to Thais in the neighborhood, especially students who wanted to send items home. Business began to go down when American companies started to work directly in Thailand so she sold the appliance store. In its place, Tipmanee opened up a Thai bakery and dessert spot. It did not go as well as expected but Tipmanee had noticed just how many Thai people actually living in the area. With this in mind, the bakery began to change. Little by little, it changed from that small bakery to the popular SriPraPhai restaurant known today. The owner not only changed the menu though. Tipmanee expanded the restaurant and also added a garden, creating a more friendly and open atmosphere where before there had been none to be found in the Spartan decorations and frumpy furniture.
SriPraPhai’s presence in Woodside has really only been able to maintain persistent because of the rest of the growing Thai community in Woodside. Tipmanee states on the restaurant website that, “without their [Thai people] continued support, my restaurant will not come to this point today.” Not only is its presence a comfort to the Thai people there but also to people in the rest of the city. Its authentic meals and sharp tastes are what really keep people coming to this place. Reviews from various places, including the New York Times, stated that the seafood and the desserts were disappointing in comparison to the meals, which makes sense since Tipmanee’s initial restaurant turned out to be a failed bakery. What really brings people to this place, people of all nationalities, is the fact that the spiciness present in the food is real, not watered down or sweetened for American palettes, which is what most other Thai restaurants do. Though not on the ball with in physical appearance, the restaurant’s front is said to have the appeal of an H&R Block, it makes up for it in tastes and capturing the essence of a food that really has no other comparison in the world. This alone makes SriPraPhai notable in Woodside amongst the Pubs and sushi places.