The takeout menu gives a phonetic spelling (see-pra-pie), and servers ask, unprompted, if you’d like “Thai spicy.” Happily, these new and somewhat self-conscious developments have had no deleterious effects on the food, which is, indeed, Thai spicy, but also multilayered and nearly impossible to stop eating.
Don’t be surprised if the first spoonful calls to mind Indian food; it contains masala, which Moonroj imports from Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province on the Burmese border.
The words “nose to tail” don’t appear anywhere on the menu, but they certainly inform the cooking philosophy: Sai aua sausage hums with chile and lime leaf, and sports crunchy white flecks of pig’s ear.
If you can’t stand the heat, this isn’t the kitchen for you.
Lamoon specializes in the cuisine of Lanna, the “kingdom of a million rice fields” which once encompassed Thailand’s northern provinces, including chef Arada Moonroj’s native Chiang Mai.
Pad ped moo pah, which features wild boar sautéed in spicy curry paste with bamboo, basil, and sprigs of young peppercorn, is an antidote to pork-belly fatigue — it’s nearly as rich, but significantly meatier and bears a subtle gamy tang.
If only the word “cafeteria” more often described places like this one, where food is ordered by pointing to unlabeled sections of a steam table, à la rice-curry stalls and shops in Thailand. You never know what you’re going to get but you can be sure it will be delicious, from super-spicy curries to stewed pork belly with tofu.When betel leaves are available, it’d be nothing short of a mistake to skip them, wrapped around a heady mixture of fresh ginger, coconut, dried shrimp, and shrimp paste, plus peanuts and chiles.And you’d be hard-pressed to find a better khao soy, the northern-style, coconut-based, whole-chicken-leg curry, made golden with fresh turmeric and featuring homemade egg noodles.At first you think that the entire dining room has a cold.But then you notice that the dazed expressions, pervasive eye-tearing, and rampant nose-blowing are accompanied by the telltale flush and trickle of perspiration that can only signify serious, wanton capsaicin consumption. It’s also the domain of chef Sirichai Sreparplarn, who first won a following at Red Hook’s short-lived Kao Soy and Chiang Mai.Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, the married chefs behind Uncle Boons, want to transform the way the average American (or at least New York) diner thinks about Thai food, as not just an interesting, exotic “ethnic” option but in fact one of the great cuisines of the world, on par with French or Italian.