Pakpao's Punch

You like spicy, right? You'd better.

The red curry will warm your bones and quickly put a tack on your forehead. It's an integrated and intense heat that's laced with paper-thin ribbons of kaffir lime leaves that explode with vegetal and citrus flavors. Draped over a garden's worth of vegetables and big chunks of catfish, this dish eats generously but with a vengeance.

If flames aren't your thing, look for dishes that are inherently soft-spoken. Thretipthuangsin is a purist, but he's no sadist, and both a yellow curry served with a soft-shell crab and a Massaman curry served with beef deliver more quiet, aromatic flavors. Steamed prawns served in a clay pot are peaceful, too. If you're not the type of person who eats with a bowl of chile paste by your side, look for menu items without an asterisk and stick with them.

Should you get burned, there's always dessert to bring you back down. Skip the chocolate mousse, which takes you back to your last room-service dessert. Instead get the coconut rice paired with tiny mounds of panna cotta, tinged green with pandan, an herb used throughout southeast Asia for its sweetness.

Pakpao's spicy red curry catfish brings on the heat.
Catherine Downes
Pakpao's spicy red curry catfish brings on the heat.

Details

Pakpao

1628 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 120, 214-749-7002, pakpaothai.com. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday -Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $$$

Pork belly $9

Chicken meatball $7

Catfish with red curry $14

Soft-shell crab $21

Salmon with green curry $17

Coconut rice $7

It's these plates — the ones that stray the furthest away from what one might expect from a Thai restaurant in Dallas — that make the best reasons for paying Pakpao a visit. Order the pad Thai if you like, but you'll be glossing over a kitchen capable of more creativity and compelling cooking than you're willing to admit.

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2 comments
notallofeastdallasislakewood
notallofeastdallasislakewood

the curry catfish may be the best thing on menu.  love the fact that chef eddy is not afraid to bring the heat.  did you try the bangkok snow?  might be the tartest drink i've ever had, and refreshed on a hot afternoon.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator editor

@notallofeastdallasislakewood I didn't try all of the cocktails, but I found the three I tried to lack balance. It was more than an excess of sweetness -- they just didn't come together and beer really is a better pairing with Thai food, anyway.

I do love acid, though. I'll give The Snow a try.

 
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