My friend Carmela’s daughter Kailani, a young foodie who loves to cook and knows exactly what she likes, wanted to celebrate her 18th birthday by dining in a good Thai restaurant. The hunt was on. We all know a few decent Thai restaurants in Paris, but something a bit special was in order. Piment Thaï, which looked rather posh and spacious in photos on the Internet and had good reviews, was finally chosen.
Don’t be fooled by wide-angle images on the Web; the restaurant turned out to be quite small but was nonetheless cosy and agreeable, with black-painted brick walls, a large mirror with the restaurant’s illuminated name embedded in it, and mismatched chairs. The best part of the decor, however, was the restroom, where the water gushed from a pump into a bamboo basin with a green plant inside. You could almost imagine that you were in the courtyard of a house in Thailand.
The over-long menu made me suspect that the food might not be house-made, but the woman serving us assured us that it was all freshly made on the spot.
The birthday girl, an aficionado of Thai food, approved of her chicken pad thai (stir-fried noodles with meat or shrimp, peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, tamarind juice, fish sauce, chili peppers, etc.), although she thought that the noodles were undercooked. Her sister, Keona, who had the beef version of the same dish, had no such reservations and scarfed down every bite of the generous serving. Both said the sauce was just right.
Having recently discovered tom yum paste in a jar, which is wonderful for making an easy, delicious soup at home, I ordered the restaurant’s version of the soup. It was excellent, with a lovely spicy, sour broth (which usually includes lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chilies and fresh lime juice), with bamboo shoots, tomatoes and mushrooms. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I actually prefer the flavor of the broth made from the paste at home, only because the tomatoes in the restaurant’s version rather overwhelmed its delicate flavors. The prawns accompanying the soup, arranged in a star shape, were fabulous: fresh, plump and not overcooked (as is so often the case). Instead of the usual two or three, there were five of them.
The red curry ordered by Erik had the same generous portion of prawns and a lovely vegetable-studded sauce, while Carmela found her green curry with shrimp to be “exquisite.” She especially enjoyed the crunchy vegetables: zucchini, carrots, peas and bamboo shoots.
We weren’t planning to have dessert, but one magically appeared after the room suddenly went dark, lit only by a candle-studded birthday dessert. “Happy Birthday” was duly sung by all the customers, the candle was blown out, and we all dug into Kailani’s delicious Thai version of a banana split, with a whole, lightly cooked banana, slices of fresh coconut and a scoop of good coconut ice cream.
Piment Thaï was excellent – the only thing we weren’t sold on was the assortment of fried starters with a disappointing green-papaya salad – but I’d like to know about other top-notch Thai restaurants in Paris for Kailani’s 19th birthday. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment below.Favorite