100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 6 Little Serow

Laap pla duk: catfish, shallots, chiles. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

“Okay, who’s been here before?” the bespectacled server asks when she hears there’s a newbie at the table. “What I mean is: Who’s going to be the chili sherpa?”

Yes, a little handholding helps if you’re unfamiliar with the ferociously spicy northern and northeastern Thai flavors chef/owner Johnny Monis celebrates here. The menu changes weekly, but there are some dishes that we’re glad to see pop up again and again—a sublime tofu salad, blessedly mild pork ribs.

Some sherpa tips: The key to finding bliss in the lagoon-blue dining room is to pace yourself—which isn’t easy considering that the family-style seven-course menu contains as much pleasure as pain—and to make good use of the sticky rice, herbs, and cucumbers that come gratis. (Also, never has a good Vouvray or dry Riesling been so soothing.)

Finally, get in line before the place opens—it doesn’t take reservations, and the 28 seats fill up in a flash.

Don’t miss:

  • Snakehead dumplings in galangal broth
  • Morning glory stir-fried with egg
  • Crispy pork skin with anchovies, tamarind, and chilies

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