13 E. Main St. Patchogue, NY 631-687-1313
In a well-appointed room dominated by a Thai conveyance called a samlor (a cross between a rickshaw and a bicycle), savor chef-owner Lawan Thongsri's bracing tom yum goong, peppery larb (a warm pork salad) and peek gai yad sai, chicken wings boned and stuffed with ground chicken, clear noodles and vegetables. Fine curries, too.Hours: Mon., 11:30 a.m-9:30 p.m.; Tue., closed; Wed., 11:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m.; Thur., 4-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 1-9 p.m. Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
The first thing to catch your eye at Lawan in Patchogue is a shiny tricycle-like conveyance called a samlor, a cross between a ricksaw and a bicycle. It was shipped here from Thailand and installed in the rear of the dining room at no small trouble. While it adds to the ambience of the attractive contemporary dining room, it is, after all, a prop. The real focus of attention quickly becomes chef-owner Lawan Thongsri's alluring Thai cooking.You'll want to start with the bracing tom yum goong, hot-and-sour shrimp soup. Tom ka gai, chicken and coconut milk soup, is a trifle watery but, nonetheless, full of flavor. Geow naam, a distant cousin of Chinese wonton soup, is a less spiced alternative.
Goong home pah, shrimp wrapped in spring-roll skins and deep-fried, are very good, as are skewered chicken satays. If you're craving subtle yet complex flavors that characterize Thai cuisine, try, instead, the peppery larb, a warm, herbal salad of diced pork. Even though the kao greib parg (steamed dumplings with a chicken and peanut filling) arrived lukewarm, they were delicious. Another hit was the peek gai yad sai, chicken wings boned and stuffed with ground chicken, clear noodles and vegetables.
Gang dang, chicken in a red curry sauce with eggplant and Thai basil, made for a satisfying lunch entree one afternoon. At dinner, the yellow curry with potatoes and onions called gang mussamun had a nice flowery quality. We had ordered it extra-spicy, but it came medium-hot. Try getting Thai food on Long Island as fiery as you want; it's a challenge.
Although our order was for chicken with Thai basil, we got a mixture of rice with chicken and Thai basil. Nobody bothered to tell the waitress about the mixup in communication, since we were enjoying the dish so much. Pahd preow waan (chicken and vegetables with a sweet and sour sauce) proved a good choice, nothing like the sticky, sugary sweet-and- sour dishes associated with Americanized Chinese food.
Pahd prig khihg (beef and red curry paste with string beans and kaffir lime leaves) was a bit too salty, but pahd kee mao talay (shrimp, squid and mussels with chile, garlic and Thai basil) offered complete gratification. You won't be let down by Lawan's pad Thai, the classic rice noodle dish with shrimp, vegetables, egg and peanuts. And you'll find yourself finishing every last bit of the Thai version of chow fun, which we had with shrimp.
Finish with a deep- fried banana spring roll called gluey tod. Roti (rolled pancakes stuffed with a mixture of sugar and condensed milk) might be too sweet and pasty for some, a treat for others. We ordered -- but never got -- tub tim grob, a refreshing-sounding dessert made of diced water chestnuts in coconut milk and crushed ice. We chose to overlook the oversight, since it did provide a good excuse for a return visit.
Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 11/7/03.