My friend Bill, a longtime resident of Singapore who introduced me to that island's fabulous food courts, moved with his family to Bangkok several years ago. He passed along some news from the Bangkok Post: A Thai reporter had visited the Manhattan restaurant Wondee Siam and pronounced it the "high point" of his day, and even superior, on one count, to Sripraphai.
Though it can't match the depth and breadth of that Queens restaurant's menu, this original location of the Wondee mini-chain is consistently enjoyable. Now that the entire "secret Thai menu" is available in translation, there's even more reason to give it a go. Shown: lightly fried duck spring rolls ($4) with bean threads, taro, and mushrooms; "kraree" puffs ($4.50) filled with curried chicken, potato, and onion and paired with an addictive sour-sweet cucumber sauce; fried chive pancakes ($6.50); BBQ pork salad ($9.95); chicken larb ($8.50); pad kra prow, with pork ($8.50), sautéed with fresh garlic, onion, fresh basil, and chili; yan ta four ($8.50) a "red soup" with fish balls, squid, fried tofu, long beans, and greens, and inducing a slow, steady burn with red pepper.
In May 2010 the original Wondee took on a much tonier appearance than shown here; the chef is the same, the host told me. I didn't ask, and he didn't mention, whether I'd still have to navigate the kitchen to reach the restroom.
792 Ninth Ave. (52nd-53rd Sts.)
Also at 813 9th Ave, 641 Tenth Ave., 969 Amsterdam Ave.