Presumably, Irin and Sausuk Doangpratheep paper the walls of their restaurant S&I To Go with photos of various menu items to help less Thai food-savvy diners identify what they want to order, but I'm starting to think it's more a ploy to lure willpower-less customers like me into ordering more food. Every time I glance up, there's another must-try dish staring back at me: Thai BBQ chicken; hunks of deep-fried pork belly doused in chili sauce (pad ga pow moo krob); green papaya salad loaded with hot peppers, tomato wedges, peanuts, and lime juice (som tum)...the list goes on.
The good news is that this Brighton Avenue hole-in-the-wall is close to my apartment and dirt cheap, so working my way through the menu has been easy—and delicious. My most recent discovery: Crispy Duck Basil ($14.95). Perhaps I'd overlooked this particular item so many times before because it's not actually listed on the print menu—and, more likely, because I have a hard time turning down a good plate of pad si eew, and they make the best plate of wok-charred rice noodles around—but after it came highly recommended by a trusted source (Kenji), I had to give it a whirl.
As soon as the plate hit the table and I saw that two most addictive food groups—fried and spicy—were part of the equation, I knew this had been a good move.
The boneless duck breast had been battered (dredged in rice flour, dipped in beaten egg, and coated in coarse breadcrumbs), deep-fried, sliced, and then stir-fried with fresh red and green chiles. The sauce—a lightweight but full-bodied concoction that includes fish sauce, sugar, and a few other ingredients that the incredibly gracious waitress wasn't allowed to tell me—glazed the meat (making the crispy, confit-like bits especially crave-worthy) and seeped into the underlying bed of steamed jasmine rice. The only embellishment: a handful of frilly (read: fried until just crisp) Thai basil leaves over the top; once wilted, they sweetly cooled the lingering burn.
I can't say for sure that I'll order it every time—too many other pictures on the wall to get through—but consider this post my enthusiastic recommendation.