Thai Flavor Restaurant

Surin Thanon, a native of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, took over Thai Flavor in 2004, preserving the name, the unceremonious, bubble-gum-hued entrance and the sparsely decorated dining room. She breathed life back into the menu, though, bringing her capable touch to such standards as pad Thai and curries, and adding specialties from her home -- some of which, like certain whole-fish dishes, aren't translated into English on the menu. But the offerings also sweep down the country to include southern Thai specialties, like the Massaman curry — which is similar in flavor to Indian curry, with cinnamon and cloves mixed with the lemongrass and galangal — as well as dishes from Vietnam. But the Thai curries are the real stars here, and they're made from scratch: The kitchen grinds fresh spices with a mortar and pestle, sautés them with coconut cream and hits them with chile peppers grown in Thanon's garden, exactly to a diner's taste. Fair warning: Hot means hot.

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