I recently had the best Pad Thai of my life. It was one of those restaurant meals where the person cooking takes us under her wing and simply says, "How about I just cook for you?" Chef Ngamprom "Hong" Thaimee of Ngam in NYC's East Village then brought out plate after plate of regional Thai cuisine from her native Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I was floored.
Normally when I have this kind of meal out, I try to savor it as just that: a meal out that I will probably not make at home. But this was different. In particular, Hong's Green Papaya Pad Thai was a game-changer. Replacing the traditional rice noodles with shredded green papaya isn't a new trick — and one that's gaining a wider audience thanks to its lower carb count — but I'd never thought to make it that way at home. So I called her the next day and asked her to please teach me. This week, I visited her kitchen.