The Way I Was

a Winter Day in Providence: Thai lunch at Pakarang on South Main

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We’re spending a leisurely, fun winter day in Providence, Rhode Island:

This article covers our second stop of the day, Pakarang Restaurant on South Main Street.

We’ve worked up an appetite playing art gallery games at the RISD museum; let’s eat.

I favor family owned and staffed restaurants that consistently provide high-quality and delicious-tasting food for reasonable prices.

Today we’re going to a place that is among the favorites of my favorite restaurants in Providence.

Pakarang has been serving exquisite Thai cuisine on South Main Street since 1994.

Our family has been eating here regularly since we discovered their great-tasting food ten years ago.

It’s a reasonable 10 minutes at a leisurely pace from the RISD museum to the restaurant, and downtown Providence is a walkable city, so let’s take advantage of the health and sight-seeing benefits. We’ll hoof it.

Pakarang has been catering to the Rhode Island palate for twenty years. Spicy (meaning spicy-hot) in New England is not remotely similar to hot in Thailand or even Texas. The menu here is wisely rated for Rhode Islanders. If you enjoy the heat of a little chili powder, you can easily handle the menu items rated “one pepper.” If you’re a hot-headed daredevil like my husband, you’ll want to ask for “three peppers.” “Two peppers” is my  idea of a pleasurably zingy dish. Calle me Northern-girl-with-6-years’-Texan-hot-eating-experience.

We often visit Pakarang with a party of 4-6, so we can order appetizers plus 3 entrees (a beef/rice, a chicken/noodle, and a seafood dish) for the table to share. Pakarang’s version of Drunken Noodle with Chicken is exquisitely tantalizing, and we almost always include it in our buffet.

Today, since there are only 2 of us, and because we want to eat light so we’re not heavy and sleepy feeling during our afternoon tour, 2 appetizers and a cup of soup will satisfy us completely.

Tracy Lee Karner
Pakarang’s Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup.
Tracy Lee Karner
Pakarang’s Beef Satay is simply the best!
Tracy Lee Karner
We can’t resist Pakarang’s chonburi wings with a spicy-sweet glaze. Oh, yum!

The ticket for this made-to-order-super-tasty meal, with tax and tip is a reasonable $25.

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Thank you, Pakarang! We deeply appreciate that every time you cook for us, you consistently give us happy-mouth. We wish you another 20 successful years!

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What’s your favorite Thai dish or restaurant?

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21 thoughts on “a Winter Day in Providence: Thai lunch at Pakarang on South Main”

  1. What a perfect, light lunch for a winter’s day and so reasonable! We love Thai food, my favourite is Tom Yum soup. It’s strange because I’m not one for food that is too spicy but like you Tracy we have a favourite Thai restaurant in our town which we like to visit from time to time and the soup there is just right for me, although you can get it hotter! Hubby loves chicken satay and my kids love anything that is very spicy but I put that down to growing up in California. I’m definitely the wimp of the family 😉

  2. Sounds like excellent value for lunch at restaurant that serves super tasty meals. It’s a clever idea to eat light so you are not sleepy for your tour. I hope you had a good afternoon. 😉

    1. I can’t believe how long it took me to figure that out–about ordering and eating less. I don’t have a large appetite, AND I was taught to clean my plate. Going to a restaurant used to always make me feel over-fed. These days, I’m not embarrassed to take part of a meal home, or to order light in the first place.

      I hate to waste good food! (And we did have a lovely afternoon, thank you.)

  3. We have two Thai restaurants in our main town – Thai Terrace which is modern and a bit ‘fusion’ and traditional Rumwong where you can sit on cushions on the floor. I like anything that’s not too spicy: I ike to taste the food, not have my head blown off!

    1. I’m with you, Jenny. Sometimes the level at which it feels my head is blowing off varies, depending upon how often I’ve been eating hot peppery food recently.

      I don’t think I’ve ever been to a traditional sit on the floor Thai place. I’ve been to a few Japanese restaurants with the cushions. I enjoy it.

      My husband and I have a deal between us called “veto power.” Both of us have it whenever we’re together, and neither of us abuses it. But he always vetoes sitting on the floor, so I don’t even ask anymore.

  4. I very much like Thai food, but of the milder, New England friendly type. Not a big fan of über spicy. I particularly love a good pad thai (or whatever the right spelling is)! Thank you for sharing this restaurant, Tracy!

    1. I agree with you. I recently got a meal at a Thai restaurant in another state (not Pakarang) and ordered my usual 2-chills. It was too spicy even for Mr. 3-chilis. I gallantly ate it, because I love Thai food and I was hungry. But it was HOT. Not fun.

  5. The beef satay looks delicious, Tracy!!! And after our leisurely walk from the museum–after playing all the games–we would all be hungry and cold and soooo ready for Pakarang! Happy-mouth is right!

  6. My go to Thai dish in the US is drunken noodles. But I also like Thai basil chicken (learned to love it in Thailand), and curries always work. Too bad Ann Arbor has not one decent Thai restaurant….trying another one tomorrow night, maybe that will work!

    1. No good Thai? That’s crazy!

      We’re fortunate to have a large immigrant population here. The Thai/Camdodian/Vietnamese choice is large. Most of them are very good. We like Pakarang for its consistency, its atmosphere, and its central location.

  7. I adore Thai food and I’m very, very greedy so I need to take a leaf out of your book! Ohhh, it’s so difficult to say what is my favourite as it’s all good, but Som Tam the green papaya salad takes a lot of beating. I wish that there was a Thai restaurant here where we live in Spain. I miss Thai and Indian food very much.

    1. Hi, Lottie — no Thai or Indian in Spain? I’d definitely miss those cuisines.

      My husband and I were just talking this morning about what time of year we’d visit Spain when we get the chance. Hows the weather in Andalusia this time of year? (We’re thinking an escape from our winter storms would be a nice idea).

      1. Hello! There may well be Thai and Indian restaurants in Spain but not in these parts, it’s very rural where we are, but having said that I’ve heard that there is a chinese take-away in Alcala la Real!!

        How lovely, you are planning a visit to Spain. Tracy it’s still pretty cold and rainy here where we live but I know that down on the coast the weather has been beautiful so I’d recommend that if you want some sunshine, head down there. On the other hand, cities are always good what ever the weather. Seville, Granada, and Cordoba are all great to visit and then of course there is Jerez right down at the bottom so that would be good for culture and coast and sun! 😀

    1. If we were together, I’d recommend chicken satay for you, if you can tolerate peanuts (and you, could, of course, skip the peanut sauce; it’s served on the side). It’s mild, seasoned grilled chicken. And then you could take one bite of on of my wings. They didn’t seem spicy to me. They’re fairly addictive.

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