Lawman's uncle was in town last weekend enroute to Canada for a fishing expedition with my father-in-law. On his agenda for the whirlwind visit? Softshell crabs and good Thai. A visit to Wondee Siam was clearly in order...
Wondee Siams dot the Hell's Kitchen/Upper West Side, at last count I think there are five branches in all, but our favorite is Wondee Siam on 9th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd. This was where we had our last meal before Little B was born--while I was in labor (actual active labor, contractions included). We were walking the streets of Hell's Kitchen trying to hasten the little guy's arrival when we decided to stop in for some lunch. Once you check into the hospital they generally don't let you eat until you give birth for fear of liability if you need anesthesia. Whenever we're in the nabe, it's hard to pass up the opportunity for their authentic kick-you-in-the-teeth spicy Thai cooking and contractions were no exception.
But I digress, soft shell crabs are the matter at hand and during their short season, I can affirm that they are well worth seeking out at Wondee Siam.
We got the garlic and the chili preparations off the "secret Thai menu." Yes, it's actually called that, you used to have to ask for it specially, but now you can find it enclosed in plexiglass right on your table top.
Both crab dishes were crisped to perfection. The garlic packed a pungent Dracula-wilting load of crunchy garlic bites, but it was the fiery chili crab (above) that won the day. There wasn't a morsal left behind and we doctored the garlic crab with the leftover chili sauce traces.
Soft shell crab season typically lasts until July, but it's best to call ahead so you're not disappointed (not that you'd be in danger of a bad meal if they were out).
My only caveat would be depending on your server you may need to be unrelentingly emphatic about your desire for heat (especially if you're not a native Thai).