The shutters have been down since early March, but Hell’s Kitchen was holding its collective breath in the hope that Pam Real Thai would return. Unfortunately, the “Store for Rent” sign has gone up. This neighborhood favorite is added to the growing list of pandemic casualties.
Tributes poured in from fans of Pam Panyasiri and her family. Nearly 20 years ago, she was a pioneer in New York Thai cooking from the no-frills location just off 9th Ave on W49th St.
“How many nights did I walk by late on the way home from work and wave to Pam herself, in her chef whites, sitting in a front window booth after the pre-theater crush? Too many to count.”
“This one hurts.This cut is one of the deepest,” lamented Hell’s Kitchen resident Tom Fervoy. “Pam was the first, bringing the heat to the theater district before it became THE trend of the past two decades, followed by a flood of Thai places up and down 9th Ave. How many nights did I walk by late on the way home from work and wave to Pam herself, in her chef whites, sitting in a front window booth after the pre-theater crush? Too many to count. To say Pam and her family and staff were local treasures would be an understatement. Her absence from the neighborhood makes the #COVID19 gutting even more real and painful and permanent. New York City will recover and thrive and set trends again. But the ‘after times’ will never taste as good, as authentic as when Pam was our queen.”
W42ST’s food writer, Michael Muñoz, told us: “Pam Real Thai always kept it ‘real’ – pun intended. Although I have never been to Thailand, I have it on good authority that it was one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in the city. It’s sad to see it go as this unassuming, delicious restaurant off a side street always satiated that Thai craving.”
“Pam the person was real,” said New York foodie Ziggy. “She put her heart and soul into her restaurant and set the bar many years ago for all the Thais that followed. She’ll be greatly missed.”
“I loved Pam’s. It wasn’t fancy. Cute and accessible,” shared Geroge Hahn. “She herself is from the motherland and served up such delicious and authentic (and affordable) Thai food. And she didn’t hold back on spices, which l always appreciated. Her Pad Prik Khing was my go-to favorite, along with a Thai iced tea. It breaks my heart that it won’t be there anymore.”
”When we first moved into Hell’s Kitchen almost six years ago my husband, Henri, was craving Thai, so we gave it a try. It didn’t look fancy but certainly looked authentic,” said Tom Blackie from Maison 10. “We were hooked and ordered takeaway at least once per week and sat down for dinner there two or three times a month. It was a simple formula; delicious food, reasonable pricing and good service. The fact that you’d often see Pam sitting enjoying her own food at the end of the night added to Pam Thai’s charm. To hear that it won’t re-open is one of the saddest things that I’ve heard – we will miss it terribly but wish all the staff all the best with whatever they take on next.”
UPDATES: We have contacted Pam for a comment, but have not heard back before publication. We will update.
What are your memories? We will update this story with more local reaction, or please comment below.