Not only noodles in pork blood, either. Now, as it did during its pre-pandemic weekend noodle episodes, Pata Paplean also makes a sensational bowl of tom yum noodles. Though less complex than the brooding nam tok soup, the tom yum noodles are electrifying in their own right. Their translucent and bloodless pork broth is augmented with fish sauce and lime juice and then garnished with ground pork and fish balls. Like nam tok, tom yum noodles can be ordered in a dry version, which is not exactly dry but does contain much less broth.
When Pata Paplean sold noodles only on weekends, they were served in small bowls that you could hold in one hand. In this, the bar followed a Thai tradition that goes back to the original boat noodle vendors, who ran their businesses out of narrow one-person vessels floating in the canals in and around Bangkok; supposedly, larger bowls would have been harder to hand over to customers waiting on the docks. (Mr. Klinsrisuk’s mother, Ploypan Klinsrisuk, who grew up in Bangkok and now lives in Queens, provided the recipes, which have now been passed down to the bar’s chef, Puwana Prathuangsuk.) Experienced customers would sometimes order two bowls at a time, eat them both, and then decide whether a third bowl was called for.
In their pandemic edition, there are more noodles, and they cost $10. One bowl could make a light dinner if you are not especially ravenous. But the original Pata Paplean menu, which remains intact with the addition of the noodles, is full of small dishes that can flesh out a meal.
Pata Paplean fries chicken in the style of Hat Yai, a Thai city so far south it is almost in Malaysia. This fried chicken has no crust to speak of, just a thin golden shell from a last-minute coat of rice flour. Under it, the meat echoes with coriander seeds, garlic and other seasonings. Highly spiced, but not spicy in the hot-chile sense, it holds a place of its own in New York’s fried-chicken culture.
There are also grilled, soy-marinated meat strips that resemble a sweeter, juicer version of Thai beef jerky. At Pata Paplean, they go by the name “beef heaven,” which oversells them by a bit, but not by much. Pata balls is the restaurant’s name for grilled, finely ground pork meatballs, served with a sweet tamarind glaze on the side. Either is ideal with sticky rice and a bottle of Chang.
But if you’re having a drink, why stick to beer? Pata Paplean has a drinks menu that is joyfully immune to the scrupulously earnest school of hand-carved ice cubes and housemade beet bitters. Consider, if you dare, the Mango Sticky Rice. Nominally, at least, this is not a dessert but a cocktail inspired by one, sweet and thick and yellow and swimming in rum. The glass is topped with a cherry on a cushion of whipped cream.
Usually, the mango sticky rice is a little too ambitious for me, and I fall back on the more streamlined and refreshing Tom Yum, a kind of vodka rickey with lemongrass and lime leaf.