Pepper Sky's Thai sensation
I often think of Cambridge as a provincial town because residents tend to view themselves as part of a community, albeit one that’s quite the cultural hodgepodge.
As townies, we tend to have that one place we like to go on a regular basis: an oasis of humanity where everyone knows our names. Norm had Cheers and I have Pepper Sky’s Thai Sensation.
I have been a fan of Thai cuisine since I was a wee lassie, and thus almost compulsively try Thai restaurants everywhere I go. Hence, it’s no faint praise when I say Pepper Sky’s meals are amongst the best Thai food I’ve ever had the pleasure of having.
In early 2004, Pepper Sky’s spawned from the ever popular Brown Sugar / Similans chain.
A group of employees led by Chudapa Phom Jun, otherwise known as Jan, decided to leave the Brown Sugar fold to start Pepper Sky’s.http://www.theaimcompanies.com/downloads/hi-res/ad_bl_farmer.tif
The poorly visible location they chose had seen many restaurants come and go, and Pepper Sky’s early adaptors were in fear that it too would suffer the same fate as the previous tenants.
However, word of mouth triumphed, and Pepper Sky’s soon became a darling of Central Square.
Most evenings between 6:00 and 8:00 pm you will find people waiting patiently for tables in the small but inviting restaurant.
The décor is simple and warm, with interesting modern paintings that departs dramatically from the typical Thai artwork. When you step in, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been invited to have dinner at Jan’s home.
Lucky, the wait is never longer than 30 minutes thanks to the fast and courteous wait staff, as well as a most excellent chef who took a few pointers from Speedy Gonzalez. If you are not keen on waiting, be sure to either: (1) beat the rush, (2) plan for a late dinner, (3) take out from the counter or (4) call in your order.
When I discovered Brown Sugar, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. However, Pepper Sky’s focus on traditional Thai cooking elevated the already mouth watering dishes for an even more heavenly aroma and taste.
Each of the fifty some odd “Thai Sensations” is fresh and flavorful.
The delectable selections range from Grilled Pork with Sticky Rice, marinated and cooked to perfection with honey and spices, to the divinely savory Jade Noodles. The spinach noodles are sautéed with shrimp, chicken and a colorful range of vegetables and mushrooms to give the dish not only a complex balance of flavors, but a most pleasant aesthetic quality. For starch with a kick, the Drunken Noodle is always a good pick, with its blend of peppers and vegetables, including bamboo.
Although everything is superb, I do recommend passing up the standard fares in favor of branching out to explore other tasty treats. The Mango Salad is a delicious departure from the beaten path, as is the Papaya Salad.
To the average American (myself included), the Papaya Salad may seem a tad fishy at first, but the flavor is intended to bring out the harmony between the ingredients. With understanding came enlightenment, and I have since grown to adore the dish in all its glory.
Basil fans should try the Basil Street Urchin, while mango fans can indulge in the Mango Curry, and pineapple fans should not miss the Pineapple Fried Rice. The Seafood Madness is a delightful celebration of the bounty of the sea, while the curry based Shrimp Yellow Sky is a richly spiced showcase of the chef’s love affair with food.
Despite its more humble beginnings and surroundings, Pepper Sky’s Thai Sensation far surpasses the more ostentatious or extravagant Thai restaurants.
It is an absolute “must-try” for Thai food fans, and highly recommended even if you rarely think about foods east of Greece.
20 Pearl St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Mon - Fri 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Sat 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Mon - Sun 5:00 – 10:00 pm
Lunch: ~$10-15 / person
Dinner: ~$15-25 / person