6, J, N, Q, R, Z to Canal St.
With the Tombs and the courts on Foley Square a stone's throw away, Pongsri—the original outpost of the local Thai chain—is popular among jurors and government workers looking for a quick, cheap lunch. Opened in 1972, it's billed as Chinatown's oldest Thai restaurant, and the furnishings—wagon-wheel chandeliers, and a linoleum floor offset by travel posters, masks, and pagoda-topped alcoves—look like they may actually date to that opening. Indeed, this place lacks the upscale surroundings and larger menus of the newer branches. But with crisp linens on the tables and a view of Columbus Park across the street, it's a pleasant enough place to have a meal. In keeping with the surroundings, the food is no more than pleasant enough. Order carefully. Hot-and-sour lemongrass soup is bland and spring rolls are more greasy than lively. But chicken satay, which comes with a satisfying, peanut-sweet dipping sauce, is tender and spicy. You'll also find curries, sautéed entrées with the usual choices of land and sea proteins, plus a few fried fish and roasted duck plates. Among the many vegetarian dishes is a winning mock-duck in Panang curry—the curry is light and spicy, and the gluten "duck" has a rich, gamey taste and a convincing texture.Extra
A lunch menu (Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.—4 p.m.) offers basic curries and stir-fries; Chicken, beef, or pork, $6.95; shrimp or squid , $8.95Recommended Dishes
Chicken satay, $7.95