No wonder it's the East Bay's best Thai restaurant: It's run by the same folks who have the best Thai restaurant in San Francisco. Chef/owner Pathama "Pat" Parikonant, who owns Thep Phanom in the City, opened Phuping (pronounced "pooping," but don't let that dissuade you) in Pacific East Mall. Pat's legendary way with sauces is best displayed in one of the restaurant's signature dishes, "The Dancing Ladies," a terpsichorean fantasy of tiger shrimps stuffed with crabmeat, bathed in a heavenly spicy lime sauce. A variation of that sauce is also used in the Thai traditional favorite, beef salad (yam nuer), with top-sirloin slices and greens. Another street-food staple, fried chicken (gai yang), also gets the royal treatment at Phuping, whose name refers to the king's vacation palace in Northern Thailand. Non-meat-eaters will appreciate the tofu-and-veggie dishes, the tastiest of which is tofu prig khing, a throng of string beans and stir-fried, crispy tofu chunks in blended chili sauce over rice. Try that with a tall glass of oliang (iced coffee without milk) for lunch. Or for a seafood splurge, try goong ob woongen (marinated prawns atop silver noodles, steamed in a clay pot). Chef Pat even prepares the delicious Southern Thai seafood mousse hor mok talay on certain weekends. Phuping has a tidy wine list as well, a rarity among Thai eateries. And don't forget to save room for dessert.
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