Fit to be Thai'd

Queens reawakens our Thai food romance

Thai food often suffers from delivery-menu ennui; once lively dishes become deadened in Styrofoam to-go boxes.

Fortunately, thanks to a few restaurants that are restoring our favorite dishes to their original glory, Queens serves as our Thai food savior.

Here's where to go on your next Thai tour:

Arunee At this Jackson Heights eatery, stick with the seafood: Sweet shrimp and chunks of avocado bob like toy boats in a tub of tangy Massaman curry ($10), and the whole fish ($12), fried and dressed simply in a chile-garlic sauce, is a sensory awakening. Cap your meal off with ice cream featuring stinky, sweet durian fruit ($4). 37-68 79th St. (near Roosevelt Ave.); 718-205-5559

Chao Thai It's common for Thai restaurants to tone down the spice level for certain (read: English-speaking) clientele. Not so at this Elmhurst spot, where even a papaya and long bean salad ($8) packs heavy heat. Common dishes like tom ka gai (coconut chicken soup; $9) and pad cee eiw (stir-fried noodles; $7.50) also get fresh, elevated makeovers here. Note that Chao Thai is BYOB, so pick up some cold beer on the way. 85-03 Whitney Ave. (at Broadway); 718-424-4999

Sripraphai Even after expanding from seven to 70 seats, this boisterous Woodside restaurant (pictured) remains perpetually packed. The massive binder-bound menu takes some time to get through, so curb your appetite by ordering the crispy watercress salad with shrimp, chicken and squid ($9.50) while you look it over. 64-13 39th Ave. (between 64th and 65th sts.); 718-899-9599 or sripraphairestaurant.com

Zabb Zabb Intense flavors and the absence of coconut milk are the calling cards of dishes from Isaan, Thailand's northeast province. They're on the menu at this late-night rarity in Jackson Heights, where the Thai sausage ($7) and curry puffs ($5) are best enjoyed during a post-bar pit stop. 71-28 Roosevelt Ave. (at 72nd St.); 718-426-7992 or zabb-zabb.com