To me, Thai cuisine is always hit or miss. Before moving to New York I had a favorite Asian restaurant in the DC area, Cafe Asia, that served my "gold standard" pad Thai. Chanpen Thai in Midtown/Hell's Kitchen came close to meeting that standard. The restaurant's exterior gives a casual, fun appearance, but when we stepped inside it seemed almost formal. New York Magazine notes:
...mirrored walls add a sense of spaciousness to an already amply sized dining room bearing a slightly elevated section in back. Wooden trim with delicate, cut-out engravings skirts the ceiling’s perimeter and gilded figurines are scattered throughout.
I was trying to stretch my culinary horizons (frogs legs?!), but ended up back at my standard pad Thai again, though I mixed it up with shrimp. Woah. It was very good, though I thought it could use a little more lime and a little more peanut. We also tried the calamari which was a really unique preparation, as far as fried squid goes. The calamari was very light in color and texture, not quite flaky, but very crunchy and with a nice Thai sweet and sour sauce.
Even if the restaurant was a little deceiving from the outside—it was no Cafe Asia on the inside—overall it was an affordable and tasty dinner.