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Best Of 2014: Thai

NaRai opened a southern location around the turn of 2014, if expansion is any indication of success. (It is.) In her new, larger kitchen, owner Jasmine Andrew has introduced playful items such as a Thai twist on Korean short ribs, and a soon-to-arrive Thai quesadilla, using a four-cheese Mexican blend melted over shrimp seasoned with a roasted Thai chili sauce. Still, it's likely that some of her Thai staples really earned her this win. "I'm not saying I'm the most authentic," she says. "But I grew up in Thailand, and all the flavors here are based on my favorite flavors." She modifies to American palates — for example, using chicken breast instead of traditionally used whole chickens, which make for oilier plates — and recommends a medium heat for the best balance between saltiness and sweetness, though she's all too happy to burn you out if you order Thai hot. Go for it. — Matthew Schniper

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