I’ve been exploring and enjoying Thai food since Woodside’s Sripraphai was little more than a grim fluorescent-lit storefront, which is to say for more than a decade. These explorations included yearly pilgrimages to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas as well as an extended dalliance and ultimate rejection of the concept of Thai spicy. (In short: Don’t order food Thai spicy unless you like the feeling of tiny hot needles repeatedly piercing your tongue.) Despite learning to roll sticky rice into balls to dip into funky salted crab papaya salad and digging on various fermented Northern Thai sausages there’s one area I haven’t explored until recently: offal. It’s not that I don’t like the nasty bits—tongue, tripe, pig ears, and yes, bone marrow—it’s just that they don’t seem to be as common on Thai menus I’ve encountered. That or I’ve been avoiding them.
All that changed recently with a bowl of tom leuat moo ($9.95) at Chao Thai Too in Elmhurst. The menu describes it thusly: “pork blood, organ and ground pork w. pork soup.” Left in question was what kind of organ(s) the porky soup would contain. There was no doubt as to the prominence of pig’s blood, an ingredient of which I am not overly fond.
Tom leuat moo it turns out teems with pork organs—slices of kidney, rings of funky intestines, chewy bits of ear, and the aforementioned congealed pigs blood cut into ingots—awash in a mild soup. The broth also sports some greenery, loose bits of ground pork and one totally unexpected porcine ingredient: cracklings. The crunchy bits of pork bring textural dimension and flavor to this bowl. A bit of dry roasted chili helped to liven things up. As I slurped the soup between bits of sticky rice, I didn’t even mind the blood so much. Two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) Why haven’t I tried this sooner? And 2) When the waiter saw me hesitating to order it why didn’t he tell me it had pork crackling?Chao Thai Too, 83-47 Dongan Ave., Elmhurst, (718) 424-9888