I’m just about emerging from the food coma that overtook me after Saturday’s Thaithentic Food and Culture Festival. Authentic was the key word of the evening with restaurants offering everything from fiery curries to insects. One of the first dishes I tried was a panang curry with chicken from Am Thai Bistro in Brooklyn.
I had to show some hometown loyalty and soon found myself in front of Jackson Heights eatery Playground’s table face to face with dozens of fried grasshoppers. I find the crunchy critters to be delicious. The Playground crew was quick to warn me not to swallow the barbed legs. I ignored them and made sure to chew every bit of exoskeleton carefully.
I have been meaning to try Som Tum Der for the longest so I was pleased to see the East Village spot represented. Their lard tod—doughnut shaped fritters of minced pork with spicy sauce—was amazing, and they didn’t pull any punches with the spice either.
After all that spice it was time mellow things out a bit with some chicken and rice. Eim Khao Mun Kai, the Elmhurst purveyors of what has fast become my favorite Thai comfort food, were serving fun-sized portions of their signature dish. It was good to see Chef Srivaset Sajchaacharamontri and the crew.
My favorite dish of the evening was a wild ginger curry with kanom jiim noodle from Qi Thai Grill in Williamsburg. The little bowl of spicy noodles with teeny tiny fish balls was so good I went back for thirds.
Sripraphai Tipmanee, arguably the godmother of Thai cuisine in Queens, was on hand too. She was in charge of dessert and laid out some 11 kinds of Thai sweets including wonderful look choop, a Thai bread pudding of sorts and kanom sod sai, a coconut gelatin. Wondering why the matriarch of the biggest most successful Thai restaurant in Queens was making dessert? That’s how she got her start some 20 years ago. I found it very fitting that Thaithentic gave her a chance to return to her roots.