Pata Paplean is my favorite Thai bar in Elmhurst, but I never drink there. I eat there as often as possible. On weekend afternoons the funky joint named for a 900-pound gorilla serves the best street food style Thai noodle soups in Queens’ Little Bangkok. So when Cherry and Chompoo—the gals behind the pork blood enriched kuay tiew nam tok moo—asked if I wanted to collaborate on a popup series with them, I immediately said yes. UPDATE: Tickets are now on sale here for the Oct. 18 Pata Paplean Popup!!
“This is real Thai food, the type of stuff people eat at home that you can’t get in a restaurant,” Cherry said as she melted palm sugar in a saucepan. Indeed as she and her friends cooked dinner for me and my friends at a Pata Paplean Popup test run, I felt like I was in someone’s home kitchen. That is if their home was a bar designed by a Thai Peewee Herman.
Our first course was kao pod tud, a crispy corn fritter shot through with chopped kaffir lime leaves. It was served with two dipping sauces nam jim gai, a sweet chili sauce and nam makam, a spicy tamarind sauce.
Next came kung wan, crunchy baby shrimp cooked with palm sugar, chili and kaffir lime. It reminded me of a fried shrimp snack that I used to buy at Sripraphai. There was also pla nhung, a mellow steamed fish with cabbage that served as a respite from the chili heat.
An authentic Thai feast is incomplete without nam prik, a Thai salsa of sorts. The ladies prepared a bowl of nam prik ki ga, made with roasted chilies, shallots, and garlic. I couldn’t stop dipping crunchy long beans and cabbage into the stuff.
I asked Cherry to make num tuk koy, a raw beef salad, but she said she wasn’t down with raw meat. In its stead she served nam took ner, a lovely cooked beef salad with roasted rice, red onion, mint leaf, seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce, and chilies. For dessert we had kao neaw lam-yai ma-pao on, longan with young coconut over sticky rice with coconut milk. It was a mellow end to a spectacular Thai feast. Stay tuned for more details on this fall’s very first Pata Paplean Popup!