It’s a good time to eat Thai in Queens. Arguably this has been true since Sripraphai Tipmanee opened her namesake restaurant in Woodside some 25 years ago. Of late though, Woodside and Elmhurst have blossomed into a Little Bangkok, with the emergence of spots like Khao Kang, Paet Rio, and Eim Khao Man Gai. The latest entrant into this arena of deliciousness is Plant Love House. Judging by the logo of a street cart, this is back home hawker fare. This oddly named restaurant run by Peak Manadsanan and her family opened a week or two ago with an abbreviated menu in a space that had housed a Tibetan restaurant. Before that it was a Chinese noodle and dumpling house, so you could say that things have sort of come full circle.
On my first visit I had the pork blood noodle ($4.95), keaw teaw num tok. It’s a pork lovers paradise—pork blood broth, springy pork ball, pork meat, and a topping of fried skin—along with rice noodles and Chinese broccoli all packed into a tiny bowl singing with some nice chili heat. That bowl’s meant for one and I was loath to share, but glad I did. Mainly because I got to try my pal’s slow cooked pork noodle soup ($7.95), keaw teaw moo toon. Looming from the slightly sweet broth were several chunks of pork, including a rib that I gleefully gnawed on.
“I feel like I’m cheating on Pye Boat Noodle,” my Astorian pal quipped as he slurped the pork blood soup. I’d have said that I felt like I was cheating on my Pata Paplean peeps, but they were sitting two feet away from us and reccomended we try yum kanom jeen ($8.95). The bright tangle of rice noodles topped with a crumble of crispy fried salmon was also excellent.
On that first visit there was only a chalkboard menu, but I took a peek at print menu and noticed the amusingly named super teengai ($8.95), spicy chicken feet soup. “Oh we don’t have that,” I was told. “Maybe next time.” And that’s exactly what I had next time. The bowl was filled with chicken feet that been cooked into submission and perfumed with lemongrass. Sour, spicy, and sinus clearing, it hit the spot.
I also ordered yum num tok koy ($8.95), spicy beef salad. Best of all the chef honored my request to serve it raw. Even better, instead of the tartare like preparation that I’ve had in the past, Manadsanan served the raw beef in slices. “This is like a beef ceviche,” my dining companion exclaimed of the slices of pink beef marinated in chili, lime, and roasted rice powder.
I have a feeling that I will eat my way through all of the ever-smiling Manadsanan’s soup roster more than once this winter. By the way I’m told that the joint’s Thai name, Baan Plook Rak translates “House of Love.” Plant love, indeed.
Plant Love House, 86-08 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-565-2010