Winter’s cold and the attendant coughing and sniffling always call for a good bowl of spicy soup, and Thai noodle soup always fits the bill. Today a look at two of my new favorites: one a Japanese take on Thai green curry and the other an everything but the kitchen sink Thai pork soup.
First up the Queensmatic Green Curry ($17) from Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack, which is an ajitama’s throw away from where Nas came up in the Queensbridge houses. Shimamoto learned to make a similar green curry ramen while working at Tokyo’s Bassanova Ramen. His curry paste hums with the flavors of lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime and bird’s eye chilies. At first I considered adding some chili oil, but as the heat pleasantly mounted I decided against it.
At Bassanova, the soup base was pork, but Shimamoto feels that a lighter chicken/dashi base allows the Thai flavors to really shine. “It was a tribute to Nas that’s why I called it Queensmatic and Nas doesn’t eat pork so it’s a chicken base, and it has the chicken chashu on it,” Shimamoto says of his creation which he served to local TV crews when they did a piece on the nearby Queensmatic mural of Nas.
Over in Elmhurst’s Little Bangkok I tried something called pak moo noodle soup ($10) at Khao Nom. They can call it a noodle soup if they want, but really it’s a dumpling soup named for the pak moo, gossamer thin dumplings filled with plump baby shrimp, shiitake mushroom, and soy bean cake. The wavy little packages float in a clear pork broth beside tender pork ribs, ground pork, and slabs of pork meatloaf. Fried garlic and bright pink shrimp top the whole thing off.
It may not have as much fire as the Queensmatic, and Nas won’t be eating it any time soon, but Khao Nom’s pak moo is deeply comforting as its Japanese-accented counterpart at Ramen Shack.
Ramen Shack, 13-13 40th Ave, Long Island City, 929-522-0285
Khao Nom, 76-20 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, 929-208-0108