For years the running joke about this Italian-American boy’s love for Asian food has been that I’ve forsaken my pasta and red sauce roots to slurp noodles in the basement of what my dear departed friend Josh Ozersky lovingly termed “ethnic hell holes.”
Noodles—be they Thai, Chinese, or Indian, cold, stir fried, or in soup—are one of my favorite foods. The other day I had a Thai noodle dish—black ink spaghetti with nam prik ong—that seemed to have more in common with Bologna than Bangkok.
“You’re the first to try it,” my friend Aom “Annie” Phinphatthakul chef-owner of Thailand’s Center Point told me. She’d just added it to her rotating specials board a few days prior to my late night visit. A trio of dry fried red chilies perched atop the tangle of black pasta crowned with ground pork shot through with tomatoes and chilies. Nam prik ong might be a Northern specialty, but combined with the pasta it calls to mind a Thai take on Southern Italian soul food.
A few bites in I crushed up the dried chilies and sprinkled them on top, which kicked the whole affair into a higher, spicier gear. The sidecar of pork cracklings was fun to eat with it too.
It was a great late night meal, but I always find squid ink pasta not fishy enough. Next time I’ll remedy that with a hint of sauce. I’ll bet Ozersky would have something to say about that move and my nickname for the dish: Bangkok Bolognese.
Thailand’s Center Point, 63-19 39th Avenue, Woodside, 718-651-6888