As any one who’s talked to me for than five minutes about food in Queens knows, I’m a firm believer that the best Thai food in New York City can be had in Elmhurst. In fact I love the Little Bangkok that runs along Broadway between Whitney and Woodside Avenues so much that it’s the star of one of my food tours. So this month the boys at Queens Dinner Club and I are offering Big Taste of Little Bangkok, on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at our new home in Kaufmann Astoria Studios. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased here.
The evening’s menu will include some of our favorite dishes from local hot spots Dek Sen, Eim Khao Mun Gai, Pata Paplean and Sugar Club. Dek Sen will be preparing tom yam, the classic Thai papaya salad, and moo ping Brooklyn, savory pork skewers. In case you’re wondering the name comes not from an affinity with the County of Kings, but rather the niece of one of the owners who’s named Brooklyn. As is traditional, both will be served with plenty of sticky rice. (more…)
The name of this newish Tibetan spot in the heart of Elmhurst’s Little Bangkok pays tribute to a cool mung bean jelly that’s more commonly known as laphing in Tibet. One of the best things on the 15-item menu, however is the spicy dumpling ($5.99). The chef-owner can call them dumplings, but I prefer to think of them as mini momos. (more…)
Sweet, savory, and spicy; it’s my new favorite Thai toast.
In the Little Bangkok of Elmhurst, Queens, Thai toast is often an elaborate affair laden with fruit, ice cream, and syrup. I’ve long wondered whether there was a more savory version, one that hewed to more conventional Thai flavors. Turns out there is. It exists in the form of a chili jam and pork floss sandwich being served at Pata Cafe.
Sweet, spicy, salty and porky—it’s my kind of sandwich. It made for a perfect dessert after a rather epic Indian-Chinese meal. Pata Cafe is big among the local schoolchildren most of whom order French fries and hot dogs. If Pata Cafe was around when I was a kid you can bet I’d be ordering this savory-sweet-spicy sandwich. As far as this farang’s concerned, it’s a real after-school special.
Pata Cafe, 56-14 Van Horn St., Elmhurst, 347-469-7142
Farewell meal at Plant Love House: mackerel with shrimp paste fried rice and dessert.
Apart from how to successfully navigate a cavernous dim sum hall one of the most important things I learned about Chinatown from my father is something I like to call Vito’s Law: Chinatown is always changing. With apologies to AristotIe, the corollary is “Chinatown and nature alike abhor a vacuum.” This law holds true for the Chinatown of Elmhurst, Queens, which these days skews more Southeast Asian. All of which brings me to the subject of today’s post, the demise of Plant Love House, a gem of a Thai restaurant that closed shop last month so the owners could focus their efforts on Look Brooklyn, a sister restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which opened late last year. Personally I was devastated by the loss of Plant Love House as were many of my readers and social media followers. Some requested a lament while others talked of being “heartbroken,” and still others were more strident, “So we lose out!? F**k Brooklyn.”
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!! (more…)
Whenever I lead tours of Queens’ second Chinatown Elmhurst, I point out the hood’s huge Southeast Asian—Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese—presence. Lately, it’s been undergoing a Thai renaissance with newer spots like Pata Paplean,Eim Khao Man Gai, and Khao Kang joining the old guard of Ayada,Chao Thai, and Ploy Thai. Scarcely a month old Paet Rio is the newest kid on the Little Bangkok block.
Chef owner Nicky Phimpoy ran Wondee Siam in Hell’s Kitchen for some 20 years before coming to the borough that boasts the most authentic Thai food in NewYork City. Paet Rio is named for her home province, located in eastern Thailand. There’s plenty of curries, yums, and larbs on the menu. What made me sit up and take notice was the roster of 14 specialty noodle dishes, particularly something called kanom chin nam-ngiao ($10.98). (more…)
Khao Kang has the best Thai steam table grub around.
Thais and non-Thais, foodies, chefs, and local shop owners alike have been encouraging me to try Khao Kang for months. The steam table joint opened this winter on a stretch of Woodside Avenue I like to call Little Bangkok. It took me half a year to finally try it, but I am ever so glad I did.
At first glance it looks like a Chinese rice-and-three spot, but it’s actually far superior. It recalls the good old days of Sripraphai, before the restaurant skyrocketed to popularity, taking up two storefronts. Selections change daily according to the chef’s whim, but they are always fragrant, delicious, and often quite hot. There are a few regulars like a wonderful stewed pork belly and something I like to call the Thai surf and turf, which is available only on weekends. (more…)