The Thai desserts at Elmhurst’s Khao Nom are so good that there’s a bit of a running joke between the ladies at the counter and me that all I eat is sweets. Truth be told, my Southeast Asian Elmhurst food tour usually ends there with dessert, but every now and then I find myself at Khao Nom alone craving something savory.
Such was the case last week when I tried the shrimp paste fried rice (khao klup kapi) with sweet garlic pork. The mound of rice—stained brownish-red from being fried with the funky kapi—was topped with two fried chilies and ringed with diced shallots; strips of omelet; chopped green beans; slices of fresh chili pepper; a wedge of lime; dried shrimp; cucumbers; and, of course, the bowl of sweet and garlicky stewed pork.
This DIY fried rice is one of my favorite ways to eat. Mix it all up and as little or as much of the dried peppers—in my case both—to the lot. The combination of sweet pork and shrimp infused rice shot through with veggies and burst of spice and the crunchy brine bombs of baby shrimp is particularly restorative on a hot summer’s day. Plus it comes with a sidecar of broth. Not a bad deal for $10.
A variety of tastes and textures orbit shrimp past fried rice.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
The old school Thai noodle soups and newfangled desserts at Plant Love House are so good that’s it’s all too easy to ignore the rest of the menu at this family-run joint in Elmhurst. I know this because it’s taken me months to finally get into the rice plates, which are home cooking of the highest order as prepared by matriarch Manadsanan Sutipayakul.
Khow klup kapi or shrimp paste rice consists of a mound of rice topped with stewed sweet pork. Orbiting the rice and pork are slivered mango, pork sausage, chopped long beans, red onions, chilies, ribbons of omelet, and cucumbers. Mixing the whole lot together results in a universe of Thai flavors—salty, spicy, fishy, sweet, and herbaceous—in every bite. (more…)
Clockwise from top: crab, crispy pata, ukoy, longanisa, and tuna belly.
Americans traditionally mark Labor Day weekend with one last summer backyard barbecue with friends and loved ones. I too celebrated with friends, in traditional Queens fashion. That is to say by embracing the traditions of another culture, specifically Filipino. On Saturday my friends Kaori and Stella joined me for a traditional salu-salo sa bilao fiesta at Papa’s Kitchen in Woodside. Salu-salo bilao loosely translates to a gathering over a bilao,or banana leaf-lined basket overflowing with goodies. It’s an informal affair where all the food is eaten with one’s hands.
Chef Miguel prepared quite a spread. One tray held crab; crispy pata, a whole foreleg of pig fried to a shattering crunchiness; the shrimp and veggie fritters known as ukoy;longganisang hamonado, a lovely sweet pork sausage;tuna belly; and Papa’s signature spicy dynamite spring rolls. Everything was quite tasty,but we all agreed the salty, fatty tuna belly was spectacular. Stella, who is Filipina, schooled me in the proper way to eat with my hands. On the few occasions when I’ve eaten South Asian food with my hands I’ve felt self conscious most likely because the food is usually very saucy. At Papa’s I felt especially relaxed, and not just because we had the place to ourselves. (more…)