I’m often asked, “Have you traveled in Asia?” My typical response: “No, just Queens.” It’s possible to eat foods from Thailand’s northeastern Issan region, Tibet, and China’s Dongbei region all without ever leaving the borough. One thing you can’t find in Queens though is a proper night market. The closest thing is the late night (4 a.m. to 11 a.m.) soup and noodle counter at Malaysian spot Curry Leaves in Flushing.
Walk up to the counter and one of the ladies will ask what type of broth you want. I always get kari laksa, a fiery coconut-enriched broth. The next question is what type of noodle; I always get yellow, presumably wheat, noodles. Now comes the fun part, choosing from the dozen or so items to add to your bowl. These include fried tofu, several types of fish cake, long green hot peppers stuffed with fish paste, fried wontons, char siu, shrimp, veggies, and bitter melon. No matter how many items you add it’s unlikely that the bowl will run over ten bucks. It makes for a hearty late-night snack, or breakfast.
The best time to eat there is half an hour or so before dawn. Watch the sun rise from the bottom of a soup bowl figuratively speaking. After an iced coffee and pandan gelatin to calm the kari fire, walk out into the early morning light and check out the live fish delivery trucks as they make their rounds on Main Street.