Long before I ever slurped the kuai tiao that have taken Queens by storm in places like Pye Boat Noodle, Pata Paplean, and Plant Love House I took great pride in ordering my food Thai spicy. Whether larb, curry, or som tum the resulting chili pepper overkill from uttering those two words invariably left my lips burning and nose running. These days I rarely ever utter the words “Thai spicy.” The bowl of noodles that goes by the name Summer ($12.95) currently being served at Plant Love House is far more incendiary than any dish I ever consumed during my Thai spicy days.
“You’re going to sweat,” the waitress said as I looked at the menu supplement which bore a picture of the dish along with the words “Summer. The heat is real. Dare you to try.” I shrugged off her warning along with the dare and waited for the noodle soup.
When she plunked down the bowl I was pretty surprised, both by the sheer redness of the broth and the gigantic crustacean. And then I took I sip of broth. It was spicy, with an undertone of lime, chili, and garlic. A hard-boiled egg, bacon, and a home-made sweet pork patty kept the prawn company. There was a nice smokiness from the bacon, but above all there was the unmistakable flamethrower heat that comes from plenty of red chilies.
At first I gamely slurped the broth and noodles, and then my lips started to burn. So I alternated between bites of hard-boiled egg, prawn, and sweet pork patty. Then I returned to the volcanic broth and my nose started to run.
“So that’s why they gave me so many napkins,” I thought as I sucked the brain out of the prawn shell and ate the rest of the flesh before returning to face down the blazing hot broth. About three-quarters of the way through I threw in the proverbial towel, vanquished by the summer heat. It’s only the second time I’ve left a spicy challenge dish unfinished, the first was the infamous phaal at Brick Lane Curry House.
After I mopped the sweat from my brow I learned that the heat comes from fried chilies and their oil and that a sweet pork patty is a common addition to spicy noodles back home.”Everybody loves bacon and eggs,” I was told about the breakfast duo.
The incendiary Summer noodle soup was created by Plant Love House’s matriarch Peak Manadsanan. “She’s at home because her allergies are bothering her,” the waitress said. “Mine were bothering me before I had that soup,” I quipped as I said my goodbyes.
Plant Love House, 86-08 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-565-2010