90 St - Elmhurst Avenue Thai and Mexican
- Christopher Armstrong
Yesterday I ate at Thaifriend, a restaurant on 90th St. just north of the 7 train. It's very small, and I haven't heard anything about it on these boards. Has anyone else eaten there?
I had pork pad prik. It wasn't enough to gage the quality of the kitchen. The pork was very moist and tender, but the sauce and overall vibe of the dish was rather bland.
They don't have sticky rice or larb. To me, good larb = good restaurant. Arunee (79th St. north of 7 train) has incredible larb. But Thaifriend does serve tripe, scrambled egg with pork, and various bloods and gizzards. That's a good sign, isn't it?
I'll eat there again next week. I think I ordered a bummer of a dish. Plus, the man who sits in the dining area (owner?) is super friendly; we discussed the election, and he is voting for Al Gore, because Bush sides with the wealthy and the big corporations.
On the way back to the train, I had a Mexican Food Moment. The tacqueria/grocery next door sells fresh, homemade gorditas. I had an al pastor. Question: does one order "uno gordita al pastor" or "uno gordita DE al pastor?" Either way, the gordita was absolutely amazing. Greasy and fresh, with soft pieces of pork, some of which were charred. I also discovered Manzanita del Sol; apple soda made with sugar, instead of corn syrup-- like Jarritos. But it was less sweet, and made with real juice. Yum.
I have been eating at Thai Friend for many, many years. It was the first place I ever encountered Thai food - I'm thinking it must have been the late 70's, though perhaps it was really the early 80's. It has a fond place in my heart. I used to go there very often, but these days only make it there about once a year.
The family that runs it is indeed very nice, and I certainly have had some enjoyable meals there over the years. There's a tiny kitchen, which you have to walk through to get to the tiny bathroom, adding to the feeling of intimacy I get there on slow nights when it's like someone's just going to amble into the kitchen and rustle up some grub because company stopped by. More like a neighbor at the kitchen table than a restaurant customer.
That said, I've found the cooking to vary quite a lot over the years (depends on who's in the kitchen,) which is my reason for not posting about it. Also there have been times when it seemed like hawking "one more Thai beer?" was more important than the cooking. I guess it's a tough location to survive in as a Thai restaurant. Over the years I've noticed little signs of slippage, like the virtual disappearance of shrimp from the Pad Thai (ok, so they still give you one shrimp, but c'mon!) I get a forlorn feeling from the place these days, which is not to say that a decent meal can't be had if the stars are aligned properly.
PS it's closed Tuesdays.