Thai temple-elmhurst, plus hand pulled noodles on whitney
went to the thai temple for the celebration today. we got there late and missed all the dancing (was sorry to miss the katoi dancing)
there was a lot of food. bowls of noodle soup and fried plantain/taro/peanut snacks out front, a sort of steam table set up with curries and other dishes inside the tent. many of the dishes weren't bad but the rice was atrocious and there was a notable lack of anything to drink but coffee, a problem when you're eating ped ped (spicy) food.
Since we were in the neighborhood we decided to check out elmhurst more and ended up at the dumpling/hand pulled noodle place on whitney. dumplings and sesame pancake don't compare to the place on eldridge in manhattan, but i was happy with the noodles. ordered the soup with noodles and pork and thought the broth was good, the noodles had a nice chew, and the pickled mustard greens and bok choy in it were tasty. However, this was my first hand-pulled noodle soup experience and I would love to know how this compares with some of the places in flushing or even the one in lower manhattan. also, i was blown away by the hot sauce/sesame oil with the chunk of dried red chile and sesame seeds in it. the flavor of that really spikes up anything!
we passed by chao thai, which was full of thais, and i saw the NYT review in the window. What are people's opinions of this place? worth a visit?
also passed by minang asli, which barely looked like a restaurant, and was empty. I have heard in the past that this place was really good. Is it still good?
All I can say is that the area around whitney avenue and broadway in elmhurst appears to be a chowhound's dream location. you've got it all there--perhaps not the best example of everything, but what seem to be decent examples of everything. I'd kill for an area like that in south brooklyn!
Lao Bei Fan is my favorite place for noodles and dumplings in the whole NYC. Firstly, it's the most authentic - many hand-pulled noodle places in Chinatown put in their names that they're from Lanzhou, but are run by fukianese. The couple who runs this place is actually from Lanzhou (supposedly the birthplace of hand-pulled noodles). Their noodles don't have a weird aftertaste that some hand-pulled places do. The broth is pretty good too. Since they come from a place that is sandwiched between Inner Mongolia and Xianjiang, their flavors not on spicy side, at the same time they're very generous with meat (in noodles and dumplings).
I'm not a big fan of their guo tei though (fried dumplings) - they're just ok (only because I like a place in Flushing better). The thing to get there is their steamed (boiled) dumplings.
My favorite thing to get there is thier cold spicy diced pork. They usually have it in a large plastic container right at the window. They run out of that stuff pretty quickly. But you have to be into eating tendons and cartiladge.
what's the fried dumpling place in flushing you like better? I'm always on the lookout for good fried dumplings!
I noticed while i was there that the steamed dumplings looked better than the fried, but my kids like fried, so we ordered those. I thought the noodles were excellent, as well. Perhaps the way to go is a nice bowl of soup with noodles and dumplings in it.
I visited Chao Thai for lunch last week. It was just two of us so we didn't order much, but the larb was some of the best I've ever had. Is the place better than Sripraphai? Dunno... Since their mega-expansions, I've found Srip to be quite inconsistent. This place reminds me a little of the 'old Srip'. Do be aware that it's a small storefront restaurant with only a handful of tables, though.
I also stopped afterwards at the dumpling place one block down Whitney. I had to wait for them to finish a batch of fried dumplings, and it was worth it. Large, plump, juicy... Excellent!
Agree with the above posters about the area. Wandering around the surround area definitely excited my inner-chowhound.
thanks for the info. on the thai outdoor festival. if you're ever out in LA, you must go to wat thai, which is an outdoor food court of sorts in the courtyard of a buddhist temple in north hollywood. great, cheap food and a quintessential SoCal asian chowing experience.
as for chao thai, i actually went there this past weekend for the first time after reading sietsema's review in the voice. my friend and i thought it was quite good, possibly even better than sripraphai. i realize that others in this thread weren't as impressed, so perhaps i was lucky to have eaten there on a good night. anyhow, i wanted to order sietsema's recommendations, but my friend wanted to stick with what she considered the "basics", so here's what we got:
-green curry with beef and eggplant
-tom yum soup with shrimp and mushrooms
-pad kee mao noodles with shrimp
-thai iced tea
i thought the green curry and esp. the pad kee mao were better than the versions i've had at sripraphai. i've been going to sri for years now, and have always felt that their noodle dishes aren't as good as the rest of their menu. at chao thai, the pad kee mao tasted cleaner (not as salty, among other things) and the flavors more distinct, while the noodles had a nice, light texture, unlike the gooey version i usually get at sri.
meanwhile, the eggplant in the green curry was super fresh, and the quality of the beef very good as well (incidentally, i've always felt the pork was better than the beef at sripraphai). the curry itself was clean-tasting and not overly heavy, as opposed to the muddled mess i've had at many ny thai restaurants. it was pretty spicy (as we'd requested), and quite good.
i thought the tom yum soup was fine, but i've definitely had better in LA. i actually like sripraphai's version better b/c it's a little "fishier" tasting to me, and also spicier.
the papaya salad was very good as well. nice balance of flavors and textures.
the thai iced tea was a bit of a disappointment, mainly due to sloppy preparation, but all in all it wasn't that big of a deal.
while we were there, we did notice that almost all of the other tables ordered this steamed whole fish dish. i didn't get a really good look at it b/c of where i was sitting, but considering that everyone in there was thai (except for us), i'm going to ask the waitress and order it next time i'm there.
thanks for the long report. I've been wanting to try the papaya salad, as the NYT review said it had lime peel in it, which i like. In bangkok, my favorite som tam place throws tiny pieces of lime into the mortar and pestle with everything else. they give it a slightly more sour/bitter flavor.
plus, I pine for the days of the old sri (i preferred the formica and flourescent lighting) so hearing that the vibe is kind of like that excites me.
I have eaten at minangasli twice and thought it was very good.
However, I think its one of those places where there are certain things which are real good and others that are mediocre.
Their fried chicken is awesome as are the various noodle dishes. The beef and chicken dishes in gravy, sauteed, etc. are ok.
The satays are the real deal especially with the rice cubes.
I'm live near Whiteney ave/B'way and it is indeed a fantastic place to live if you like amazing asian/south east asian and latin american food over by roosevelt.
re: Chao Thai--I don't get it; it's OK but the NYT and village voice reviews were a bit overblown IMHO. I think for good, solid thai, My Thai nearby on Dongan st is far superior. Chao is inconsistent (tho has some tasty specials) and is the only place that has served up food so spicy I could not eat it.
Neither My Thai nor Chao reach the intensity of flavors of sripraphai I think but I've found My Thai to be more consistent than Arunee.
I love that dumpling place. So cheap.
Ate at minang asli a few times but when I went there on saturday I have to say I was disappointed--the rendang was like pot roast with a touch of spice. I did notice the ownwer was not in attendance/cooking so perhaps when she's not cooking, it's not as good. Mie Jakarta is worth checking out, especially on a cold winter day.
Anyone been to the Taiwanese place on Broadway a few blocks past the LIRR tracks? It looks good but the menu is imtimidating for my western palate (e.g, lotsa dishes feat. Blood.)
Chao Thai scores high in my book. It is hard to blend that heat, which manages somehow to blow through you like a cool breeze, with pure flavor. I would gladly go back for the Squid Salad, as well as the red and green curries (I'm slightly partial to the red).
Where exactly are My Thai and Minang Asli located?
if you keep walking up whitney from chao thai, you'll hit the beijing noodle place, minangasli, some other restaurant, and another indonesian restaurant, mie jakarta.
my thai is located just off broadway, on dongan avenue, about 3 or 4 blocks towards queens blvd, on broadway, if you're coming from chao thai.
thanks for the review. i was thinking about going but couldn't make it --
i've been to the hand-pulled noodle place on whitney and am not particularly impressed. the place is trying something different and interesting, which is good, but i think they miss the mark -- noodles are good but broth is not great, etc.
i am a fan of chao thai -- i think they are among the best straight ahead thai places around. also, they have improved in the past year as well, so for people who tried them a while ago and found them lacking it's worth trying again. i would not put them on the same level as sripraphai, though.
and completely agreed about the area around whitney and broadway. if there is a cloudy cauldron from which all chow eminates, it is there.