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Zabb Thai - first time visit

A Sri faithful going to Zabb Thai for the first time tonight. Any specialties or favorites I should look out for or items I should avoid? Thank you.

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  1. The duck salad is pretty classic and amazing. And fwiw, their Thai iced teas are the best I've ever had.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Widmark

      Is Zabb Thai better than Zabb City in Manhattan, never made it to ZT the first time. Tried Zabb City last Friday and wasn't too impressed. Limited menu @ the Manhattan branch, too.

      1. re: moymoy

        I've found the preparation slightly different at times, but I've mostly enjoyed it as much. I find I can't go wrong with the duck salad at either location. The queens menu is much larger.

        1. re: moymoy

          its a totally different operation, diff cook, diff menu.. The Queens Zabb has very interesting food, especially the salads and some of the noodles. Maybe some of the grilled meats too, but skip their curries. You should enjoy.

          1. re: jen kalb

            in my experience, the duck salad is mostly the same with a few minor differences, though there's a bit of variance at either. And they both have the best thai iced tea I've ever had, for what it's worth.

      2. Although I am also a Sri faithful, I have to admit that Zabb does a better version of the drunken noodle dish. I order it almost every time I am at Sri, as recently as last Sunday, but the one I had at Zabb did not have the ground meat but actual pieces.
        It was also hotter'in hell, but still flavorful.

        1. haven't gone for a while, but in my experience stick to the salads, appetizers, and noodle dishes there.

          I like the drunken noodles, tho i prefer the ground meat on sri's.

          they do a good beef (or it pork?) and eggplant salad (spicy!), and many say their som tam with the raw crab is great, if that's your thing (it's not mine)

          they have a lot of salad/apps that sri doesn't have, so i would go with those.

          in general, i think the food at zabb is good and wonder why it doesn't get more kudos on this board. I think it must be because their curries are weak (not an issan thing) and most people who go for thai food want curry. My SO doesn't really like thai curries and loves issan food, so this is not a problem for us.

          also, for me, the atmosphere at zabb feels way more "thai" than sri does since it's makeover.

          1. It's much smaller than Sri - about 8 tables total in one long narrow storefront - and open much later (after midnight on the weekends). Most of the recommendations below are good. I really love their beef salad and their noodle dishes, as well as some of the other Issan specialties. You should also try their Thai ice cream, which is usually made in house, preferably in combination with the fried banana.

            1. I go there about once a week for late meals - they're open til 3am. Crispy pork & chinese broccoli is my favorite dish. The pork is prepared like chicharrones. It's sitting in a puddle of delicious garlicky sauce. You will feel so fat and satisfied afterwards.

              Zabb was my dad's first thai food. We had the seafood pot (last page of menu, $25). It comes in either clear (not spicy) or spicy soup. The seafood comes w/ mussels, shrimp, clear (vermicelli?) noodles, lettuce & mushrooms. When we were done, dad pronounced, "thai food is good." And even tho he was telling me to go easy on the crispy pork, he was spooning up the sauce like crazy.

              I also prefer their drunken noodles to Sri.

              some pics:

              Have fun!

              3 Replies
              1. re: congee

                After picking up my new favorite: soft tofu from the Korean market on Woodside Avenue, I walked past here today (Saturday about noon) and Zabb was closed...did they just get a later start today..???

                1. re: erica

                  I've never been by that early but word is they start late and are open from dinner till 1 or 2 am.

                  1. re: Widmark

                    Thanks very much..I asked because I was planning to try the place soon and walked by to take an advance peek...

              2. Firstly, I love thai food, can eat it everyday if I could. Made it to Zabb Queens last night. After dining at Zabb City recently I was anxious to try the Queens branch just to compare. Zabb City left something to be desired, not bad just not as good as I had expected.

                Salads seem to be the number one rec of fellow CH'ers so we went with that.

                Papaya salad with shrimp & squid...the acidity and tang of the papaya was great but there was some sort of ground up shrimp paste that was SO fishy. It overwhelmed the dish to the point I felt I couldn't swallow. I like fish sauce, I enjoy the dried salted little shrimps that most papaya salads have but the ground up version was just too potent for us.

                Laab...One of my favorite thai dishes anywhere. Now unless I'm wrong, this dish should be served at room temperature and should be spicy and tangy. The version we got was very warm, almost hot in temp and although well spiced was missing the sweet-sour tanginess. We thought the chef might have forgotten the lime or something.

                Final dish was chinese broc with crispy pork...this dish I enjoyed, very garlicy and a little salty but it went really well with the jasmine rice. The portion size wasn't comparable to Sri's but I liked it just as much as Sri's if not slightly better.

                Overall, I can see why many Ch'ers like Zabb Queens and I'm not trying to bash ZQ but in my opinion Sri on a mediocre day is still better than the two Zabb's I've tried. Or maybe I just don't enjoy Issan style thai food.

                7 Replies
                1. re: moymoy

                  i was wondering about the temperature of the laab as well. i had it at zabb city, and it was served steaming hot which i found quite off-putting (also not very flavorful, but that's another issue).

                  1. re: wleatherette

                    i agree totally, hot laab is not appetizing at all, i let it cool a bit before eating but like you mention the flavoring was way off.

                    1. re: moymoy

                      I prefer cool laabs too but there are dozens of varieties of laab. In northern Thailand and Isaan half the laabs are served warm. The only laabs guaranteed to be served cold are the ones made with raw beef or raw pork.

                      1. re: el jefe

                        raw pork? Isn't that dangerous?

                        1. re: janie

                          Perhaps, although the actual number of cases of trichinosis is very low and usually comes from game animals rather than from pork. While we're quite sensitive to it here in the U.S., raw pork is served in many other countries. I've had it in Germany, Japan, and Hong Kong.

                  2. re: moymoy

                    Zabb (Queens) is inconsistent, even in its best dishes, but I do think maybe some of your reaction was just about not preferring the Issan or Lao style of these dishes. Unless you specifically requested "som tam tai" -- that is, the Thai version of papaya salad, which would probably just have some dry shrimps -- the defaut version there may be an Issan style, which would have the pervasive fishiness of pla raa, a strong fish mush, that you noted. There is also a version there with salted crab (som tam pu). It's been a while, but I think the menu explains they offer all three (it may only say that in Thai)?

                    I also know what you mean about the temperature of laab, but it definitely is a dish you often get very warm. What meat did you have? I seem to recall that the pork and beef laaps at Zabb were really different, and one was much, much better -- except I forget which, I think the pork. I also think that their version of laap is meatier and a bit darker tasting than some of the lighter versions you find in other restaurants, and again, for me this is consistent with the regional style.

                    Issan stuff can seem odd... very hearty and funky. I don't think Zabb does the very best job of showing its strengths, maybe because it is just hard to get herbs to sing here as vibrantly as they do there, but I do think they have the basic gist right.

                    I've found the shrimp dishes at Zabb to be very good, so if you end up back there, give some of them a whirl. Or maybe just knowing that familiar dishes will taste "different" helps?

                    1. re: moymoy

                      Laab/Larb/Laap is actually a popular Lao dish that's served in both Lao and Thai restaurants. The Lao ethnics in Thailand helped to popularize Larb in Thailand. To generate additional income for themselves, Thai restaurant owners decided to take this Lao dish and introduced it to the western world (especially in the U.S.). Larb is still a traditional Lao dish, despite it being served in most Thai restaurants. However, traditional ingredients like tripe and other innards are omitted from the dish to cater to the western palate.

                    2. oops---wrong board! Never mind. :)

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: venera

                        But since you brought this thread to the top....

                        Has anyone else noticed that Zabb also has another place in Queens, just around the corner from Seva, the Indian place several of us have gone to recently. I meant to mention it before... anyone been?

                        1. re: Steve R

                          My understanding from others is that the Zabb in Astoria was opened by the owners of the original Zabb on Roosevelt Ave in Jackson Heights and the Zabb in Manhattan - but that they've now sold the original Zabb in Jackson Heights. Can anyone correct or confirm this from firsthand knowledge, since I've only gathered it from internet rumors? More importantly, has anyone been to the original Zabb lately and can comment on whether anything has changed??

                          1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                            The original Zabb was definitely sold, the menu looks different (design-wise and fewer selections) but I heard the chef is the same. It's not as consistent, but it's still pretty great. I think their Crispy Pork with Chinese Brocolli is better then Srips, and the duck salad is still good.

                          2. re: Steve R

                            I've been to Zabb Astoria once. The quality was there, but the menu was much shorter and lacked the exotic stuff.

                            1. re: hatless

                              I eat at Zabb on Roosevelt all of the time~
                              I did'nt know they changed owners, nor did I know of the other queens location.
                              I do know that I'm always happy!
                              The worst experience I have ever had was an under-cooked squid, which was corrected by a void over it on the check.
                              Food is great. One of the only places to get proper Issan/Laos food.
                              Please, fill me in on others ~

                              1. re: HaveTasteWillTravel32

                                Can someone tell me the exact address for the "original" Zabb on Roosevelt? Thanks! I'm dying to try their crispy pork w/Chinese broccoli. The version at Sri is so-so.

                                1. re: pinkylechat


                                  Zabb Elee
                                  71-28 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372