Suki Thai Shabu Shabu
Haven't seen a post about this place in Woodside. My wife an I have been there a couple of times and I turned a couple of friends onto the place. A little looking around says that Thai Shabu Shabu is a popular twist on its namesake at Thai places in Japan. Take boring broth and kicking up a notch or ten. Three choices of broth, from a relatively mild chicken or vegetable broth to sour and slightly spicey Tom Yam, to Esan basil broth that is supposed to be hotter but have not tried it yet. You get a plate of very nice fresh veggies (taro, squash, cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, and more plus glass noodles in small qty's) and an egg plus you can choose a standard assortment of goodies to 'dip cook' in the broth, like meat centric, or seafood centric, or mushroom centric, etc. And/Or you can pick and choose add ons from the alacarte menu. You can add some more spice from the flavor bar that has add-ons like chopped peppers, cilantro, nam pla prik, limes, roast rice powder, and more. It is a very interactive meal.
Both times we went I had the Tom Yam and it is genuinely delicious and does get better as the meal goes on. Just watch out for your mouth getting burned by the hot broth. All the veggies have been superbly fresh. Tonight we had the mushroom assortment with some assorted add-on sides. Very nice, again mushrooms all very fresh, fish balls were nice and firm with good flavor but not fishy, beef side was good but really overwhelmed by the broth. Both my wife and I give this place a thumbs up. Next time I'm going for the Esan broth.
My wife and I went yesterday and loved it. Had the spicy basil broth, my wife had the assorted meat and I had the assorted seafood. the meat was good, but I agree it was slightly overwhelmed by the broth. The seafood was incredibly fresh and delicious. I have never tried shabu shabu before, so I don't really have a point of comparison, but though the food was great and the whole experience was a lot of fun.
Finally!! a Thai Suki place in NYC!
You have no idea how hard it is to get decent Thai Suki here. I was so desparate to get it that I actually made the painful mistake of ordering at Sripraphai (I love Sripraphai, but boy was I disappointed).
I haven't been to Thailand in years and I have been craving MK like crazy (For those of you who don't know what MK is, it's probably the largest Thai Suki chain restaurant with hundreds of locations all over Thailand..... good stuff, really good stuff). Why on earth don't we have MK locations in the US??? Hopefully there are some other MK fans among us NY Chowhounders.
While reviewing the New York Thai Newspaper, I noticed an ad for this place and couldn't believe my eyes! So off to Queens we went. We got there about 6:30 PM on a Tuesday. The place was practically empty, but slowly filled up later. It was quite small, only an isle of about 7-8 tables and a bar seating area. We started off with some appetizers steamed ribs, shrimp rolls and shrimp summer rolls. The ribs (not my choice) were surprisingly good, so good that we decided get three more orders to go. They were seasoned with minced lemongrass and served with Siracha dipping sauce and were fall off the bone tender....very tasty. The shrimp rolls were nothing special, not bad but typical of what you might find at any Thai place. The shrimp summer rolls tasted fresh and the pineapple sauce was an interesting non-traditional take on this popular Vietnamese snack. BTW, not sure if this was just a Tuesday thing, but they gave us a discount if we ordered 3 appetizers.
There beverage selection was great. They had a wide assortment of bubble teas and smoothies. We decided to go with your standard Thai iced tea. The glasses were really tall and generously sized. I will definitely try the bubble tea next time.
My bother is not really a Suki fan so he ordered kaew mun gai (the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice, a common cafeteria dish in Thailand, but not so often found or ordered in American Thai restaurants). He said it was pretty good.
Now for their specialty....the Suki of course! We couldn't help but approach the place as if we were eating at an MK even though the place is not really set up that way. In an MK restaurant, the Suki is cooked in one big pot in the middle of the table and served family style with each diner allowed to participate in the cooking process. Unfortunately it seems the tables were set up so that each person could have there own small personal pot (I guess we Americans are not really accustomed to sharing food in restaurants this way). As per MK style we decided to share one Suki set (the seafood one) and order additional ala carte items to add as needed. The set came with one small pot of broth and I assumed the role of cooking and serving (we later learned that we could have ordered additional individual pots of broth for $3 each, we will definitely do that next time since it was really awkward and time consuming trying to cook and serve out to everyone from my small little pot). As mentioned by the other posters, they had 3 broth options, house vegetable, Tom Yum, and E-ssan Suki. We went for the vegetable both since it seemed the most like MK where the Suki is flavored with the dipping sauce and we thought the other two broths might be too strong if we were adding additional dipping sauce. They had so many varieties of meats, meatballs, dumplings veggies, tofu and mushrooms to choose from...superb! Finally our server directed us to their condiment and dipping sauce bar which was a little tight and cramped, but they definitely had great assortment. I tried experimenting to make a sauce as close to MK's as possible, I basically combined the seafood dipping sauce and Suki sauce and added cilantro, garlic, chilis and sesame seeds, it was not exact, but pretty good.
The servers were very friendly and attentive, made sure our water glasses were full and provided us with extra napkins and lobster crackers (for the crab legs) without us asking. It seemed like it was family/friend owned. I give great props to the owners for taking the bold move of opening this place. Overall we were very happy with our experience and will try to come more often (*Sigh* why do all the good Thai places have to be in Queens?)
Please......Please support this place! I know it may not exactly be everyone's cup of tea, but I don't believe there is currently anything in New York like it and I doubt there will be for a while.