We’ve been trying to broaden our Thai horizons. Last year we finally got around to eating at Chao Thai 2 and loved it. Then, about a month later, the chef returned to Thailand and the restaurant closed. That was a big loss.
In the intervening year we’ve reloaded and now have 3 new Thai restaurants on our radar. They’re all in Queens because, well, that’s where most of the good Thai places are.
This time around we visited Spicy Shallot on a rainy Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. It’s in a familiar location – right across the street from Ayada. Here’s the view from our table.
It almost felt like cheating to forsake an old favorite and start a fling with someone new. But sometimes you have to make hard choices.
Going to Spicy Shallot was a bit of a roll of the dice. It bills itself as both a Thai and Japanese restaurant. Normally this would make the place radioactive to me. As a rule restaurants that claim to do two things do neither of them well. Of course there are rare exceptions. Legend in Manhattan is one of them. Spicy Shallot is another.
Décor is a small step down from Ayada and perhaps another small step above Sripraphai. (We were sitting by the window near the cash register to get away from the considerable draft created by a large group that held the door open for almost 15 minutes. The main dining area is more attractive than our location.)
On the positive side natural light makes for good food pictures.
We ordered 4 dishes and wished we could have managed to order more.
Sweet Pork jerky
The name is a bit misleading. “Jerky” implies dry – these pieces were quite juicy and just a bit sweet. There was also a touch of sourness and an undercurrent of chili heat. The accompanying chili dipping sauce added as much heat as you could want. The pork was slightly crispy and the portion was beyond generous. It could have fed two people. This dish was a winner.
Spicy pork larb
This was a nice version with real heat. Pouring a bit of the vinegar dressing at bottom of bowl over the top gave it even more of a kick. It was very well made and hotter than most versions. Very good indeed.
Spicy Nam Tok Beef Salad - fresh chili, grounded roasted rice, shallot and mint
This is one of those “good … but” dishes. Like similar Thai salads this one is served at room temperature. The beef was well cooked but juicy and it packed a medium level of spicy heat which built over time. The rice powder on the beef added crispness and the basil, onion, and lettuce provided a nice counterpoint. In terms of preparation and spicing this dish was perfect.
The issue here, and I’ve found it at a number of other Thai restaurants, is that rising beef prices have led them to use cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. The results are uneven. Some pieces are perfect but others are unpleasantly chewy. I wish they’d either raise their prices and buy better beef or take these dishes off the menu.
Pad Se-ew noodle w chicken - stir fried flat rice noodle Asian broccoli, egg soy sauce.
The chicken had a pleasant grilled flavor with a bit of caramel and the noodles fulfilled their role as a sauce delivery vehicle This dish is a first cousin of other Thai noodle dishes like pad key mao or drunken noodles. I like both of them but they can be a bit heavy. The flavors here were a touch cleaner and lighter. Another winner.
The menu at Spicy Shallot has plenty of appealing choices on it. We’re going to put this place in the rotation and look forward to trying them.
Spicy Shallot serves Sapporo beer which is terrific with Thai food. I love its astringent dryness and find that Thai beers are a bit too sweet for my taste.
If you’re driving, metered street parking is $2.00 for two hours and there’s plenty of it. You can be a sport and spring for the meter.
At a lot of Thai restaurants they serve the entire meal as quickly as the kitchen can turn the dishes out. That can be a little annoying at best and at worst can result in a seriously overcrowded table. When we were there our 4th dish didn’t come out for about 20 minutes after the first 3. When I finally asked about it the server said he’d noticed the table was full and was waiting until some of the other dishes were finished so there’d be room for the last dish. The kitchen cooked our Pad Se-ew noodles in about 4 minutes and it was served fresh from the wok. Wouldn’t it be nice if this type of thing catches on.
Spicy Shallot is on the same block as the Woodside Dreamhouse. I never get tired of saying that name.
77-01 Woodside Ave.