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NYC

Review

Noah Devereaux

Khao Kang

$$$$
Thai  in  Elmhurst
Written by
Noah Devereaux

When you’re taking the subway and the train arrives the second you step onto the platform, you might feel warm inside and wonder what you did to deserve this. It’s a sensation similar to what you feel when you find a curly fry mixed in with all your regular fries, or buy a ticket to a raffle because you don’t want to seem cheap, then somehow win a trip to Lake Tahoe. If you’re looking for yet another way to experience this feeling, get some food at Khao Kang.

This counter-service spot in Elmhurst has a daily selection of around 10 different dishes, and you can get two for $8 or three for $9.50 (just make sure to bring cash). It’s a great deal - and once you realize how good everything is, you might feel undeserving. Did you discover the cure for something without realizing it? Are you being rewarded by the universe for never using your roommate’s bath products? Probably not. This place just happens to serve excellent Thai food that isn’t very expensive.

When you walk inside, you’ll see all the dishes laid out in pans behind the counter. Some things are pretty much always available, like a sour fish curry that’ll make you sweat from your hairline and some sweet fried pork chunks that should be available in every bar, movie theater, and other place where snacking occurs. Depending on what the kitchen feels like making, you might also see some breaded fish with big slices of eggplant, a mildly spicy tom yum soup, or chicken sautéed with liver and green beans. Order with confidence - because unlike the NBA Draft or the labyrinth in Labyrinth, there are no wrong choices here.

Get the three-entree combo (which comes with a mound of rice), and either take it to go or grab a seat. The space isn’t very large, but with its wood-paneled walls and hanging edison bulbs, it’s charming in an imitation-cabin kind of way. If you’re with a few people, get a table up front and stare out at Woodside Ave while you try all your food and listen to whatever’s on the stereo. Or if you’re by yourself, grab a stool so you can eat a quick meal, then get back to your regular schedule of work, laundry, and eating other food that probably isn’t as good as the stuff at Khao Kang.

If you live in the area, this should be one of your go-to spots for a fast and easy dinner. And if you don’t, you should still make the trip. Because despite the fact that you (probably) haven’t invented anything for the betterment of humankind - and you might actually borrow your roommate’s conditioner from time to time - you deserve to experience Khao Kang.

Food Rundown

The food here changes every day, but here are some things you might find.

Southern Sour Curry

When you order this, the person behind the counter might inform you that it’s spicy. And you should believe that person. But there’s plenty of free water in the cooler near the register, and we fully encourage you to order this tangy curry with fish and bamboo shoots.

Tai Pla Curry

This one’s a little milder than Southern Sour Curry, but it also has a bit more going on. It has a bunch of assorted vegetables as well as some little pieces of mackerel, and if we had to pick between the two curries, we’d choose this one. Although we sometimes get both.

Fried Garlic Pork

These fried chunks of pork will never be a bad choice. They’re covered in a sweet glaze, and you’ll want to fill your pockets with them or take some home and add them to your trail mix.

Ka Pao Moo

There’s a very good chance you’ll see this when you come here, and if you do, you should get a big scoop of it over your rice. It’s a bunch of ground pork mixed with chopped peppers and green beans, and it’s great when you want something a little less sweet than the fried garlic pork.

Kai Pa Lo

If you like sugar, you’ll appreciate this sweet-but-also-savory stew with big chunks of pork belly, tofu, and hard-boiled egg. But if you don’t, you should probably go with something else.

Pla Pad Cha

Breaded fish mixed with big pieces of eggplant. This is light, simple, and very good.

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