[CLOSED: Check out their new Brooklyn location]
It may not be saying much for New York City, but the Thai renaissance is definitely ongoing here over the past five years or so. Fantastic Thai restaurants are opening in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another entry, this time in the epicenter of the Thai community of Elmhurst, Queens is Plant Love House, which has been around for about a year now.
A big chalk board dominates the place and serves as a place to look first for your meal. They have menus too, so pick some dishes from everywhere and get what sounds good. Maybe a recommendation from the server as well.
The menu is constantly in flux with shifting specials.
The first dish that arrived at our table was the green curry with chicken, eggplant and basil (Gang gai $6.95, below). As I like curries cooked at home (suckas!), it is served over a bed of vermicelli noodles rather than with rice.
When asked what kind of spice level we wanted for our larb, I piped up to say we wanted it extra spicy, and they did not have a hard time making this happen. Our minced pork salad (Larb moo, $8.95, below) was excellent, if a bit offal free, mixed with mint, onions, plenty of chili, and doused in lime juice.
Possibly the show piece of any meal here, and definitely the plate to order and share with friends is the khao pad nam prik pla too ($13.95, below). The two items that the plate centers around are fried rice (khao pad) and a spicy shrimp paste (nam prik) that serves as a dip for all of the other items, and also serves to burn the interior of your body from lips to stomach. The items that get dipped are a selection of vegetables and fritters, as well as a whole fried mackerel (pla too).
Dessert here is celebrated, and all the Thai tables will be ordering at least one of the large dishes to share. It is all the rage these days for the well off young people in Thai cities to order complicated sweet and sticky desserts that cost more than most people make in a day, and those have translated here to Elmhurst in a couple locations. If you need some sweetness at the end of your meal, you will not leave here disappointed.