Chao Thai

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83 Very Good

Elmhurst’s tiny yet impressive Chao Thai is one more reason why Queens dominates that culture’s food scene.

8503 Whitney Ave., Queens, NY, 11373

718-424-4999

Known For

The lowdown

Chef-owner Ratchanee Sumpatboon has made her mark by expanding all over the city (see Lan Larb Soho and Zabb Elee, below), scattering spicy specialties from her native Isan in her wake. Here there are only 25 seats, enlivened by little more than green walls, a strand of Christmas lights, and a few anthropomorphic knickknacks. Fiery-tart papaya salad comes speckled with peanuts then garnished with crinkle-cut carrots and a tangle of vermicelli-thin beet strands. Plump green beans balance decadent rectangles of pork belly in the ruddy pad prik khing. Jungle curry is easily the hottest item available — coconut-milk-free, swirling with eggplant, pumpkin, and bamboo shoots — and it might also be the healthiest.

What you need to know

Recommended DishesJungle curry; som tum; pad prik khing.

DrinksNo Alcohol

Noise LevelCivilized