Khao Kang

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79 Solid

A handsome, high-turnover steam-table spot modeled on Thailand’s rice-and-curry shops.

76-20 Woodside Ave., Queens, NY, 11373

718-662-8721

http://www.khaokangnyc.com/

Known For

The lowdown

At Khao Kang, there is a curry soup called kang som pla, packed with shreds of pickled bamboo shoots and fish, that is absolutely atomic. It’s spicy, even for this restaurant, where, as a rule, the food gets hot to the point where regular breathers are necessary (unless you grew up popping bird’s-eye chiles into your mouth for sport). But the soup is also tantalizingly sour, courtesy of tamarind; a hint sweet to cut the chiles and tartness; and engrossing enough to compel you to keep at it despite the shellacking you’re receiving. The steam-table restaurant is what you might call a curry-and-three, named for and in the style of Thailand’s raan khao kaeng restaurants. But the cooking is vivid, varied, and homey in a way that you wouldn’t expect from a steam table. Plus, the turnover is quick, so the dishes don’t wither away. There’s no set menu — just ten or so unmarked dishes with an emphasis on curry — but don’t worry: The kitchen’s batting percentage is pretty close to perfect. You can expect dishes like squid coated in dry spices; sour sausage and eggs; pork with basil; chicken and pork larb; and tom kha gai or chicken, coconut, and galangal soup. Make sure to round your palate with a milder dish (your mouth will need the relief) like glass-noodle stir-fry with egg or a sweetish fried-pork preparation called moo tod.

What you need to know

DrinksNo Alcohol

Noise LevelCivilized