Tue, 10am-7pm, Wed-Mon, 10am-8pm
6, J, N, Q, R, Z to Canal St.
For anyone whose experience in cooking Thai food consists of opening a jar of Thai Kitchen satay sauce, this tiny shop is a revelation. The floor-to-ceiling shelves and cases are stocked with just about every hard-to-find ingredient you could want: fresh kaffir lime leaves, galangal, bird chilies, loaves of palm sugar, green golf-ball size eggplants, shrimp pastes, banana leaves and canned Asian fruits like rambutans, mangosteen and jackfruit. Once you try the potent fresh curry pastes from the refrigerator case (in red, green, massaman and jungle varieties), you'll never go back to the jarred stuff. For the even more ambitious, there are granite mortar-and-pestle sets to grind your own. But what really makes Bangkok Center a joy is owner Nong Premjit, who cheerfully explains ingredients, offers cooking tips and even stocks a pile of printed recipes near the cash register.