Elmhurst based cafeteria-style eatery Khao Kang has been the go-to spot for those in Queens and beyond looking for authentic, affordable Thai food. Building on the success of this business, co-owners Jackie Sarapaivanit and Tor Kosalanan (who is also the chef) decided to expand by opening the dessert-focused Khao Nom behind the original location. This cozy café offers a wide variety of sweets, as well as savory dishes.
Upon entering Khao Nom, the first things that will catch your eye are the desserts displayed in the front showcase. With over 10 types and more planned, they will satisfy any sweet tooth. Thai sweets’ main ingredients are rice flour, coconut milk and palm sugar. Kosalanan explains, “In Thailand desserts tend to be super sweet, but I toned that down based on my personal preference and that of the younger generation.” One standout dessert that is especially good for the winter is the hot Bau Loi, made of sweet potato and taro balls, a poached egg and young coconut milk in coconut milk syrup. Another interesting aspect of Thai desserts that Kosalanan shared is that sometimes candles are used to add aroma. You can get a clear sense of this smoky flavor from the Coconut Ball, with coconut flakes on the outside and a combination of coconut milk and sugar inside. Another not-to-be-missed dessert is the Pandan Cake, with cream sandwiched between two pandan flavored cakes and a sweetened egg yolk patty on top. Also, pandan leaf is featured prominently in Thai desserts, as seen in the Steamed Rice Flour Cake, Coconut Pudding and Pandan Cake.
According to Kosalanan, what makes the savory menu is special as it has some dishes from his hometown of Chanthaburi. This city in eastern Thailand is known for its herbs and spices, and a representative dish is “Chan” Noodle. It features grilled jumbo prawns served with stir-fried noodles, garlic, chives and bean sprouts in spicy tamarind sauce. Kosalanan says, “It’s similar to pad thai, but with a lot more flavor.” Indeed, the first bite is somewhat sweet until the spice kicks in. Speaking of spice, another recommended dish is the Noodle Yellow Curry Chicken, which packs a spicy punch thanks to the homemade curry. It is complemented by crispy egg noodles, sour mustard greens, shallots, scallions and cilantro. Other unique offerings are the Crispy Mussel Pancake make from a special batter and accompanied by sweet and sour sriracha sauce, and the Crispy Crab Spring Roll with garlic black pepper and cilantro.
Khao Nom’s walls are largely unadorned, but small touches like sewing machines that have been converted into tables and glasses filled with dried flowers hanging above them add to the atmosphere. Come by for a drink, dessert or meal and relax to your heart’s content!
Popular desserts include Steamed Rice Flour Cake, Coconut Pudding and Pandan Cake.
The Noodle Yellow Curry Chicken and “Chan” Noodle, are flavorful and filling.
76-20 Woodside Ave., (at 77th St.) Flushing, NY 11373