Archive for the ‘drool factor’ Category

Frankly Speaking

June 2, 2014

by Florence Ondré

Now, you know how much my dear Tom and I love Thai food. We’re sure we have had a life in Thailand and it was fragrant with aromatic flavors of The Land Of Smiles.  We believe the good that is experienced gets carried over into other life experiences.. and many, on the palate!

Literally, I can sense-smell and taste the curries  and cuisine I know in the very cells of my being and sense-feel the sweetness and crunch of the dishes that called me before I even tasted Thai food in this lifetime.

So, of course, as we travel all over the world, we are like heat-seeking missiles for Thai restaurants near and far.  The difference is that the Boom when we find our targets, is only the Kapow! in finding high yum factors!  There is no distraction; only the magnitude of pure joy in tasting the diversity in dishes which, many times, bear the same names on menus.

While in New York City one evening, before attending theatre, we popped in to a place new to us.  Sheer spur of the moment and happenstance… Yeah, right!

We were seated at a table for two, enjoyed a lovely meal and the bonus was that the couple at the table next to us became the gift that keeps on giving.  They looked over at the dishes on our table as we looked over theirs and we struck up a conversation filled with recommendations of beloved dishes and exchanged favorite restaurants.  This pleasant chance meeting sent us straight to one of the best Thai restaurants on Long Island that we had been unaware of, for years.

Frankly Thai at 959  Hempstead Avenue in Franklin Square, NY, turned out to be every bit as good as our dinner mates said and the welcome to this lovely spot was warm and light filled, as if we were long lost relatives.

We tried some of our personal fav appetizers and entrees the first visit and the Chicken Saté was close to the best we’d ever had and their peanut sauce, also high ranking was finger licking good.  A crunchy sweet tamarind, Mee Krob and Tom Kha Gai coconut soup filled with aromatic galangal flavor were also delicious.

The husband and wife owners, Frank and Jin,  were amiable and happy to talk about ingredients and variations on cuisine.  Jin is from Thailand and is the chef,  while Frank is a cherubic, Italian stationed at the bar, glad handing everyone like the family maitre d.  They both are passionate about good food and fresh ingredients and are willing to make anything your way. So, if you like the food a little more or less spicy or have a special Thai favorite, they can and do accommodate with pleasure.

One of their specials from time to time is a very interesting Kao Soi, yellow curry, with a bit more zip  than simple yellow curries and Jin’s version has thick udon noodles in the golden sauce with de riguere crispy noodles on top.  My dear Tom was in Heaven…and I joined him on cloud nine when trying an appetizer on their regular menu called Shrimp Rolls.

Lo and behold!  The Thai angels were watching over me as I crunched ecstatically into the best Koong Sarong (shrimp in spring roll with  sweet and spicy sauce)  since my two favs, Marnee Thai in San Francisco and E Saan in Sonoma, Ca.  The cilantro and shrimp  in each crisp wrapper was scrumptious!  My joy at finding some of my all time favorite delectables here on the East Coast, close to home was over the moon! Did any of you hear me g’shraying (Yiddish for vocal shreiking) in ecstasy from restaurant table to your ears?  We knew we’d found a home close to home and vowed to let the “popping in begin!”

On subsequent visits, we tried a really interesting twist on Massaman curry….A Massaman Roti; chicken wrapped in roti (fried flat bread), topped with avocado, pineapple, sweet potato and peanuts in a light, almost golden, tamarind sauce, which moved us to finger-licking the dish for every drop of that incredible sauce.  When the waitress came over to ask how we liked it, she said,”Wow! I guess we won’t have to wash that plate!”

High praise it was indeed; a kin to the first time I had chicken Massaman in Sonoma,CA., and was so astonished at its divinity, I mentioned I could lick the plate.  Being dared, I picked up the serving dish and slurped every drop of that sweet sauce clean as a whistle and held the plate aloft so that everyone in the restaurant got the message, including the chef/owner, Sunny.  Everyone laughed good naturedly at my tossing poor Emily Post out the front door and applauded  the ultimate huzzah!

And here we were in NY;  face to plate again.  Within 20 minutes from home!

Frankly Thai is frankly to die for, with high drool and yum factors on so many levels.

Oh, go ahead, people, go!  Have a nice chat with Frank and Jin and try some old favs and new experiences in a happy, homey atmosphere.  When you’re here, you are family!

And frankly my dears, you will, I assure you, give a damn!

Frankly Thai is frankly fabulous!

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You’ve Got To Ring Them Bells!

May 27, 2014

by Florence Ondré

For years on Long Island, New York, have been praying for some really good Thai restaurants to open.  There have been a few but they were pedestrian or too far away to pop into.  And being lovers of Thai food, my dear Tom and I like to pop in several times a week.

In Seattle, Washington, there are Thai restaurants on practically every block and they range from good to fantastic!  So, we got spoiled spending time there and coming back to Long Island to only wishes for that kind of taste bud wealth, left us hungry for that quick and fresh ingredients cuisine.

Since Superstorm Sandy decimated so much of Long Island and people are a year and a half later still not rebuilding or home, we figured the Thai food Angels would most likely wait to grace us with our palate’s desires.  After all, first things first, satisfy the hunger to be safe home and leave the wishful dining yearnings for a later date.

Then one day while in my acupuncturist’s office; chatting with the front desk staff, I heard there actually were two new Thai restaurants open and close by.

I ran to the one and got a look see (and smell) and took a menu home.  No aromas of cooking or much Thai ambiance but, hey, it was a short drive andI thought, ‘give it time to get on its feet and then check again.’

The second recommendation was a small corner place in the west end of Long Beach on the Island’s South shore.

This area had taken the hardest hurricane hit and had been literally crushed under sand as the Atlantic ocean met the bay.  The sleepy, little bungalow part of the City By The Sea, as it is known, had been buried and broken badly.  Before the devastation, this barrier island community had seen three other Thai restaurant tries; one of which failed with part Chinese food, another which served authentic Thai deliciously prepared dishes sort of faded away.  I expect that arising from the over long wait for the food to make it from ordering to eating.  I finally stopped going there because I called it ‘the ass breaker meal!’  I like to linger with friends over a good meal but the wait was interminable here and winding up with my head face-plant down in my food dish from exhaustion at day’s end, didn’t ring-a-ding for moi.

The last was a small place in the center of town, next to the busiest pizza parlor, across from the commute to the Big apple, train station .  The food here started out good.  There were a few bumps, and still are with getting the order right, but they had a salmon salad and a crispy duck salad to die for!  Decent Pad Thai and Massaman Curry, Kee Mao, Kao Soi and pretty good Thai iced teas kept us coming back to this tiny modern place with a quirky waterwheel in the window.

They, unfortunately, were flooded under, like every other business on the main drag and, in the new  hard times; trying to scrape together a rebuild, had to cut some corners like everyone else.  Though the duck and salmon salad stayed good but got smaller and the staff got a little short on accommodation and Thai smiles, it was the moldy water from the flood ravaged pipes which was served and tainted their former sweet tea, that pushed us to stop settling for a dream that had faded.  I suspect their still being in business aprés, storm of the century, has a lot to do with location, location, location!  And, yet, I still hope for their full recovery in the future.

After the new reco, off we went to the west end, with all it’s bungalows now being remediated like Katrina homes, put up in the air on stilts; looking for all the world like blocks of random Jenga games for adults.  And lo and behold, the Angels shone a light on the corner of Beech Street and Wyoming!  Yea, verily and forsooth, Ra-Kang, 895 W. Beech St, 516-442-1313, turned out to be manna from Heaven in a recovery from Hell.

The place is wonderfully appointed with walls full of Kangs (bells) of all shapes and sizes. The architecture is walls of wood cut out to create depth and texture; many sized bamboo fans covering the ceiling;  a wall waterfall shimmering down quietly and a wait area decorated with two round avant garde wicker work, black and red puffy pillowed chairs which look straight out of a museum or grand Royal house, awe and make the diner feel fortunate among men.  I didn’t know whether to sit in them or photograph them, so I did both!

The owner pleasantly greeted, sat us and the wait staff surrounded us in those famous smiles.  We felt like we were in a Thai house on the outskirts of Chang Mai.

The menu is well rounded and fresh ingredients abound. We ordered an appetizer which looked like the Koong Sarong we love so much from Marnee Thai in San Francisco.  Here on their menu they’re named Shrimp Basil Rolls.   Several big shrimp with fresh basil inside a fried wrapper was served in a large Martini glass with fresh greens and a sweet and sour sauce.  First bite, I thought I’d gone to Heaven or been transported on my tastebuds from the City By The Sea to the City By The Bay!  Divine!

They have Ping Yang, three mix and match, skewered meat (or satay) of pork, beef, shrimp, duck, chicken and lamb.  We tried the duck, lamb and chicken.  Delicious with hearty Peanut  and Tamarind sauces to complement.  Excellent!

Their Mussamun Curry (Massaman-different places spell it differently) was served in a graceful, brass curved-handled serving bowl and was sweet and fruity with Tamarind, carrots and chicken.  (one could have beef or tofu as another choice).

We went back three times in a week and a half.  Tried the Mee Krob appetizer of crunchy, sweet crispy noodles with shrimp.  Every bit as good as my favorite in San Jose, California; looking like an upturned bucket, forming a small mountain on a plate. Chang Mai noodles, (also known as Kao Soi) was a fragrant, yellow curry with chicken, sprouts, shallots, egg noodles and crunchy noodles on top.  Total Yum factor!  They will make it as spicy or mild as you like.  They also do a lovely, fresh, basilly Kee Mao wide-noodle dish with fresh vegetables (with or without meat or tofu) in a brown sauce with a little kick (again, you can ask for your own taste bud level).  Their duck salad was fragrant, crispy and  equal to the best I’ve ever enjoyed.

Each successive time we dined, the Shrimp Basil rolls were our first course and each time they were still divine and just as beautiful as the first encounter, in taste and presentation. Big drool factor just thinking of them as I write this.

The only drawback for this restaurant, is it ‘s a bit more expensive in pricing than some other really good Thai restaurants.  Still, we return because the food is worth it, one of the best restaurants in town…and we’re hoping they grace us with their presence and culinary gifts for a very long time to come.  The thing I love about this restaurant (other than it’s proximity to my house) is that it is one of the most gorgeously appointed restaurants and the food is equally as magnificent in both looks and taste!  I’d say Ra Kang rings all the right bells and is a Thai trifecta!!


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Not Your Ordinary Burgers At The ‘Box’

June 20, 2011

Truffle Luv Kobe Cheeseburger

Rosemary fries

Today at Lunchbox Laboratory,  in Seattle, Father’s Day was celebrated with a ‘Mustaches Gone Wild’ event.

“Mustaches eat free on Father’s Day!  Any Dads sporting a ‘stach will get a free burger. Don’t worry, if you can’t grow one, we will have one for you to wear during your next meal.” said their poster.

Thinking about how often I felt like both Father and Mother to my kids  when they were growing up, led me to my desk and a pad of  blank paper  and a pair of scissors. The next thing, I’m sportin a full lavender mustache, my purple shades and a grin while Tom has gotten creative with  the curved arrow symbol from an box.  A couple of folds of tape and off we drove to check out the restaurant’s new digs on Thomas Street… and see how many people actually showed up with over the lip wear.

The answer: a lot.

And my paper nose tickler got some laughs.  I fit right in with the waitress, who wore an orange fuzzy over her upper lip, and the Mom next to me, who twirled a supermarket receipt into a Salvador Dali.

One couple had fashioned two versions of  Sweet Adeline /Jerry Colonna handlebars and Tom, in his Nike-like, black line over his lip; ending in an upshot arrow, pointing toward his cheek, stood out in the pack of real hair mustachios, ranging from light to dark; thin to bushy; just the top to full and Van Dykes.

Check out the photo gallery at the above addy.  The fun is on facebook too.

At indoor and outdoor tables, burgers were living up to their Zagat and Epicurious positive gourmet reviews and honorably true to the advertisement, ‘staches ate gratis.

I had the Truffle Luv Kobe cheeseburger with bacon, swiss and truffle mayo and Rosemary fries and Tom had the Smoker, Kobe beef , creamy Havarti, honey cured bacon, Lunchbox onions and smoked pepper mayo and Tater Tots. We were two happy celebrants of the Day of Dad’s, I can tell ya.

When this establishment was in its small Ballard digs, we’d eaten there, enjoyed the cameraderie in close quarters, viewing the collection of vintage lunch boxes and lava lamps and loved the Lamb burger with Blue cheese and sweet potato fries and a homemade mac n cheese to die for. The lunchbox collection, lava lamps and recipes  have travelled well to this larger space; having lost none of any of the flavor.

They serve salads and funky good appetizers and whip up some mighty tasty shakes in a tempting variety with seasonal choices.

The atmosphere is fun and the food good.


Drool factor: OMG! Get me a bucket o truffle mayo to go.

I overheard a bunch of guys at the table behind ours,raving, “That’s the best burger I’ve ever had!”

Oh, yeah.

Still lickin’ the fingers.

See Why At Sea Thai

June 18, 2011

Curry Puffs at Sea Thai Restaurant 

Nam Kao Tod “Crispy Fried Rice”

Kao Soi- yellow curry noodles

Catching lunch at Sea Thai restaurant, one of our all time favorite Thai eateries in Seattle, Wa.,, brought the unusual usual to our table with one of the best Thai iced teas around. We love their Crispy Fried Rice (aka: S11 on the menu of specialities) with slivers of red onion and fresh ginger in a sweet tangy sauce and lettuce leaves to make your own wraps and yummy, light, warm, crispy curry puffs.

Intending to just have a nosh, we spotted a new offering on the day’s specials board: Kao  Soi, yellow curry noodles with a sweet easy on the palate sauce bordering on creamy soup with lengths of  medium egg noodles and crunchy noodles creating a wavy  top knot to the bowl.

The new chef brought this recipe with her from the North of Thailand and, though one may order it as spicy as you like, we chose to stay at the bottom of the heat index.  There was just enough of a zip on the back taste to perk it, yet not over shadow the sweet and multi-layered flavors of the dish.

My Dear Tom had just been saying how he was hankering for a curry/soupy noodle dish and this fit the bill like the Angels must have been listening; ’cause it surely sounded and looked like they  said, “Voila! Here ya go. We heard ya. Have some Heaven on a plate.”

Cue the Hallelujah chorus.

It was that divine.

We’ve enjoyed this place for years now and find they stay true to their consistency of a flavor full menu in quality and variety, using fresh ingredients to create authenticity.

They’ve delighted with Green Curry Beef, Pumpkin Curry with chicken and the best Som Tum (green papaya salad), Tom Yum and Tom Kha Gai soups in the U.S.

Trust us, we’ve tried Thai restaurants all over this country. (We will go off the beaten track along life’s highways and bi ways for Thai food)

Sea Thai in Wallingford, Wa., an area of Seattle near the University district is reasonable, reliable and rockin’ good.

The people who cook for you and serve you here are dear and sweet.  They really do want you to have the most enjoyable dining experience possible. They deliver in their area, do take-out and catering too.

Don’t let the facade fool you.  The physical restaurant is cozy and small but the taste here is big.

Let M set you up and recommend a few dishes.

And if you are lucky enough to drop in when Renoo is in town, making her homemade authentic Thai desserts, you won’t be able to wipe the ‘Ahhh’ smile off your face for weeks.

Drool factor: stratospheric.

Breakfast Of Champions

June 18, 2011

Cupcakes! Not just for dessert anymore!

Especially if they are minis…mere wisps of flavor which linger on palate and in mind..isn’t that half the calories at least?  Or does it count if you just look at the photo and imagine?

Peek inside the pink box….mmmmm….a little slippy slidy looking from the ride home but still got the yum factor intact!

While strolling through the Farmer’s Market, sampling truffle cheese,  vanilla pear jam, local made sausage flavors, crisp freshly picked apples, basil and arugula and warm freshly pulled mozzarella, what should appear before my happy eyes but tiers of tiny clouds of sweet icing atop teensy, one (possibly two) biter cakes. Thimble sizers in a dazzling array of gem colors and flavors.  I could not resist.

It was day’s end, so into the pink box went the remaining 3 mango cupcakes with passion fruit, yellow icing; the single green tea with almond icing and chocolate cardamom sprinkles and the lone BLT version topped with a sun dried tomato which the baker calls, “Kiss The Pig.”

All I can say is, I have tasted them all and kvelled to the max.  In fact, I’m still breathing in the light aromatic passion fruit..or is it my imagination and memory playing the palate’s siren song?

Went to the baker’s website,, and am ready to suit up immediately if not sooner to hunt them down in their natural Farmer’s Market habitats and keep the magic going for at least one more breakfast bonanza.

My friends Carol, Sandy, Monica and Laurene are living vicariously through me from 3 different U.S. states and Lori, my N.Y. sister, who frequently plays Ethel to my Lucy in escapades (which cannot be shared unless you want us to have to kill you),  told me to stop angsting over calories  already and just enjoy myself.

So, I took her advice.

Big G, glad I did!

And as cupcake connoisseur, Niece Natalie, so succinctly and aptly puts it…Yum!

Drool factor: off the charts.

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