A new Asian restaurant opening in Queens is like a new coffee shop opening across the East River in Manhattan: an expected occurrence that will soon blend into the neighborhood background. It is only a few months later when lines to get into these places still exist that you begin to take notice, ring up your spouse and say “hmmm...honey let’s try this place”. That’s my thoughts on today’s sensation: Nur Thai.
Opened only in August in Rego Park, Nur Thai continues to dazzle their diners with authentic Thai food in a fully Halal manner. With a large range of proteins to choose from including beef, chicken, tofu, shrimp, and squid, along with a large vegetarian selection, the two native Thai chefs in the back of the house have given their patrons a wide variety of choice in what sauces, accompaniments, and cooking styles you wish to try ensuring that everyone from the pickiest of eaters to those well versed in Thai cuisine have multiple options to order.
After waiting no more than 2 minutes, I was promptly led to my table by Nur Thai’s owner (who I later found out to be Bengali). Rather than being another hole in the wall joint, Nur Thai has an almost sophisticated lounge type feel with modern stylings, purple lighting, and an almost upper crust yet approachable feel. After looking over the extensive menu and wanting to sample a bit of everything, I decided to go with something old (Shrimp Pad-Thai), something new (Glazed Lamb with Massaman Curry) and something fused (Thaiger Burger).
I was lucky that I ordered so much since while the food did come quite quickly to the table, the portions are a bit “Thai-Sized” and not the typical American portions that we are all accustomed to—better on the waistline I suppose. Though I have had lamb before, I never encountered it topped with Massaman curry. For those unware, Massaman is a southern Thai style curry with a coconut milk base and filled with onions, potatoes, and peanuts. While I was expecting to find the lamb just topped with the Massaman sauce, I was greatly surprised to find potatoes and onions and peanuts covering my chunks of lamb that made for a nice textural contrast. Overall, the lamb was cooked perfectly and when paired with the sweetness of the Massaman is truly a great combination that I hope to come back here for.
Like any good authentic Thai place, Nur Thai’s shrimp pad thai balanced sweet, spicy, bitter, and crunchy all together while ensuring that the dish itself was not goopy in peanut sauce like many Americanized Thai places like to do. A unique addition to this pad thai was the addition of chopped radishes on top that I have been told are a staple topping of pad thai when ordering this dish in Thailand.
Lastly came Nur Thai’s version of a Thai style burger; the Thaiger. A generous sized beef patty is topped in peanut sauce and served with lettuce, and some pickled onions and cucumbers for flavor and texture. When combined together, you get one tasty—albeit messy—dishes that easily straddles the line between Eastern flavors and Western delivery. Though I ordered my burger medium well, the beef itself was nicely charred and not dried out like some places who feel medium well is just an excuse to leave a piece of meat on the grill for 20 minutes and come back when it is all black.
To wash this feast all down, I decided to forgo the typical Thai Tea and instead tried Nur Thai’s unique mango mojito (nonalcoholic). Served in a mason jar, the mojito itself follows your standard mojito formula but adds in the addition of mango nectar to add a more tropical take on a drink that already reminds you of warm weather and the beach.
So while I might have originally dismissed Nur Thai as just another Queens “Asian-fusion” wannabe storefront, after indulging on their take of Thai food, I am glad to say that they won’t be fading into the background anytime soon.
63-32 Woodhaven Blvd
Queens, NY 11374
Phone: (718) 255-6141