The Incredible Adventures of Gourmet Gal

Monday, July 31, 2006


370 West 52nd St.
Between 8th & 9th Ave

Everyone cheats sometimes, right?

There is no denying that my burger heart belongs to “The Burger Joint” in The Park Meridien Hotel. But the slutty appetite of mine just can’t help but itching to go to the new “Luckys Famous” branch near my job in mid-town. Now, any place that advertises themselves as “The Best …” was, well, to use Triumph The Insult Comic Dog‘s mantra, “ For me to Poop On!”. But it did intrigue my interest. So I set my foot into this orange & yellow-gone-wild little dive with great expectation and suspicion. The blond “dude” behind the register looked like he hasn’t acted since “Point Break”. I went simple.


The guy flipped his shoulder-length hair and took the whopping $14. Hey, how come he didn’t ask me how I would like my burger to be done? SUSPICION #1! The young Latin cook peeked his head out to examine the size of my “girls”. I tried to avoid his stare by studying the menu on the wall. CHEDDAR BURGER EGG ROLL?! Okay, this could just be the beginning of a disaster. I started to pray that no one spit nor violated my food.

My order arrived shortly. The burger was layered with chopped white onions, sliced pickles, lettuce, tomato, and mustard. SUSPICION #2!!! Who decided to put all these bells and whistles on my burger?! What were they trying to hide?! I took a tentative bite. The patty was thinner and greasier than I thought, but surprising, QUITE TASTY! With all the what should-we-call-it added on, it actually created the theme-park flavor that would sure to please any kids (real and grown-ups).

The fries were the thick-cut, crinkly kind. They turned out to be crunchy on the outside and melting from the inside. Not bad. I tried dipping them into the “Lucky sauce”, which tasted like Thousand Island Dressing, except the person fell asleep while adding mayonnaise. Bad idea. The “hot sauce” was much better. With hints of hot pepper mixed with ketch-up and mayo, it tangoed seductively with the fries in my mouth.

I took a gulp of the thick vanilla shake. It went down smoothly but tasted a tad too sweet to my liking. I took a deep breath and started to relax and enjoy the food. Seeing the next table of five kids quieted down once they bit into their burgers, I made a mental notice to bring my lovin’ hubby here next time. He would like it. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a much more sophisticated version of the McDonalds? And I might just go wild and order the cheddar burger egg roll!

But I still would not call it “the best burger on earth.”

Friday, July 21, 2006


So we finally made it to the place. Even before our asses hit the chairs, my loving' hubby J glanced at the menu in supersonic speed and proclaimed confidently, 'I'll have the chicken wings and sweet & sour pork'.


It must be the heat, I thought to myself. So I casually rolled up the menu and struck him in the head, also in super sonic speed. He reacted like an abused puppy. As the kind-faced owner emerged from the kitchen, I quickly reached over and rubbed J’s head lovingly while flashing the owner a ‘We are so totally ready to order' smile.

'Hi, I‘ll…I mean, we'll have
Som Tum (Thai papaya salad with peanut & chili)
Tom Yum Koong (Clear shrimp soup in spicy lime juice, lemon grass, mushroom &chili)
Kang Sub Nok (Fish paste with eggplant in coconut curry paste)
Pad Thai (Sautéed rice noodles with shrimp, bean sprouts, egg, scallion and ground peanut)
Sticky rice
One Thai ice tea and one, what would you like to drink, honey?'

J muttered some artificially flavored beverage and quieted down.

The meal went wonderfully.

'Som Yum' arrived with thinly julienne green papaya laced in spicy dressing on top of piles of iceberg lettuce. The presentation needed some work, but the intense sweet & sour flavor and aromatic fish sauce woke up one's taste buds like a lover stroking your nipples. My eyes beamed. I kicked off the flip flops and searched for J’s legs underneath the table.

'Tom Yum Koong' turned out to be a bit of a let down. I was hoping for a savory broth with freshly crunchy shrimp. Instead, it was an over sour pot of spicy water with some dead shrimp in it.

'Kang Sub Nok' was a surprise hit. The 'fish paste' stated in the menu turned out to be home-made fish balls. They were deeply flavored with a hint of fresh ocean breeze. Floating happily with chunks of Chinese eggplant in hot green curry sauce, the dish made a perfect companion to the nice chewy sticky rice. It was so flavorful that I could not stop kicking J’s shin with each bite I took.

'Pad Thai' was J’s favorite and, surprise, surprise ... Mine, too. These were not the usual limp, suicidal rice noodles you get from other so-called Thai restaurants. They were deeply committed, full of life noodles that literally bounced off the plates and conversed with you like a high-spirited evangelist. The balance of hot, sweet, sour, and salty has truly attained enlightment in this dish. We polished every little bit from the plate and wanted more.

As I sipped my creamy dense Thai ice tea and chatted with the owner who came to deliver the check. I found out that the chef is the owner’s mother-in law and she is from the River Kwai region of Thailand.

'Country people, you know, they like strong flavor', the owner said almost apologetically. I shook my head vigorously, 'No, no, I mean, yes, the food was great. I loved it!' J nodded in agreement, now fully approved of this experience. The owner smiled, like he’s heard this a hundred times before.

As we strolled contently towards the subway, I announced in my professional food critic voice, 'You know what, Thai food is supposed to be intensely flavored. Otherwise, what's the freakin' point of eating them?' J patted her hand lovingly and said, 'That’s right, honey. So, can I get the chicken wings next time?'

Oh, the battle ...

83-18 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373
Open 7 days!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Boon Chu Thai Place
83-18 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373

After a whole week of tossing, turning, and chewing her loved-one's ears off (literally), GOURMET GAL (GG) is finally 1,440 minutes away from getting her tongue back on that orgasmic shrimp pad Thai again. Now GG grew up in Asia and lives in NYC for the past ten years, so she's no stranger to all kinds of boot-legged and authentic Thai food. But last week, GOURMET GAL had the ultimate high on discovering a 20x30 Thai dive in Elmhurst, Queens. THIS PLACE IS NO JOKE!! GG seriously thought about breaking into the kitchen Jackie Chan style and hugging the shit out of the chef. Their food was even better than Planet Thai (rated number 1 Thai food in NYC by Zagat) when it was just a charming gem for the locals! But like we all know, love at first bite does not always promise happily ever after. So the best way of confirming this passion is to DO IT AGAIN & AGAIN & AGAIN! OH YES! YES! So until GG hooks up with her meatloaf-mashed potato-grape soda-loving hubby at the restaurant.
Keep your taste buds active --- GOURMET GAL'S REVIEW COMING SOON!!