Monday, January 26, 2015


Immigrants bring various talents to the United States.  Sharing them is as art.  Metta Haskel shares her experience of being back home in her Thailand kitchen as you become her new family.  That is what you will encounter at Thai Rock, located on Beach 92nd Street in Rockaway Beach.   The menu features Metta’s recipes while her sister, Karog is the head chef. Her husband, Robert runs the rest.

Thailand art decorates the walls of this rustic looking eatery.   Dark wood teak furniture is brightened by the lighting, just enough to see your food and dining partners during the dinner hours.  Winter weather does not allow you to take advantage of the deck as it lends a view to Jamaica Bay and nearby Cross Bay Veteran Memorial Bridge.   

It is one of those cold and blustering evenings that I dined there both for the food and weekend entertainment. They were featuring the William Humprey Quartet described as being a “contemporary jazz quartet from arrangements using today’s songbook, with a concentration of music from the 70s, they perform songs by Lorde, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, John Mayer, Bob Marley, James Taylor, Disclosure and much more.”  The Quartet featured William Humphrey on saxes, Mike Jett on drums, Adrian Untermeyer on keys, and Dave Pellagrino on bass.  Sounded good to me, but it’s the cuisine that really counts.

Since the first question asked is about what we wanted to drink, I noticed that they had a homemade honey ginger tea (served hot).  This is not made using a tea bag and when you get closer to the bottom, more hot water is offered to replenish.  

We consulted our much knowledgeable waitress, Gabriele Mangango for suggestions. As it turns out, Gabriele works with Rockaway Theatre taking on the choreography for the children’s workshops as well as their shows.   Next one is Suessical The Musical Junior composed of the kids vs. the teens who will be doing Legally Blonde.  But, I stray….

Kin Lenn is Thai for appetizers and there were certainly enough to choose from.  My friend, Deveka was joining me.  Nothing can be too spicy for her.  After some extra descriptions, I ordered the Thai dumplings, the crepes being filled with peanuts and turnip.  Different and tasty.  

I do not tend to eat curry as I do not appreciate cumin.  Aha!  Thailand curry doesn’t use cumin.  I’ll take a chance and choose the Roti and Massaman Curry friend bread with massaman curry dipping sauce.  We both loved the texture of the bread.  I checked another part of the menu that features curry dishes and the massaman is described as having potato, red onion, peanuts and bay leaves in a dried chili coconut sauce.  It was milder than I expected and wondered if they sold a pint of it “to go.” 

I know that Tom Yum soup is spicy.  Once I get passed the chili, I can appreciate the rest. Not all Tom Yum soups are of the exact recipe at every Thai restaurant.  This was hot and sour with mushrooms, galangal, bell peppers, lemongrass and scallions.  I personally found it to be quite salty, though.  

With Pad Thai being one of my favorite staples, I opted for one with chicken.  In case you’ve never had it…stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, scallion, black tofu and peanuts in a sweet fish sauce.  Quite good. 

Over to the part of the menu that read, “Ped and Pla” for a special entrée.  It was the whole deep fried snapper that Deveka and I both agreed upon.  With a number of sauces to choose from we compromised on the Thai Basil Sauce.  I loved the texture of the fish that was so perfectly cooked giving way to eating even the tail as if it were fish chips.  The snapper itself was meaty, juicy and not “fishy” tasting. 

Full as we were, I just had to try this dessert called Thai Custard, another homemade item with taro or pumpkin and coconut accompanied with sweet coconut sticky rice.  The rice itself would make for a great dessert.  We both highly recommend. 

As for the band, they were certainly my cup of honey, ginger tea.  

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