I recently got word that Nur Thai opened in Rego Park. After looking at their website the menu items caught my attention as they did not all appear to be the common food served at your average Thai restaurant. Owned by longtime friends Jashim Ullah and Razib Hasan, Nur Thai maintains Halal food laws. It means that there is no pork or pork products as well as how the animal is slain. What it means to the customers is that the food is really fresh, nothing is frozen.
Just getting totally fresh food at any restaurant is a bit difficult. I’m off to 63-32 Woodhaven Blvd. to sample the bill of fare and meet the owners. I sit down with Razib who tells me about how and where they shop at least three times a week.
He had mentioned my name to the Executive Chef, who told him that he knew me from about 30 years ago. “He was sent from God”, Razib said. Chef “Charlie” as I had called him, owned a restaurant in Woodhaven called Noodles and Ribs. It was one of my faves. In fact I asked him to cater my bat mitzvah (I was 38 at the time) reception at the synagogue. Just no pork or shellfish. Charlie came out from the kitchen with total recall. I knew at this point that the food was going to be outrageously delicious.
The appetizer list had Phuket Sampler and yes, people pronounce it incorrectly. It’s “foo-kay”. It will now be my favorite “hidden” curse word. Mix of: Spring rolls (stuffed with veggies, glass noodles, taro and mushrooms) served with a sweet chili sauce; Chicken Curry Puffs (mint seasoned chicken with potatoes, onions, green peas, and carrot with yellow curry) served with cucumber vinaigrette; Shrimp rolls (marinated shrimp wrapped in rice paper and deep fried); and Thai Dumplings (minced chicken, water chestnuts, coriander) served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Can get it steamed or fried.
Let me also say that I am not a fan of spicy food but can tolerate a certain chili that hits the back of my throat and then allows me to taste the morsels without downing a glass of milk. To be safe, rather than my usual Tom-Yum soup, I opted for the Tom-Kha of shrimp in a coconut soup with mushrooms.
Pad Thai is another test of Thai. Stir fried rice noodles with eggs, tofu, chopped radish, bean sprouts, scallions and ground peanuts. Had it with shrimp. Charlie adds some secret ingredients that makes it taste even better than the ones I have sampled at other Thai restaurants.
On to the entrée list. Chicken was my protein choice, Fresh Ginger my sauce. Stir fry with onions, scallions, bell peppers, mushroom and of course, the fresh ginger. One curry that is most tolerable for my palate – Massaman Curry. Onions, potatoes (not chunks) peanuts and coconut milk. Yes, there is a kick of spicy.
I have passed up the jasmine rice served with any of the dishes to save room for more. Okay, I have to take a quick break, reheat some leftovers and satiate my palate. I’m back. I had Thaiger, one of the Nur specialties. It’s a beef burger made from sirloin. Charlie won’t tell me what spices are in it but I can assure you, you’ll love it! One half of the burger sits on peanut sauce. The other half of the bun has cucumbers, red onions and tomato. Really meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. Burger has an almost consistency of a steak. This is the burger that Charlie served.
I love duck, especially when it’s fresh. That’s right, they do not get it either frozen or pre packed parts. “Nur Thai gets their whole fresh ducks from Madani Halal Poultry in Queens,” said Jashim. “Then the chef prepares the ducks in his special 5 spices blended broth. After the duck is cooked, then the duck is deboned and fried to the order. This well prepared duck is offered in three different flavoring, Rama Duck, Duck Basil and Duck Tamarind.”
I opted for the two non-spicy. Duck Tamarind is crispy marinated with tamarind sauce served with
a side of sauteed veggies while Rama Duck has the crispy marinated duck tossed with peanut sauce
on a bed of steamed bok choy. Both are served with jasmine rice.
I went back to try a few dishes. Larb.Calamari. Duck Salad
I’m glad that I skipped the jasmine rice to have Mango Sticky Rice for dessert. Sweet coconut rice with mangos. Great satisfying dessert considering that I’m a chocoholic. Oh yeah, I had two glasses of Thai Iced Tea with my meal.
I was curious as to what some of the customers thought. Jeanne and Milana came in for take-out but said that they had dined inside prior. “I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and service,” Jeanne remarked. “This place blows all the other Thai restaurants away!”
Another customer doing take-out seems to be stopping in a few times a week. She told me that she wasn’t sure as to why, but that the food tasted better than the Thai restaurants that she had gone to. I told her that the food is fresh. “Oh”, she said, “That’s what must be making a difference”. I mentioned the duck. I think that was one of the items she chose. She spent a lot of talking time with Jashim. Me, I’ll be going back for more. 718-255-6141. www.nurthai.com