Since I (sort of) moved out of Queens, I’ve been really missing all the international cuisine on offer there. Last week, I spontaneously joined my mom and brother for lunch at my brother’s current favorite Thai restaurant – Dek Sen in Elmhurst – and let him do all the ordering, since he’s super familiar with the menu – he goes there at least once a week.
First up was tom yum with noodles. Because of my coconut allergy, I tend to avoid Thai soups and curries as a lot of them have coconut (or look like they do). After being assured this contained no coconut, I was pleasantly surprised by how sour and yet balanced this dish was. The noodles were springy and the fish balls pleasantly bouncy as well. I wasn’t a fan of the slices of liver scattered throughout the soup, nor seemingly my brother (who can’t eat them due to health reasons) or my mother (who had a few but then said that was enough for her). If I ordered again, I would ask them to leave those out.
Next came the crispy duck salad – filled with crispy hunks of duck meat, apples and crisp lettuce, dressed with a vinegary punch, this was another great dish. It carried a bit of heat with it, but nothing unbearable for the spice wuss that I am. I’ve had this dish at other places and enjoyed it – sometimes it has pineapple, which I think adds a lovely complexity to the dish – but this one, while great, wasn’t above-and-beyond great. Solidly tasty, would order again, but not extraordinary.
Personally, I’m partial towards noodle dishes in general – and this time was no exception. The pad see ew pictured here wasn’t spicy thankfully, but was charred in all the right ways, slightly sweet and perfectly cooked. The pork and Chinese broccoli were mere background players to the noodles; I loved how pliant and flavorful each noodle was. As I said – I love noodles, and this dish really called my name.
The larb moo was ever so slightly too spicy for me, but very flavorful and my mom and bro enjoyed it greatly. I did eat a couple of heaping spoonfuls, but I know better than to burn my tastebuds out – lest I can’t taste any of the rest of the food.
Zabb wings had a slight punch of heat, but were crisp, meaty and super tasty. I’d love to have a big bowl of these for eating during the game – any game. I’m in withdrawal from sports right now (I’m all baseball and football). The spice grew on itself and built over time until I was sweating slightly, but since there were 6 wings and 3 of us, 2 wings put me just at the edge of my spice-tolerance, without ever pushing me over the edge. So good- Dek Sen really knows how to balance sour, spicy, salty and sweet flavors, and the sour shines through in these wings while still maintaining balance.
Pad kee mao came with a big dose of heat, almost unbearable for me but was so good I couldn’t help but keep eating. Again, perfect char on the noodles, flavorful, soft, and wonderful. I don’t know that I could eat more than a few bites at a time before sweating profusely, but I enjoyed it nonetheless – and would definitely risk discomfort to order these again. Finally, because we happened to be there on their official 1st birthday- 1 year to the day after they opened! – they gave us a slice of chocolate cake on the house. Light and airy – I’m not sure if they made this themselves, but it was a not too sweet, just-right end to our meal. I know, a lot of food for 3 people, but… we had some leftovers! I swear we did…
I can definitely see why my brother likes this little mom-n-pop (or aunt-and-nephew) shop as much as he does. Quaint, cozy, very cute, with effusively friendly and happy service, I was very happy with everything we ate (even the stuff that was too spicy for me), and with the service. Prices were reasonable/in range of what you’d expect. I definitely recommend giving this place a try if you’re in the area – it’s just a block from the subway M/R at Elmhurst Ave.
86-08 Whitney Ave
Queens, NY 11373
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