Sometimes a “vegan” key word search in Yelp turns up a tucked away vegan option, one that might otherwise fly under the radar. After reading from a Yelper that Thai Chef Cuisine had a separate vegan menu, we made a b-line to the city I grew up in: North Merrick.
The unassuming take-out counter looked like a Chinese take-out spot, like one of the millions Long Island had to offer. Except this was not Chinese. It was real Thai: authentic Thai offerings, pictures of the King on the wall, food and drink offering to Buddha… and a friendly Thai man who knew what vegan meant. Besides the 100% vegan menu, they had a board of vegan specials. I ordered excitedly, pleased that when I confirmed that the dishes did not contain fish sauce, the affirmation had a hint of “Yeah lady, I do know what vegan means.”
I sampled plenty of dishes: Below is the fried papaya salad, served with a sweet sauce with plenty of crushed peanut. Thais know texture and flavor balance! Though this was a lot of fried-ness to eat, it was delicious.
The summer rolls were very scrumptious, a good balance to the fried papaya salad. I would have preferred more vermicelli noodles over bean sprouts. The leaves of basil and the coating of thick tamarind sauce–perfect.
And my favorite Thai street food, the deep-fried corn fritters, were, as usual, a yummy bite of salty and crisp with bursts of corn sweetness. The breading wasn’t as crispy as I’ve had elsewhere. But these fritters are easy pleasers.
And yay, vegan pad thai! Without the worry of fish sauce. This dish was loaded with tasty tofu. It had all the texture pieces that make pad thai so wonderful, save for the crushed peanut. I did miss it. Next time I’d ask for it.
Last but not least, the mango and sweet sticky rice. I love this dessert and, besides the mango not being super ripe, it was just like the real thing I enjoyed so often in Thailand.
Thai Chef Cuisine is an amazing find! I look forward to supporting them, especially in light of their vegan friendliness.