Soup’s On: Plant Love House’s Keaw Teaw Num Tok
Keaw teaw num tok (not to be confused with the beef salad also called num/nam tok) is probably what all the non-Thai interlopers order (or not?) thanks to the recent glowing Hungry City write up that mentions it in the opening paragraph. It’s as good a place to start as any on the tightly edited menu, heavy on the noodle soups.
I don’t want to disparage the thenthuk from my last missive in this series, but num tok is its radical opposite: perfectly portioned so you don’t get stuffed and seasoned boldly so you don’t grow bored. Thin rice noodles, roughly five chopstick-pulls-worth, are more of an accent along with a handful of bean sprouts and still snappy Chinese broccoli. This $4.95 serving can be upsized for an additional $3, if you’d like.
The peppery broth, lightly perfumed with cinnamon and star anise is, yes, mixed with pork blood which isn’t remotely scary and lends none of that livery quality more noticeable in other blood-based edibles like morcilla or dinuguan. Pork is also featured in thin strips and a single pork ball.
I’m not sure if this was the medium I was recommended with the suggestion of doctoring using chile powder from the caddy if not to my standards or the spicier version I insisted I could handle. Either way, it was just hot enough, no enhancements needed. When my eyes started tearing up at one point I was glad I was on a stool facing the window so I could save face.
Being a cafe, and a cute, inviting one at that, desserts are also a selling point. Maybe next time. The pandan water, which was slightly sweet, overtly green and filled with ice cube globes I initially mistook for lychees (and nothing like the same-named beverage at Pok Pok) was a sufficient enough foil for the mouth-tingling soup.
Plant Love House * 86-08 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, NY