Kitchen 79: Kua Kling Nuea Sub
It may not look like much (the photo certainly isn’t helping matters) or it may look like larb depending on your perspective, but that pile of ground meat in a plastic container is very much a something. It’s kua kling, a so- called dry curry from southern Thailand that I’d never noticed previously on the menu at Kitchen 79 and is relatively scarce in NYC. (Center Point has been known to serve it.) That’s reason enough to care.
This version, kua kling nuea sub, features irregular nubs of chopped beef, but chicken and pork are also available and all three are traditional. Lacking coconut milk, these curries aren’t sweet in the least so the aromatics like turmeric, lemongrass, and kaffir lime are all super pronounced (and though I’m certain Sichuan peppercorns are not an ingredient, there was a tingly undercurrent from something) with a rumble of heat from visibly pulverized red chiles and scattered inner seeds. It was spicy for a Thai dish ordered online with no particular heat specificity requested, though I’m pretty sure southern Thai curries on their home turf are punishing, which is what I wanted after a long weekend overdosing on Hudson Valley quaintness, but Kitchen 79 isn’t specifically a southern Thai restaurant and the clientele certainly isn’t either.
That said, be on the lookout for the yellow-tinged pile of meat masquerading as a curry. It’s a good dish to try when you’ve exhausted all the standards.
Kitchen 79 * 37-70 79th St., Jackson Heights, NY