Bottomless Brunch Means Bottomless Khao Tom at Noods n’ Chill

Bottomless Brunch Means Bottomless Khao Tom at Noods n’ Chill


“Bottomless brunch” has never been an institution that promised particularly inspired food. For many, the phrase inspires fear rather than an appetite. But at Noods n’ Chill, a Thai restaurant that opened in December in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the bottomless vessel in question is not a pitcher of booze but rather a generous caldron of khao tom, a rice porridge.

This is the newest outpost from the team behind Plant Love House, which opened in Elmhurst, Queens, in 2014 and has since expanded to Prospect Heights and Kensington, Brooklyn. (The original location closed in 2015.) The restaurant grew out of a series of casual backyard lunches hosted by the sisters Benjaporn Chua and Preawpun Sutipayakul; the recipes came from their mother, Manadsanan Sutipayakul, whose homey Thai dishes have created a small empire.

The dinner menu at Noods is a collection of greatest hits from the family’s previous Brooklyn menus: guay tiao num tok, the Thai boat noodle soup whose pork blood-fortified broth tastes like what you’d get if you infused a pig with star anise; the bits of pork knuckle simmered until they slouch like a surly teen.

Noods offers a wide selection of vegetarian dishes — mostly because that’s the way the family likes to eat, Ms. Chua said, but she has also noticed an uptick in vegetarian customers at this new location. That includes mock duck as an option for its curries and noodle dishes, an enormous win for anyone enamored of the spongelike way that really good mock duck absorbs sauce, bursting with flavor and promise like a rum-soaked raisin.

On weekends, starting at 11:30 a.m., there is porridge. It comes with two or four toppings, which are more like side dishes to be spooned or forked, bite by bite, into a bowl of rice that’s been cooked until soft and broken. The porridge stretches each small dish and also mutates it, serving as both quiet backdrop and alchemical medium.

The menu of toppings celebrates preserved and pickled things, ingredients that have long turned pantries into lands of plenty. Sweet preserved radish, which gets caramel-like depth from palm sugar, is stir-fried with garlic and served with an egg’s worth of omelet, and turns earthy and subtle when spread into the blanket of softened rice. A bristling, savory plate of salted duck egg dressed up with lime and fish sauce becomes a seasoning for the porridge — which, in turn, quiets a bit of the egg’s funk.

Ms. Sutipayakul learned to make porridge from her parents, who fled China for Thailand in the 1940s and relied on the dish to turn small amounts of rice into enough food to feed a large family. Growing up in Bangkok, she made the porridge her parents craved, and topped it with the Thai dishes she loved. She later carried on the tradition for her daughters.

Noods is a small space that relies on self-service and a large takeout operation: The kitchen is roughly three times the size of the seating area, which can accommodate about 15 people as long as they are happy rubbing elbows. The cozy setting encourages sharing, as it’s far easier to reach your friend’s plate when it’s right under your nose.

That’s good news for brunchgoers, and any daytime meal here should include a few of the menu’s snacks. A slice of brioche can arrive griddled into submission, smeared with sweet chili paste and covered edge to edge in a forest of salty pork floss; or steamed and ready to be pulled apart, paired with a pot of pandan-coconut custard that glows an extraterrestrial green. Lavishly flaky roti can be dipped in either condensed milk or a vibrant chicken curry.

You may be wondering about the name, and the dazzling pink neon sign in the window that reads, “Noods … yes! You? Maybe …”

Noods is a cheeky homonym that doubles as a promise of noodle dishes like pad Thai and pad see ew; the “chill” part made more sense, Ms. Chua said with a laugh, when they were planning on serving kava, a nonalcoholic drink that originated in the Pacific islands and has a relaxing, slightly intoxicating effect. They’re still entertaining the idea, but don’t currently serve it.

For now, Ms. Chua and her family are just enjoying the newness of the brunch menu, she said. “We get to have some fun, and a little bit of the childhood memories.”

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