“This could certainly become a trend to compete with ramen,” BTaylor suggests on Chowhound. “This” would be boat noodles, a Thai street-food staple that suddenly has New Yorkers buzzing, after making its first stateside splash on the West Coast. Known back home as kuay tiew rua, it’s the signature specialty at just about two-month-old Pye Boat Noodle in Astoria, and Chowhounds say the newcomer’s version is right on target.
Originally hawked from small boats on the canals of central Thailand, until development and pollution forced the vendors to abandon ship, kuay tiew rua succeeds or fails on the strength of its broth, which is dark, complex, and powerfully flavored, traditionally with beef blood. Pye’s broth hits those notes, says BTaylor, who describes a soup that’s light in body yet has “a deep undertone of spices like star anise … different from anything in NYC.” It comes with beef or pork, one of four kinds of noodles, a few curls of fried pork skin, and a scattering of fresh herbs. Other appealing noodle options include yen ta fo, with squid, shrimp, and fish balls in chicken broth reddened by bean paste, and tom yum bolarn, a spicy, sour chicken broth loaded with minced pork, fish balls, and meatballs—”a really different and fine creature,” wewwew writes. Dial up the flavors as you like with chiles, fish sauce, lime, or sugar.
Pye also makes a handful of curries and stir-fries, served over rice and crowned with a fried egg, as well as a promising lineup of small plates, including light, crisp taro rolls; yum woon sen, a salad of glass noodles tossed with seafood, pork, and spicy lime dressing; and double-fried salted chicken wings that BTaylor calls “perfect little bar snacks.”
Pye Boat Noodle [Astoria]
35-13 Broadway (between 35th and 36th streets), Astoria, Queens
Photo by BTaylor