We returned to Kway Tiow in Elmhurts last night for the first time since Christmas eve, and with much trepidation, based on the postings of a few months ago. (For a link to this thread, see below.) The meal was not bad. The two dishes that we had were old favorites, both from the specials menu, rather than from the new glossy picture menu. Although both were good, we had serious reservations with each.
First, the "fried red snapper filet toped with mango salad." The salad was as we remembered: shreds of green mango, chilies, lime juice, fish sauce, and cashews, and celery leaves rather than cilntro, which is actually quite nice in this dish once you get over the association with mediocre Thai restaurants in the years before cilantro was readily available. The problem wsa with the fish. In the version that we remembered, it was a small portion of fried snapper, whose character added a lot to the dish. Last night, it was LOTS of chunks of perfectly fried but otherwise completely tastless fish, with sort of sawdusty texture. (I guess perfectly fried may have been overcooked, though the crust was light and not at all burned.) It seemed like whiting to me -- apologies to all the whiting fans out there, but it did absolutely nothing for the dish.
The other dish we had was the crispy pork with chinese broccoli. The problem here was the pork. Where we had remembered thin pieces of tried out fresh bacon-ish stuff, this dish had much larger chunks of a not-so-good roast pork, which were then overcooked to make them crispy almost to the point of inedibility. We found ourselved pushing the pork over to the side. However, we would actually order the dish again because the veg was so good. Instead of the austere garlic and fish sauce that we had remembered, it was stir-fried with fermented yellow beans and dried red and fresh green chilis. The sauce was gravy-like but not cornstarchy, and delicious.
The biggest dissappoinment was that they did not have mangoes in sticky rice (mangoes were not yet good , the waiter said) which they used to do better than anyone else, and we couldn't console ourselves with durian ice cream since they had run out at lunch time. This was what had drawn us into Elmhurst after a movie in New Hyde Park, and we were bitterly disappointed.
Would we go back again? Qualified yes. It is sort of an extension of the principle that not all dishes at a restaurant have to be good (or all recipes in a cookbook) to make it worthwhile. I guess even not all parts of a dish have to be good for it to be worth eating. Sripraphai is still far and away my first choice for Thai, as it has been for several years, but for a bite after a movie, Kway Tiow may be an acceptable choice. and maybe over the summer they will have mangoes in sticky rice again.