Plant Love House is the newest Thai restaurant in a neighborhood where they seem to cropping up faster and more frequently than ever before.
The Thai name, according to at least one Yelp review, is something more overtly romantic, or even, dare I say, sexual. I’d noticed PLH a few weekends ago, while strolling the hood. It opened in the crooked narrow storefront, on Whitney Avenue, formerly occupied by the Himalayan joint and, before that, two hand-pulled noodle and dumpling places. On that day, there appeared to be more actual plants in the window. Today, there was only one, a large standing potted number just inside the doorway. On the door are written several house rules, printed in block letters right on the glass, all stuff about loving and living in peace and harmony with one another. Okay by me.
The limited menu is printed on paper, with specials written in funky lettering on a blackboard. They did a nice job of decorating the place, and creating a nice, open space for dining. I remember it was much more cramped when Lao Bei Feng occupied this spot. Now it’s downright airy, bright, even flowery.
When I walked in, at around 1pm yesterday, the staff of four women were eating their lunch, and I was the only customer. I ordered the Nom Tok noodle soup, printed in English as “Pork Blood noodle soup.” They offer a small bowl for five bucks ($4.95), but you can pay three dollars more for the bigger portion, as I did. I also opted for a small bowl of pork cracklings, which cost an additional two dollars.
I’ve had my share of nom tok noodles soup, at several venues, and a lot of it has been good, damn good even. Pye Boat Noodle and Zabb Elee come to mind as places that do this dish well. Plant Love House’s bowl, though, might be the best I’ve had yet. It certainly was the spiciest - no contest there. The broth’s heat, in addition to lip and tongue- searing, also cleared my sinuses. I dared not reach for the condiments rack, and that's a first. To be honest, the heat was a notch or two above my comfort zone. But the overall flavor balance – sour, sweet, a tad savory – in addition to the spice, truly won out. Rounding out the proceedings were, of course, thin rice noodles, slices of pork, especially flavorful pork meatballs and a crunchy, green leafy vegetable. Add in those pork cracklings, and you have a party going into the wee hours. Once they hit that broth, I could actually hear them popping. The first thought that came to my mind was rice krispies with milk added, but then, reminded of that firey heat, I couldn’t help but wonder if the cracklings weren’t crying for help.
Overall, this is a first-rate noodles -in -soup dish, a terrific mix of full, balanced flavor and texture. The refreshing house-made longan juice cooled me down. Early Yelp reviews of this joint – there are about five right now – are positive; they talk as much or more about some of PLH’s dessert specials as they do about the main menu items.
Plant Love House has what I'd estimate to be about ten to fifteen menu items right now, centering on noodles and salads/yums. In keeping with a very positive and encouraging trend, they are emphasizing a few down-to-earth dishes over the types of mega-menus we've become accustomed to in more full-on restaurants. The chefs cook what they know, the staff is very nice and helpful, everybody's happy, and, needless to say, there's lots of love in the room.
I see myself returning here soon.
Credit where it's due. Joe D got here before me.
Here's his writeup:http://chopsticksandmarrow.com/2014/1...
As always, there's Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/plant-love-ho...
Plant Love House
86-08 Whitney Ave
New York, NY 11373