By Merle Exit
Metta Kaskel shares her experience of being back home in her Thailand kitchen as you become part of her new family. That’s the vibe you get at Thai Rock, located at 375 Beach 92nd St. in Rockaway Beach.
The menu features Kaskel’s recipes while her sister, Karog, is the head chef. Metta’s husband Robert runs the rest of the business.
Thai art decorates the walls of this rustic looking eatery. Dark wood teak furniture is brightened by the lighting, just enough to see your food and dining partners during the dinner hours. Warmer weather allows you to take advantage of dining on the deck, as it lends a romantic sunset view on Jamaica Bay and nearby Cross Bay Veteran Memorial Bridge.
Having opened in 2011, Thai Rock went through many renovations after Hurricane Sandy, which led to a spot on the television program “Restaurant Redemptions” in 2015. Its new deck includes enough tables to dine outside and a separate bar from the indoor dining.
The restaurant features the opportunity for people to rent jet skis, kayaks and paddle boards that include tours. Weekends bring a music-filled atmosphere, with various bands ranging from blues and jazz to pop and a bit of country.
But the success of a restaurant could not be achieved if it weren’t for the food.
“Kin Lenn” is Thai for appetizers and there were certainly enough to choose from. I had already sampled and enjoyed the Thai dumplings featured at the Queens Food Festival, where these crepes are filled with peanuts and turnip.
With a love for chicken wings, I delved into one of the most delicious tasting and addictive appetizers, covered with white sesame seeds. I’m sorry that I had to share them. Everyone else applauded me for doing so. Don’t waste the lettuce that it rests on. Fold and indulge.
The mango salad, consisting of julienne mango, red onions, pineapple, scallions, cashews, tomato and green apple in a fresh chili, garlic and lime dressing was quite refreshing and there was just enough chili spice to hit the palate.
Having other people with me is great, as I was able to taste the Roti and Massaman Curry fried bread with massaman curry dipping sauce. I checked another part of the menu that features curry dishes and the massaman is described as having potato, red onion, peanuts and bay leaves in a dried chili coconut sauce. It was milder than I expected and wondered if they sold a pint of it “to go.”
Although the menu seems vast and difficult to choose from, the “to go” menu might be easier to explore the entrees, as one heading reads, “Curry, Noodles, Fried Rice and Saute.” Choose from chicken, pork, tofu, veggies or vegetarian duck, for instance, at a price of $15 and continue with the lists of ingredients. The higher end of the $30 price will get you scallops, half a roasted duck or a seafood combination. f you see a chili pepper insignia it warns, “Beware, Thai Curries are Spicy!”
Instead of my usual Pad Thai, I opted for a chicken Pad See-Ew of stir fried wide rice noodles with broccoli, Chinese broccoli in a dark sweet soy sauce (mild and no chili).
My friend went for a shrimp saute of pad pink khing, which had string beans, ground peanuts and kaffir lime leaf in a dried chili sauce and served with jasmine rice. He loved it but it was too hot for me.
My friend’s 11-year-old son, Alex, opted for the chicken nuggets over the Thai Rock Potato Fries as an app. The nuggets certainly did not taste like the fast food ilk and came with broccoli and carrots as well. As an entrée, shrimp pad mee caught his eye having stir-fried angel hair noodles, and more broccoli and carrots. That’s not to say that he didn’t waste time in tasting everyone else’s dish.
I had glanced over to the abutting table to view what will be my next adventure when I return. Ped and pla features a half duck with a choice of sauces that include mango salad. I inquired as to the liking and was told that the duck comes out juicy and with a deliciously crispy skin. Now that, with the mango salad, would be a perfect combination for me.
The dessert menu looked quite appealing, including a homemade Thai custard with taro or pumpkin and coconut accompanied with sweet sticky rice; banana and cream cheese wrapped and deep fried drizzled with honey and topped with whipped cream; and roti, a thin fried bread rolled with sweetened condensed milk and sugar and sliced.
It is important to keep in mind that everything is served fresh to order. That means that patience will pay off when your taste buds finally get rewarded.
Thai Rock is open every day from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on weekends. For reservations, call (718) 945-5111.