New restaurant brings authentic Thai cuisine to Flushing

New Thai restaurant, When in Bangkok, brings authentic cuisine to Flushing. (Photo by Olivia Hom)

Flushing‘s newest restaurant, When in Bangkok, offers authentic and delicious Thai food in an inviting, casual setting at 161-16 Northern Blvd. The restaurant was established in 2021, but opened earlier this year after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Olie Sangpetpairot, owner of When in Bangkok, was born in Thailand, but came to the U.S. as an exchange student when she was 17 years old. She also attended undergraduate and graduate school here.

While living in the U.S., Sangpetpairot began to miss the taste of her mother’s and grandmother’s cooking. Wanting to recreate the flavors that she grew up with, Sangpetpairot decided to open her own Thai restaurant. 

The name of the restaurant comes from staying true to Thai cooking, as Sangpetpairot says.

“If you go to Bangkok, this is the food you are going to get,” Sangpetpairot said. “So the menu is going to be a little bit different from more standard Thai restaurants. It’s a collection of the dishes that are popular in Thailand.” 

When in Bangkok is Sangpetpairot’s third restaurant, and as of right now, her only establishment in Queens. However, Sangpetpairot definitely sees herself opening more locations in the “World’s Borough” in the future. 

“I think people started to move out, they’re not stuck in Manhattan anymore … Queens is changing quite a lot,” Sangpetpairot said. “I think Queens is very interesting and [so are] the people here. It’s like my home.” 

She is also the owner of Malii Thai Kitchen and Malii Gramercy, both located in Manhattan. 

Sangpetpairot told QNS that she believes When in Bangkok stands out because of the distinct flavor profile of its dishes. 

A lot of people that open Thai restaurants are too afraid to add too much spice or the unique ingredients that Thai people really use because they’re afraid everybody isn’t used to them. So they cut down on so many things,” Sangpetpairot said. “I would say we dare to do that. I would like people to try it as we Thai people eat it. And I think New Yorkers, right now they are open to so many things. They like to try the real thing. They like to try unique things.” 

(Photo courtesy of When in Bangkok)

There are a range of exciting dishes and drinks to choose from. Sangpetpairot’s favorite dish is the pad thai bo ran, consisting of flavorful rice noodles in tamarind sauce, wrapped in an egg net and topped with jumbo prawns, which she says is also extremely popular among diners. Other standouts include the khao pad poo (crab fried rice in a house special spicy seafood sauce), the poo karee (sauteed soft-shell crab with a spicy curry sauce) and the tom yum soup served in a hot pot.

A popular dessert is Thai tea sizzling roti, which consists of toasted roti on a hot plate with Thai tea ice cream, cornflakes, marshmallows, whipped cream and drizzled in a Thai tea sauce.

Sangpetpairot also highlights the space as what makes When in Bangkok special. 

When diners first walk into the restaurant, they are greeted by a display featuring a sign with “When in Bangkok” written in white script on top of a bronze colored backdrop. To the right of the sign is a white chair with fake plants coiled around its frame. On the first floor, the seating is comfortable and minimalist. There is also a full bar that offers a variety of vibrant cocktails. 

On the second floor are arched windows that fill the room with natural light. According to Sangpetpairot, the feeling of the upstairs dining area is more relaxed. 

Sangpetpairot plans to add an outdoor dining space in the alleyway next door. The soon to be added space will resemble a garden. 

When in Bangkok is located at 161-16 Northern Blvd. in Flushing. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. 

For more information, visit wib-nyc.com.