I had been warned that Boualouang, a Thai and Laos eatery in Chinatown, was tiny, but I wasn’t prepared for a space that likely wasn’t ever meant to be a restaurant. Dickson and I intentionally planned a late meal, and arrived at Boualouang at 1pm in an attempt to avoid the lunch rush, and were lucky enough to snag the last of six tables.
As our table was nudged right up against the door, we were both thankful that it wasn’t –30 outside – as it stands, their heating bill must be astronomical. Of course, having seen evidence of a larger storefront about two blocks down 97th Street, I was assured Boualouang would be relocating soon (perhaps April?), and given the number of parties the waitress had to turn away during our stay, I’m sure the move isn’t soon enough.
Dickson in Boualouang (yes, the restaurant is just three tables deep)
I had heard from others that their curries were a must-try, so decided on the Gaeng-Kiew-Vahn, a green curry and coconut milk with mushrooms, green peppers, sweet basil and chicken ($12.95), and upgraded the steamed rice accompaniment to coconut rice for an additional $1.50. We also had to try our benchmark Thai dish – the pad thai with shrimp ($13.95).
From the pace that the dishes were being delivered to the other tables, we knew we were in for a wait. Given the size of the dining room, we could only guess the size of the kitchen. A half hour after putting in our order, our green curry arrived. It was definitely worth the wait – the heat was balanced perfectly with the tang provided by the kaffir leaves, and the chicken was meltingly tender. Paired with the richness of coconut rice, we would have easily given up the pad thai for a second helping of curry.
Green Curry with Chicken
The pad thai was presented in a nice reflective bowl lined with lettuce and garnished with orange slices. Both of us were surprised at how deep the dish was, but could have done without the slight pool of grease at the bottom of it. I liked the use of a broader noodle than most Thai eateries, and neither of us had anything negative to say about the pad thai as a whole, except that it didn’t wow us like its curry predecessor.
Though we made it back out through the doors a little later than we had planned, uncovering another gem was well worth it. I will be back to give the rest of the curries a try.
10669 97 Street
Monday – Saturday 11am-9pm