4. Little Indonesia and Little Thailand in Elmhurst, Queens
Elmhurst may be most commonly referred to as one of Queens’ Little Chinatowns, with dozens of Chinese eateries scattered along or near Broadway. Elmhurst is commonly considered the second-largest epicenter of Chinese life in Queens outside of Flushing. However, nestled between the area’s Chinese eateries are two small ethnic enclaves: Little Thailand and Little Indonesia. Just last year, New York officially recognized “Little Thailand” as the stretch between 76th and 79th Streets on Woodside Avenue. One of the newer spots in the neighborhood is Saranrom, a Michelin Bib Gourmet restaurant offering authentic dishes like bone-in catfish with a spicy paste, crispy mussel pancakes, many variants of papaya salad, and basil minced beef. Ayada Thai is a classic family-owned restaurant with another location at Chelsea Market known for duck panang curry and its many noodle dishes. Eim Khao Mun Kai is known for its poached chicken, while Khao Kang serves up rice with two or three entrees from its buffet table.
Though small, Elmhurst also houses an unofficial Little Indonesia near Queens Boulevard. Many Indonesians from different ethnic groups came to New York in the late 1990s due to religious and ethnic conflicts at the end of Suharto’s reign. The Indonesian population is said to be around 5,000 in New York City, with another few thousand on Long Island and in New Jersey. One of the first Indonesian stores to open for the neighborhood’s residents is Indo Java, a small grocery that once a week serves up dishes like beef meatballs with noodles, salted squid with jalapenos, and beef rendang in a coconut stew. Sky Cafe is another popular Indonesian spot known for classics like nasi goreng, a rice dish with various meats and vegetables, and fried chicken with shrimp paste and tamarind soup. Other notable restaurants include Awang Kitchen and Asian Taste 86. Elmhurst has also put on a weekly Indonesian Food Bazaar featuring all sorts of Indonesian classics from a variety of vendors.