Khao Nom (NYC)

A journey to the east to Thai desserts.

Our experience

Last year, we made it our mission to seek out lesser known dessert spots in NYC.  We traipsed through a store specializing in milky tres leches cake, to two focusing on tofu pudding, a cafe offering a small selection of Filipino desserts, another with an array of sweet baked baos, two Georgian dessert spots, and then two hole-in-the-wall gems respectively baking Japanese cheese tarts and Portuguese custard tarts.  More recently, we ventured further afield to Elmhurst in the borough of Queens to seek out Khao Nom, a little local secret for its Thai desserts.

Khao Nom is a fabulous idea for a quick casual lunch or dinner spot, and an even more fabulous idea for afternoon tea.  Upon entering, one quickly becomes enchanted with the long wooden counter upon which are stacked plastic containers holding a variety of Thai desserts for $5 a box.  It takes a great deal of self-restraint to not buy the whole dessert counter. 😛  Our favourite dessert that we sampled from Khao Nom has to be the “Khanom Tokyo.”  These soft pancake rolls reminded us very much of “Apom Balik” in Malaysia.  By contrast, Khao Nom had switched out the crushed peanuts for swirls of pandan cream.  On the day of our visit, there were also translucent, flower-shaped bouncy kuih-like cakes.  These were fragranced with lavender, mint and other herbaceous tones.  There were also steamed turnip cubes, pumpkin and banana puddings, glass cones of corn tapioca, and golden mung bean biscuits.  We bypassed these however as our attention was more captured by the bowls of rainbow glass vermicelli noodle and vibrantly-hued pandan tapioca droplets (aka “cendol”/”lod chong“) immersed in gula melaka and coconut milk.

Our verdict

As we have said before (see here, here, here), South-East Asian cuisine (and certainly desserts) is rather under-represented in NYC.  Sadly, NY city dwellers seem more fascinated with French pastries, Japanese desserts and five thousand iterations of bubble tea than desserts from the other 192 countries in the world.  Our trip to Queens was akin to a trip to South-East Asia; we discovered a glorious array of South-East Asian desserts, and we cannot wait to return to Khao Nom and others to discover more!  Keep an eye out for forthcoming reviews of desserts from this area of New York!

Dessert adventure checklist

  1. ☑ Dessert destination: Khao Nom, 42-06 77th St, Queens.
  2. ☑ Budget: $-$$.
  3. ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Thai desserts.
  4. ☑ Must-eat: Pandan pancake rolls.
  5. ☑ The short and sweet story: A journey to the east to Thai desserts.


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