Queen Mother Cafe: Ping Gai Heaven
My friend and I have been having lunch at Queen Mother Cafe for years now. The ritual remains the same each time, as does our order: Ping Gai. The interior is fairly dark so we usually opt for a table near the window. Not surprisingly, there are lots of Queen Mum pics around, including the ladies' restroom (can't speak for the men's since I've never been, sorry).
But back to the Ping Gai. For $11.95, you get a tender boneless chicken marinated with garlic, coriander and black peppercorns, grilled crispy and served with a spicy lime and coriander dipping sauce, salad and steamed rice.
From time to time I'll be adventurous and try one of the daily specials. One of my favourites, when it's available: the Seafood Hot Pot ($11.95) -- scallops, shrimp and calamari simmered in a spicy green curry and coconut sauce with cauliflower, green beans, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and basil, served with steamed jasmine rice.
All the soups I've had at the Queen Mother Cafe have also been excellent, and I'm often tempted by the Sticky Rice steamed in a straw basket with a peanut sauce dip ($5.25). The menu has plenty of interesting options for vegetarians, like their Khao Soy Gai, a traditional northern Laotian dish of chicken simmered in a spicy broth of ginger, fresh Thai herbs, turmeric, curry and coconut milk, served on a bed of soft thin egg noodles, fresh bean sprouts, watercress, garnished with mint, shallots, marinated bok choy and fresh coriander (10.95). Just reading those ingredients makes my mouth water. Especially turmeric. There's something about the word turmeric...
Another popular vegetarian dish: The Queen Mother Cosmic Burger (high protein vegetarian patty), which has been on the menu for over 25 years (!). I've never had it, but how can anything with that kind of name NOT be good?
I sometimes go through the pretense of looking through the menu but inevitably am drawn back to the Ping Gai. Try it before you mock me. If you feel compelled to check out the menu in advance, you can find their lunch menu and dinner menu online. The dinner menu is more expensive; the ping gai costs $16.50 instead of $11.95, for instance. There's also a brunch menu available.
Patio seating available. Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am, Sun 12:00pm-12:00am.