The new crop includes Thai Diva, a remarkable spot with an operatic name on a side street in Sunnyside. The interior is square and compact, with only four tables, but the décor explodes with color. A checkerboard of orange and gray squares spreads across one wall, as a sky-blue coffered ceiling draws the eye upward. With Isan food as the base, the menu draws its inspiration from all regions of Thailand, featuring many dishes rarely seen on Siamese menus.
Maybe you don’t know jack about jackfruit. Native to Southeast Asia and India, this football-shaped fruit is similar in appearance to a durian and the largest specimens can be humongous, growing up to three feet long and weighing up to 80 pounds. It’s the world’s largest fruit. Ripe, it’s sweet and sticky. When it's green, it's starchy and mellow, like a cross between a potato and a green plantain — perfect for use in rib-sticking curries and salads.
Green curry, tum kanoon, beef balls, and mummy shrimp
Another remarkable dish from northern Thailand – where the food shows Burmese and Chinese influences — is khanom jeen nam ngaio (see above $11), with a base something like American tomato soup laced with pork, into which an eater adds wads of white rice noodles, bean sprouts, and pickled mustard greens. With a squeeze of lime it's something like a mutant pho. The result is supremely delicious. It seems that every dish at Thai Diva features flavor and texture enhancers on the side, to be added at your discretion.
Recipes from the southern Thai peninsula show Malay and Indonesian influences, and the menu notably offers roti canai, an Indian-leaning flatbread with a creamy chicken curry. Japanese cuisine has influenced Thai cooking, too, especially in the central region and in Bangkok.Thus you won’t be surprised to find Japanese noodles on the menu, tossed with shrimp and bok choy in spicy u-don ($11).