While on a search for Thai boat noodle soup, Newsday food writer Andi Berlin discovered Tonnam Thai in Bohemia. Credit: Randee Daddona

Thai food may be the fastest growing restaurant category today in New York, where neighborhood Thai joints compete with trendy Thai diners, cocktail bars and Thai club-staurants. Fierce competition in New York City has led restaurant owners to expand and relocate to Long Island, where there's a new boom of trendy spots. 

The first achievement of a top Thai restaurant is serving a good curry puff with savory chicken filling and flaky dough. Then come heavy hitters like khao soi with crispy noodles that sit atop lush coconut curry. Sizzling skillets of shellfish studded with bundles of fresh green peppercorn test your tolerance for chile spice. But it wasn't until the discovery of Bangkok street foods in the Bohemia strip mall that it was clear — Thai food has reached a new level in suburbia. 

This pack of regional menus represent Chiang Mai and the Isan region in the north and northeast, central Bangkok cuisine, southern spice and even Thai/Chinese/Japanese/Burmese fusion. Some of the best restaurants are new, while others have been hidden gems for a couple years or more. The only constant is great curry, and maybe a crab omelet or a pad krapow to boot. Here are the best Thai restaurants on Long Island: 

Tonnam Thai Kitchen

1126 Smithtown Ave., Bohemia

Formerly a Chinese takeout, this gem serves Bangkok street foods adorned with edible flowers. Tonnam has attracted a stream of devoted regulars since it opened in 2022. It's an unlikely location for classically trained Bangkok chef Vorragun “Brian” Vongdarunee and his wife, Kasamaporn “Masi” Chansaksri, who previously owned a Thai restaurant in Astoria. But the two enjoy the natural beauty and calm of Suffolk County. And that beauty is reflected in dishes such as laab gai ($10), a tangy minced chicken salad teeming with fresh herbs and red onions. Get the boat noodle soup ($18). With its viscous black broth and tangle of vermicelli noodles scattered with chopped green onions, their rendition of the Bangkok specialty is unparalleled. More info: 914-829-2770, tonnamthaikitchen.com

Spicy curry crispy duck at Tonnam Thai Kitchen in Bohemia.

Spicy curry crispy duck at Tonnam Thai Kitchen in Bohemia. Credit: Randee Daddona

Tee' Thai Flavors

357 Broadway, Bethpage

Tom yum soup is the all-star of Thai cuisine, a dish so beloved it's served at pretty much any Thai restaurant. This version ($16.95) is bracing and devastatingly sour enough to elicit tears of happiness. Everything about it was perfect: The insanely juicy cubes of fatty pork belly that floated above the pungent broth, the ground meat, the vermicelli noodles, even the wonton crackers. And that's not the only star at this under-the-radar stunner, owned by Bangkok native Paul Saenngarm. The Thai sausage? So porky and juicy. And the Hainan chicken rice, known across Thailand as Khao Man Gai? Beautifully poached and delicate. More info: 516-513-1868, teethaiflavors.com

Sanook Thai 

96 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville

The newest and fiercest restaurant on this list, Sanook Thai will pummel you — if you let it — with heat and sour, fishy flavors. The uncompromising recipes come from chefs Dumrongsak “Pop” Chaichana and Sengdeuane Sisongksam, who hail from Northern Thailand and its eastern neighbor Laos. That means excellent khao soi noodle curry ($16.95), an icon of Chiang Mai that's achieved cult status in the U.S. There's also Laotian-style papaya salad ($17.95) that screams with padaek, a robust fermented fish sauce known for its thick body and explosive aroma. And grilled chicken ($20) is a sleeper hit. The legs and thighs have a sticky glaze that gives way to gloriously juicy meat. Rip off a hunk and eat it with the sticky rice from the little bamboo basket on the side. More info: 516-261-9778, instagram.com/sanook_thai_ny

Khao soi noodle curry at Sanook Thai in Hicksville.

Khao soi noodle curry at Sanook Thai in Hicksville. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Siam Emerald

88A N. Village Ave., Rockville Centre

The tea leaf salad is worth a double take. An iconic dish of Myanmar, what is it doing on the menu at a trendy Thai restaurant in Rockville Centre? Turns out, co-owner Kanlayanee “Sandy” Kosapattarapim and chef Sirikorn Chujit (who also work together at their Park Slope restaurant Bangkok Degree) aren't afraid to delve into Thai fusion. This version is more sweet than the original Burmese classic, but like all of the dishes here, it is beautiful. Especially the tuna flowers ($15), served on an elaborate golden stand holding little pastry cups of tuna dusted with makrut lime leaves and assertive chile spices. But most of the menu is dedicated to Bangkok street foods like ba-mee moo dang/moo grob ($25), an egg noodle dish that's a staple of the open-air markets of Thailand. The fried pork is the star, with its fatty center and crispy shattering skin. More info: 516-678-0886, siamemerald.com

The Theo Thai Bistro 

621 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage

Thailand is a majority Buddhist country, but some well-known dishes like massaman curry have Muslim origins. This influence is stronger in Southern Thailand, which borders Malaysia, but halal recipes are popular throughout the entire country and especially in Bangkok, where co-owner Thanida Nguyen hails from. In 2020, she teamed up with her Vietnamese-born husband, Khoa, to open this halal Thai restaurant, named after their son Theo. The menu here flirts between Thai standards and Vietnamese offerings such as pho and a banh mi sandwich (made with chicken). Their Thai chicken wings ($9) are assertively fried and healthily breaded, with a pleasing crunch. And the kitchen makes a fiery take on the popular pad gra prow ($15.95), or holy basil stir fry, with slices of chicken instead of the more common ground meat. More info: 516-490-9988, thetheothaibistro.com

Shrimp pad thai at Theo Thai Bistro in Bethpage.

Shrimp pad thai at Theo Thai Bistro in Bethpage. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

SriPraPhai

280 Hillside Ave., Williston Park

One visit is not enough to tackle the encyclopedic menu at the Long Island offshoot of this famed Woodside restaurant. Most dishes are unfamiliar — beef offal soup, chu-chee shrimp, sukee — so unless you have an intimate knowledge of Thai gastronomy, it's difficult to tell what you're supposed to order. But you won't go wrong with the stewed pork leg with mustard greens and a hard boiled egg ($14.50). The meat was so tender and soft in its sweet soy glaze. The fried watercress salad is iconic. Among the 37 appetizers, the “fried chicken & crabmeat rolls” ($14) are so meaty and crunchy on the outside that they could be legends on their own. More info: 516-280-3779, sripraphai.com

JaydSiri Thai Bistro 

23 S. Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck

A one-woman show, Sirikanya Suworrapan prepares a robust selection of Isan dishes at her chic bistro in Great Neck. Isan is a rural heartland of Thai cuisine, known for its spicy papaya salads and pungent minced pork larb. Stir fries of Isan steak in fragrant lemongrass, and duck basil kraprao are highlights of the house specials menu here. But don't sleep on the Thai Ocean ($28), a sizzling stir fry of ringed calamari, plump shrimp and crispy battered fish with onions and red bell pepper. The dish screamed with spice and sourness. The seafood was plump and bright, even a bit floral after being tossed with bundles of fresh green peppercorns, a hallmark of the best regional Thai restaurants. More info: 516-696-3654, jaydsirithaibistro.com

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