Khao soi noodle curry at Sanook Thai in Hicksville.

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

When Northern Thai sausage is on the menu, it's a great sign you've found a restaurant that goes beyond your typical Thai American food. (Which is undeniably delicious, but easy to find across Long Island.) The new Sanook Thai is a different story altogether: Its sausage is like something you'd only see in a glossy travel cookbook, an aromatic powerhouse of lemongrass and lime leaves, chicken parts and sticky rice encased in a thick skin that's practically caramelized in sugar. Each slice demands to be eaten with the crunchy raw cabbage, because you need something fresh to counterbalance all this funk.

It's quickly apparent that the sausage ($11.95) is just one of the many fierce dishes coming out of this tiny Hicksville kitchen. Set in the former home of Chada Thai Bistro, Sanook is run by partners Dumrongsak "Pop” Chaichana and Sengdeuane Sisongksam, who hail from the northern Chiang Mai area and Thailand's eastern neighbor Laos, which is known for its intensely flavorful dishes. The two worked together at Chao Thai, the highly regarded Elmhurst restaurant owned by Chaichana's mother, and opened their first restaurant together in Hicksville in January. To get the restaurant off the ground, they've been working the kitchen together seven days a week.

While their menu contains familiar classics such as Massaman curry and pad Thai, they also serve hard-to-find dishes like stewed beef noodle soup, crab fried rice and two varieties of Laotian pho. Lovers of the Northern Thai noodle curry khao soi will be happy to know that Sanook Thai makes one of the best versions we've tasted, and we've been eating a lot. The creamy coconut curry ($16.95) is thicker and deeper in flavor because it is made from scratch, encasing a bundle of juicy chicken and thick, curly egg noodles that contrast with the crunchy fried egg noodles on top.

Papaya salad is listed twice on the menu, and only by looking at the price and list of ingredients can you tell the difference between the two. The second papaya salad ($17.95), which the server cautiously recommended, was full throttle chile and fishy flavor, shattering expectations of what a salad should be. Sisongksam prepares the salad in her Laotian style, slicking the strips of pounded papaya with padaek, a robust fermented fish sauce known for its thick gray body and explosive aroma. The Isan restaurant JaydSiri Thai Bistro in Great Neck also serves this pungent salad, but Sanook's is even more dramatic, with raw baby eggplants and a deep red liquid that screams, "Spicy!” (with a capital S). 

If you're feeling intrigued but perhaps a little intimidated, fear not; Sanook also serves a dish that pretty much any meat eater can love. The restaurant makes one of the best plates of grilled barbecue chicken imaginable. It's not listed on the menu, but you'll see pictures of it online and the server may remind you. Get the chicken ($20). It takes 25 to 30 minutes (in the air fryer), and therefore worth calling ahead for, because when it comes out, it's carnal. The legs and thigh pieces are marinated for an entire day and have a sticky glaze to them, which 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. Even if you don't dip it in the silver ramekin of salty fish sauce, there's enough flavor for days. 

Chaichana is determined to bring unrestrained Thai flavors to Long Island, recounting a story about a customer who complained that the recipes didn't taste authentic enough. So Chaichana prepared a plate of his seafood stir fry pad cha ($21.95) with green young peppers, and the customer could barely eat it because everything was too spicy. This made him happy.

"That's real Thai,” he said.

Sanook Thai, 96 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville, 516-261-9778. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

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