Thai Noodle-Wrapped Meatballs Make Other Meatballs Seem Like Slackers

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Imagine a good old Italian-American meatball wrapped in spaghetti or linguine like a mummy, tossed into the deep fryer until the pasta turns crisp, then served — why not? — with a little marinara sauce on the side. That is not unlike the idea of moo (pork) sarong (to wrap), on display at the new Thai restaurant, Wayla, where the meatballs are of the mini variety, each one wound up in a single wheat noodle. A basket of six comes with a sweet sambal for dipping, and if you think this sounds like the newfangled work of a young gastropreneur hoping to hit the big time at Smorgasburg, you would be wrong. According to chef Tom Naumsuwan, moo sarong is an ancient snack once reserved for the aristocracy, and you don’t see the dish in New York because it ain’t easy. In fact, Naumsuwan says it takes three minutes to make and wrap one moo sarong. Only two nimble-fingered kitchen staffers so far are up to the painstaking task, producing 240 of these little mouthwaterers every day. That’s a whopping 84 hours on moo-sarong duty per week, if you’re keeping score. Aside from its scarcity, there’s another reason Naumsuwan put the dish on his menu: His wife, Lalita, is a big fan of the Thai television series Bupphesanniwat (Love Destiny), set in 17th-century Siam, on which moo sarong made a much-talked-about scene-stealing cameo appearance. “She made me make it for her,” says the chef. “And now it’s one of her favorite dishes.”

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On the menu at Wayla; $7; 100 Forsyth St., nr. Grand St.; 212-206-2500

*A version of this article appears in the June 10, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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