140 Jericho Tpke., Syosset
Adorned with majestic statues, flowing tapestries, a soothing waterfall and cultural artifacts basked in cascading light, hungry patrons wandering into Galangal, a Thai-Japanese restaurant tucked behind a bank off Jericho Turnpike in Syosset, might imagine they’ve stumbled upon some long-lost, forgotten Buddhist temple obscured within the ancient cavern of some Southeast Asian mountainside.
They would be partially right; for Galangal is, in many respects, a shrine to both cuisines—also offering tidbits from Vietnamese, Malaysian and Singaporean tradition.
Spacious, airy, low-lit and accentuated with said décor, Galangal exudes a relaxed ambiance, evokes a calming feeling hinting that yes, yes, you’ve done well and you deserve a great feast in a welcoming atmosphere. Come, please, sit down and enjoy. Let us take care of you. Your good karma has brought you here.
The staff is friendly—warm, hospitable. The prices are very reasonable. The food is, in many offerings, near-divine. I can state the previous sentences as noble truths, frankly, because I have kneecapped legions of Galangal’s dishes, fellow life sufferers. The portions are generous and the eats are soul-satisfying. And I’m Irish.
Ask me about the Chicken Pad Thai Lunch Special ($8), and I will describe to you how my powerful incisors and lightening-quick swallow reflexes devastate the large, moist heaps of peanut-crumbed noodles and mouth-size boulders of tender bird. (Not to mention the accompanying salad and bowl of Miso soup.)
Inquire of the fresh Sushi—typically I go with the Lunch Combo Two Rolls ($10) or Three Rolls ($13)—and I’ll speak of bright pink-and-green Salmon Avocado Rolls the size of half-dollars and seaweed-rice entombed Tuna Rolls the height of shot glasses. Whisper the word “Sashimi” and my heart will confide in you the sheer joy of hot pink, white-striped slabs of salmon, snow-white blocks of tuna and yellow tail slipping off the tip of my tongue, submerged in soy, moist, rich and filling, melting like oceanic puddles of melted butter upon my palate.
Yes, dear enlightenment-seekers. Galangal, though its literal meaning is a special Indonesian spice with culinary and medicinal uses, means nirvana in Lunchbox-Cooke-speak. And I eat what I speak (and vice-versa).
The Squid Pad See Ew Lunch Special ($9) is an Octopus’ Garden of thick, weighty marine cephalopods suspended within a dense, heavily wrapped fire tornado of succulent noodles coated and glistening beneath a sweet layer of brown sauce that also carries a subtle bite. The octopus—a highly intelligent creature (some believe, due to the size of its pineal gland, also spiritual and psychic) with three hearts—chewed well, its tentacles as tenacious as a New Orleans alligator. I gnawed and mouthed, swirled and munched; sort of like a liger cub masticating a zebra or an antelope—only this was a well-prepared invertebrate mollusk.
The fine, oily angel hair of the Chicken Singapore-Style Mai Fun Lunch Special ($8) envelopes myriad boulders of chicken and shreds of peppers, onions and greens, spinning like a monsoon on the stilts of my chopsticks, rolling like a windstorm through the endless valley of my gut. She is a mighty force, this atmospheric deliverance of pure, unrefined Asiatic glory. Traditionally I pair her fury with the stomach-rubbing massage of a Sushi Roll, on special occasions the meaty Eel Avocado Roll, a one-two-combo punch of fish flesh and smooth, oh so smooth, avo.
The path to liberation from hunger begins here at Galangal, fellow Dharma Bums. Ready your chopsticks, throw a wink to the heavens, and dig in.