Though fried with soy sauce and chili pepper, these grasshoppers ($10) are neither very salty nor very spicy. And whether you bolt the whole insect or bite it in half, there's no goo, only chew; the texture suggests underdone potato chips. But, however crispy they may look, pull off and discard the legs or else their tiny barbs, several of which caught on my fingertips, will make themselves felt in more-sensitive areas. As with many other addictive nibbles, multiple napkins are essential.
Also shown: red ant egg salad ($10). Essentially this is a larb; in addition to the hallmark roasted rice, it includes onion, shallot, mint, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili powder. The distinction is the unusual protein in place of larb's typical pork, chicken, or fish. Despite the name, the white bean-shaped objects are the larvae, and not the eggs, of a species of weaver ant. They pop gently in the mouth, like tiny grapes, but any flavor of their own is overwhelmed by the salad seasoning.
Grasshoppers, to be sure, can be foraged domestically if you're willing to put in the hours. Playground's insects, however, all come from Isan, the region of northeastern Thailand that was the previous home of the restaurant's husband-and-wife proprietors.
Playground Bar & Bistro
71-30 Roosevelt Ave. (71st-72nd Sts.), Jackson Heights, Queens