In Thailand khao niew ping, sticky rice and banana wrapped in a banana leaf, then grilled, is an everyday if not commonplace street snack. At the counter of this Elmhurst grocery, the window of availability is much narrower: weekends only, from late morning until they sell out in early afternoon ($1.50). A similar timetable applies to what looks like sesame chicken (below, $5); it's actually sesame plantain. Both snacks are often available with a taro filling, too.
Previously: Given the choice between two varieties of fruit-in-ice (170 g., $3.25), my natural impulse was for a new flavor. Why go for the mangosteen, one more time, when I could try santal? A quick web search via iPhone revealed nothing about it.
I declined the shopkeeper's offer to hunt down a plastic spoon, and just as well: The cup's transparent seal was made of tough stuff. After the pull-tab and all available edges tore free, I finally punctured it with a metal spork (part of my regular field kit). But despite the spork and even after warming my purchase between two palms, I made frustratingly slow progress on the icebound (and unphotogenic) mass underneath, and I didn't fully appreciate the flavor.
That evening I belatedly recalled another near-encounter with santol, as it's more often spelled, years earlier. As it happens, one of the fruit's many other vernacular names is faux mangosteen.
Thai Thai (also known as NongNoi Thai Grocery)
76-13 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, Queens