Riding the V Line: Thai Heat and Genius on Elmhurst Avenue

We're riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way.

It’s not much of a secret anymore, but it would be madness to get off at Elmhurst Avenue and not eat at Chao Thai, a Thai restaurant nearly as good as Woodside’s legendary Sripraphai.

The tiny, bright-green place teems with Thai families, and the satellite TV that is omnipresent in Queens ethnic restaurants seems to always be showing some Thai version of Tony Orlando and Dawn. But the food! Chiles sing and shine from every dish, like spotlights hitting the twirling dancers in the Cirque du Soleil; every dish is a spectacle. Moo dad, a kind of hot pork jerky, gets you going in one direction, and then crispy pork in prik khing curry, a dish of fried pork belly pieces with Kaffir limes and mint, in another, more supple, one. We have to differ from our buddy Peter Meehan, who seems to think that the green beans are the star of the show. Please! Such disagreements are unavoidable, and actually a lot of fun: There are so many dishes here, so strongly flavored and so unfamiliar, that you can talk about it all the way back to your home, on the long ride on the V train.

Chao Thai, 8503 Whitney Ave., at Broadway, Elmhurst; 718-424-4999.