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Thai Bar Brings Stuffed Animal Lamp and Tom Yum Cocktails to Elmhurst

By Katie Honan | December 2, 2013 8:21am
 Pata Patlean opened last March and is, according to an owner, the first Thai bar in New York City.
Thai Bar Puts Drinks First, Food Second
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ELMHURST — A lamp decorated with stuffed toys. Vintage Furbies. An old pinball machine. An ornate, handmade gate at the front welcoming patrons.

These funky design elements may seem at home in a vintage store, but they're all part of the decor at a quaint Thai bar in Elmhurst, the first of its kind in the city, the owners said.

A group of friends who met while working at a Thai restaurant in Queens have teamed up to create Pata Paplean, featuring a little piece of Thailand and cocktails inspired by popular dishes.

Naratip Klinsrisuk, 31, is one of five owners of the bar, which is nestled between a Thai coffee shop and a Thai grocer on Woodside Avenue in Elmhurst.

Klinsrisuk, who's been in Queens for five years, said he, three friends and his sister dreamed up the bar last March. They all worked at Playground restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue, and learned a lot about running a business there.

Their goal, Klinsrisuk said, was to create a hip gathering spot for Thai immigrants like themselves.

He said that while New York City "has a lot of Thai restaurants, there aren't a lot of Thai bars."

"Why don't we have a small bar to meet Thai people?" he said. "People say my bar is the first actual Thai bar in New York."

The name, he says, combines two things potential bar-goers from Thailand might recognize.

Pata is named for a department store in Bangkok with a gorilla on the roof and a zoo on two floors.

And Patlean loosely translates to "let's have some fun," in Thai, Klinsrisuk said.

The bar's design was spearheaded by Pop Assawamahasakda, 33, another partner who received a degree in design from the Pratt Institute and has designed other restaurants around the city.

He created the ornate entrance gate, the intricate mural behind the bar, and decorated the space from his collection of vintage items, including Furbies and a tabletop Coca-Cola pinball machine.

Most of the bar's interior was handmade from reclaimed wood, including the bookshelves lining the walls and the monochrome mural behind the bar.

Assawamahasakda also made two large lamps, one with plastic orbs around it and the other, which is covered in stuffed toys — inspiration borrowed from Lady Gaga.

The lamp is constantly being added to, the owners said, with toys they win from a claw game outside the grocery next door as well as contributions from patrons.

The two most popular drinks on the menu are inspired by Thai food— tom yum soup and mango sticky rice.

The tom yum soup cocktail mashes kefir lime leaves, lime juice, sugar, salt and lychee purée with vodka, topped with a red chile, and offers a playful twist on the popular soup.

The tiny kitchen in the back cooks up small plates, but Klinsrisuk says most people stop in after eating — or working — at any of the local Thai restaurants.

While the bar may have opened with Thai immigrants in mind, he said it's become a popular place for all of their diverse neighbors.

"At first, we thought only Thai people would come," he said. "But people from all around the world came. We didn't expect that."

Pata Paplean, 76-21 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst. Open seven days a week, 7 p.m. - 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 p.m. - 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.