2008_02_FoodSakusagai.jpgAt the Ethnic Market highlights international specialty foods and ingredients you're very unlikely to find at your local Gristedes.

The neighborhood surrounding the Elmhurst Avenue subway stop has been home to several excellent Thai eateries for years and new ones have been popping up lately. One worth mentioning is Sugar Club, a tiny Thai grocery/video store. If you have a hankering for curry pastes, palm juice or those scary looking little bottles of Thai Red Bull, then this is your place.

It’s also great for Thai cravings when you don’t have time for a full meal. On any given day, a variety of dishes, ranging from salads to curries, are on the counter. The curries reheat perfectly at home and the salads are ready to eat. And then there's the saku sai gai.

When you pop open the plastic container the six dumplings will be stuck together like a baby’s teething ring. They’re composed of tiny beads of tapioca that have been pressed together, but don’t be turned off by their stickiness. Each superball-sized morsel is filled with a tiny bit of ground chicken, peanut, turnip and a touch of sugar. Balance out this sweetness by chewing on one of the four chili peppers provided along with a bit of cilantro.

An e-mail to Eat Drink One Woman's Ganda reveals saku means tapioca, sai means stuffed and gai means chicken. She finds the more traditional saku sai moo (made with pork) a tad on the sweet side. According to the package, Sugar Club’s saku sai gai come from Arunee Thai in Astoria. Yet a call to the restaurant and a web version of its menu reveal no such dish; all the more reason to check out Sugar Club and its Thai goodies.

Sugar Club, 81-20 Broadway, Elmhurst, 718-565-9018