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Ubol's in Astoria?

  • j

Any recommendations for Ubol's Thai on Steinway? I will be going there Thursday night. I am going with a group of friends, so the more suggestions the better.

I tried to go there this weekend, but they were closed for renovations. Wound up at Kabob Kafe since everyone raves about it. It was was excellent.

I even tried going for lunch this past wednesday, not knowing that they are not open for lunch Wednesdays. Wound up at El Farolito (Argentine on Steinway), which was very good.

Basically I am looking for an alternative for Sripraphai for a while, since I have been eating there incredibly often lately.

I also plan on trying Arunee soon as well. I'll probably ask for recommendations for there soon.

Thanks

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  1. Years ago, when Ubol's was on Broadway at around 45th, it was the best Thai ever in NYC. Considerably better than Sripraphai; as good as some of the best on the west coast (for homestyle, not fancy, Thai).

    They went downhill considerably when they moved, and I lost interest, but there've been periodic reports that they are, if not as good as days of yore, still pretty good. I'm anxious to hear your report.

    It's been literally years since I've been, but I always ordered the simpler dishes. The curries, the chicken/galangal soup, barbecued beef, papaya salad, etc.

    ciao

    9 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Is it worth me bringing friends to Ubol's? Would Arunee be a better choice, or is there another good alternative to Sripraphai in Queens?

      Thanks for the help.

      Please include ordering suggestions for whichever place you recommend.

      1. re: Jayask

        I've always thought of Arunee as a nice, unexciting, neighborhood place, but Robert Sietsma gave it high marks in the Voice a couple of months ago. (Maybe I've been ordering the wrong things?) I've linked to his review below.

        What's the name of that other place in Astoria? Is it Aharn? I believe it's gotten some good mentions here. I haven't tried it. Maybe you can find the postings.

        Link: http://villagevoice.com/issues/0116/s...

        1. re: Helen

          Arunee is ok. I go there on Wends. nights when Sri is closed or if I'm in Jackson Heights. It's good, not great, but way better than 99.9% of the places in Manhattan. My 1 time @ Aharn on 36th Ave in Astoria was ok, nothing great. I'd give it another shot but it wouldn't be my 1st choice. Remember, @ Sri you can BYOB which is always a plus in my book (especially since I don't like any of the Asian beers) and I hear they now have seating out back in a patio!

          1. re: Ivan Stoler

            Went with a group of 5. Had two of the specials (soft shelled crabs, and lamb). Also had a shrimp dish (garlic), lard na, a salad, and crispy duck.

            The food was good, and the place has nice decor if you need a place for a date. The mango rice dessert (w/ rice shaped like a heart)was excellent.

            One of my friends had fried icecream, which they flambe at the table.

            The place doesn't compare to Sripraphai foodwise, but has good decor and variety, a liquor license, and good food.

        2. re: Jayask

          We last went to Ubol's in July 1998 for a birthday dinner. There were 6 of us and most of the food was OK, with a few very truly delicious items: a salad of ground pork and smoked eggplant; mee krob (the sweet and spicy crispy rice noodles); and roast duck in a gooey sauce that was very good in a retro 1950s cantonese kind of way.

          Dishes to avoid -- sate, any of the grilled meets, and the curries.

          Not nearly as good as Sripraphai (though I have a friend who has spent lots of time in Thailand and who loves it), but it is an acceptable choice, and the atmosphere is certainly more celebratory.

          1. re: Alan Divack

            The Panang curry is gorgeous. If you can possibly save room after appetizers and meal, get the sticky (sweet) rice with mango slices, simple, but unbelievably wonderful.

            1. re: Alan Divack

              Service was attentive but too "xeno-conscious." Bland, bland and more bland (chicken pad thai). Our waitress' curiosity with my non-Asian boyfriend's tolerance for spicy foods quite annoyed me as she continued to watch for a reaction--asking periodically if everything was alright, not spicy? The best was when she insisted on refilling his glass with water..."just in case it is too hot" when he affirmed that the dish was not spicy at all.

              1. re: ES

                I'm getting angry just reading about it.

                Did you try the usual chowhound gambits? "I've lived in Thailand"? "Don't tell the chef I'm not Thai?"

                etc, etc?

                BTW, we are developing a clever product that will help with this problem. Stay tuned!

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Interested to hear more on said product To answer your "Did you...?," No neither he nor I wanted to have to chowhound our way out of her overwhelming and razor edge attentiveness. And I thought I had good peripheral...a sip of water and it he was up for a refill. Tired of Thai anyway...taking advantage of a freebie @ Rock Center tonight.

        3. I only recently heard of Ubols when I got a free copy of Zagats. We took a 15 minute walk over and we thought it was excellent (Mee Krob, Green Curry, heart attack deep fried spare ribs in peanut sauce). Went there 2 days later for lunch with my parents, also very, very good, the pad thai was absolutely the best I had ever tasted.

          Fast forward 2 weeks later. Friday night, same as first trip -- but this time later and very crowded. The food was AWFUL. Incredibly bad. Fish cakes almost made me hurl (but I've never had that before, I will never order again anywhere). green curry was greasy bland. Pad Thai lame. POLAR OPPOSITE experience.

          My theory is that it was a different cook and/or they couldn't handle the traffic.

          But we tried it again -- also on a friday evening but early (5:30). It was excellent again.

          Maybe take a peek in the window and see how crowded it is before you walk in.

          1 Reply
          1. re: steve

            "But we tried it again -- also on a friday evening but early (5:30). It was excellent again"

            There's your evidence. The good chef--as could be expected--IS there on Fridays, it seems (of course, he might have had an emergency the previous friday, leaving, like, the dishwasher in charge). Since the only difference the second Friday was that you'd beat the crowds, I think your "can't handle the traffic" explanation is correct.

            I'd go there some fri or sat at like 4:30 in the afternoon. There'll be the first string staff, lots of provisions in stock, and utter serenity. That should give 'em their best shot. And, as corollary, NEVER go at prime time. Not worth the chance.