Astoria Thai - Benjamas
We had dinner at Benjamas - Taste of Thai (34-16 Broadway Tel: 718-932-8826) last night and were very pleasantly surprised by the menu, decor and service.
We ordered the summer roll and it was exceptionally fresh and the tamarind dipping sauce it was served with was spicy and not too sweet. It was a perfect compliment to the roll's mint and basil. Also had the Som Tum salad of shredded green papaya, with chili, tomatoes, long beans, shrimps, peanuts, lime juice and sticky rice crouton. It was the freshest and best papaya salad I have ever had. The ingredients were blended very well and the salad was not too spicy or too sweet. Selected one of the Chef Chai specials as an entree. It was the Thai Herbs Tiger Shrimp that were huge grilled shrimp (probably prawns) that were stuffed with herbs, bay scallops, crab meat and served with a spicy garlic sauce. The presentation on all the dishes was very appealing but this dish was a knockout. It came out on a huge square plate with the shrimps being butterflied and stuffed with the heads and tails still attached served atop a bed of sautéed vegetables and fried noodles. My husband and I were not sure if we would like the food so we shared everything.
The restaurant is decorated in a very colorful style with touches of Thai flare like decorative pillows and statues. The waiters were very attentive and polite. We mentioned how pleased we were with the food, quality of ingredients and plating. It is what we would expect at a more expensive restaurant. The owner overheard and came over to speak with us and explained that she and her husband worked at the famous Benjamas Restaurant in Thailand and had developed their plating and cooking skills there. It clearly showed in our selections that these folks are way ahead of the other restaurants in Astoria that are just serving Pad Thai mounded on a plate.
We often would go to Williamsburg to Chai, Amarin, Sea or Planet Thailand for our fill of Thai food but are thrilled that this is right in our backyard. I urge you to try this place as you will not be disappointed.
WoW, i find your review very surprising- because I ate there on friday evening and it was hands down some of the worst thai food I"ve ever had. It was even worse than Thai Angel on 30th Ave, and that place is pretty crummy. First off, for starters we had calamari and chicken satay. The calamari were simultaneoulsy soggy and burnt. The chicken was a dry breast stuck on a stick, rubbed with some sort of spices that gave it a bright yellow color but little flavor.Our entrees were equally dismal, I had a chicken w/ ginger stir fry that featured dry, overcooked to the point of no return meat with some greasy veggies and a scant few pieces of ginger.My friend's shrimp was overcooked as well and super garlicky, that was all you could taste! We quickly paid and left, never to return.( we went to Coldstone Creamery next door to fill our bellies!) Please, if you want good thai food in the Astoria/LIC area, go to Tuk Tuk on Vernon Blvd near the 7 train. It's worth the trip!!!