New Thai in Woodside (EGB)
EGB is a new "Thai & American" restaurant, just east of the 52nd St station (7 train).
I stopped in today to grab the menu. The place looks nice enough, but the menu is very scary. Along with the expected Thai dishes, they have a too-broad hodgepodge selection from other cuisines. While this usually means that most dishes are prepared poorly, I'm hoping that at least the Thai dishes might be good (I'm not holding my breath though).
Everyone knows the usual Thai dishes to expect. Here's what I didn't expect (despite the "& American"): Chili con carne, tabouleh, Cobb salad, Tuscan salad, a large selection of burgers and kai-yang (chicken breast sandwiches) in flavors such as "OJ simpsons", "Pope" and "Da vinci". Oh boy.
Based on the number of items on the menu alone, I would guess their specialty is the burger (they have 34!). But I am rather hoping that they excel at the handful of Thai salads (larb).
Northside of Roosevelt Ave, near 54th St
I finally managed to try this place out. Overall, it has a good deal of potential, but it's not quite there yet. The setting is clean, if a bit of the generic modern Thai restaurant look stuck in the late 90s. Like almost every Thai restaurant in NY, they also have a TV on the wall.
The tom kha soup ($3 for small) was quite quite flavorful, though a bit unbalanced. It was heavy on the fish sauce and galangal, a bit lacking on the lemongrass, but perfect on the chili pepper. There was also a very subtle sweet undertone which I did not like. Included were some barely cooked button mushrooms floating in the broth and 2 nice-sized shrimp.
A while ago, I'd discovered that the owner was from Issan. Unfortunately, there are not many Issan-only specialties present. We gave the larb with pork a try ($7). Everything in it was fresh, but again it was imbalanced. The dominant flavor was of the very good toasted rice, but the dish lacked the sour and searing heat of a good larb. I asked for some lime and the spicy condiment tray. Applying some chili powder and lime juice elevated the larb to very good. But one should not have to resort to such measures, though (or especially since) it is such a simple fix.
I was in the mod for noodle soup so I got one with duck and wide fat noodles ($6.50). The pieces of duck meat with skin and the noodles were good, but were not helped much by the lackluster broth. It tasted one-dimensional, lacking the flavor of duck, and once again tasting sweet, though this time it wasn't very subtle. I'd asked for it Thai spicy, but there was no detectable heat. Adding some fresh chilis in vinegar from the condiment tray helped to mask some of the sweetness and added some much needed spice.
Perhaps the dishes were sweetened and dumbed down since I'm not Thai. Or the chef doesn't know how these dishes are really supposed to taste. Since they seem to be willing to make changes (such as drastically changing the menu and the restaurant name), Hopefully they can just start cooking some authentic Thai food. It also wouldn't hurt if they looked at their competition and learned to specialize their menu a bit. Having said that, it's probably not bad for a local delivery option right now, since the prices are decent and the ingredients are fresh.
I don't know what the deal is with three new Thai restaurants opening in Woodside in the past couple months (UThai, EGB and I Am Thai on 43rd avenue and 49th Street). I hope at least one of them survives. But for takeout we've long been fans of the Thai Malay Cafe on 52nd and Skillman and would hate to see them go.
We went to EGB a few weeks ago and I had the Thailand Burger: a burger with peanut sauce. It was very good.
New Thai openings are spreading to Astoria. I was in Astoria today and noticed a fairly new one called Benjamas Taste of Thai at 3416 Broadway. Another one is under construction a block away at 33rd St. I may visit Benjamas for lunch next week. Lunch is $7 which includes both salad and soup and is served until 4PM. The Salmon Chu Chee Curry is $9.
As I passed by EGB today (I have not eaten there), I noticed a different menu posted on the window. Thankfully, the entire roster of burgers was missing, and replaced by a good looking roster of Thai dishes. They didn't have a takeout menu, so I have no details to offer.
walked by and stopped in today, got a delivery menu. They have some desserts apparently from the same supplier as sripraphai. The woman was incredibly friendly. Googling Kai Yang has piqued my interest. Will probably order some Thai soon to check it out. Opening a Thai place in this part of Queens has to be tough.
That reminds me of a place on 31st Street in Manhattan called "Joey Thai", Joey was running a Blimpies sandwich shop and decided to start serving some Thai home cooking, then put burgers and chicken sandwiches back on the menu, and eventually took them off again. His curries were perfectly acceptable, I would get them for take out from time to time.
But with all the good Thai in Queens I doubt I'd bother going there assuming the ceiling for this place is the level of Joey Thai.
What great timing to introduce a new "OJ Simpson Chicken Sandwich", huh?