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The Stunning Duck Penang Curry at Ayada Thai in Elmhurst

Me and my friend Dave have been working through local Thai restaurants, trying to contrast and compare them. A "Thaifecta" if you will. There's been nothing particularly noteworthy to report thus far...until tonight.

We hit Ayada Thai (77-08 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, NY), which I'd not previously tried. The rap on this place is that it's good-not-great, and that salads and soups are better than entrees.

Aw, contraire.

The Penang curry with duck was 1. the best duck dish I've had in a long, long time, and 2. one of the best thai dishes I've had in a long, long time. It's nearly impossible to describe something this good (the analytic mind breaks down above a certain quality level (see http://jimleff.info/eating-by-the-num... ). It's a huge, generous hunk of boneless, skinless, fatless cut-up duck, absurdly crisp and sizzly in places and juicy/meaty in others, sitting atop an orange, unctuous, deep-flavored Penang curry sauce. You must try it. You will try it. You: TRY IT!

Drunken noodles with beef were merely excellent. No match for the duck.

Som tum had a lusciousness to it, and was addictive. We also had some tom-zap, which was thin, sour, and incendiary (we ordered it Thai spicy). Pumpkin custard was good, and obviously homemade. Nothing matches the duck. I shall forever dream of the duck.

Here's the other piece of new info: the good stuff (shrimp paste fried rice, black egg in basil sauce, frog leg) is all on the paper takeout menu only. Spurn the laminated in-restaurant menus, which mostly list gringo-friendly items.

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Ayada
77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

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  1. I've been wanting to try Ayada for awhile and you've convinced me. Definitely will be swinging by for lunch soon.

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    Ayada
    77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

    1. try their green mango salad too, as an alternative to the green papaya. very different salad.

      1. jim....that link took me to some post from 2005. can you repost your full link?

        1 Reply
        1. re: redgirl

          Hi! Wasn't a post; was an article I wrote, relevant today, better explaining my observation that at a very high grade of hyperdeliciousness the ability to analyze breaks down. On the scale discussed in that article, the duck penang curry was about a 9.5 out of 10.

        2. thanks for the tip, ill definitely check this out. my fav thai dish is the green curry duck in Sripraphai. not sure how it compares but green curry and penang curry are probably different beasts.

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          SriPraPhai
          64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

          1. check out ambala. then check it out again.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jeffsayyes

              After a couple tries at Ambala, it seems to range from mediocre to OK, actually. It's fine as a steam table take-out joint for someone in the neighborhood, but I wouldn't recommend it as a destination. Maybe you can specify which dishes you really liked. I think you can get comparable fare at any of the other places nearby. For better takeout options, check out the Thai counter inside the Hong Kong market in Elmhurst.

              1. re: E Eto

                "...check out the Thai counter inside the Hong Kong market in Elmhurst"
                That would be Mukda, the small counter near the entrance on the left. They are - or at least were - associated with Rumphool in Woodside.
                P.

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                Rumphool
                57-17 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11377

                1. re: Polecat

                  ya just saw Mukda for the first time recently. like a mini Sugar Club.

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                  Sugar Club
                  81-20 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

                2. re: E Eto

                  no, it's not a destination. i love it b/c i live 3 blocks away. i like the pumpkin stuff, the sour stuff, the samosas, the soup is outstanding, and whatever I'm like: what is that???