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Sep 3, 2013 10:22 AM

Ayada was good. Thai, not exactly...

Thai, not exactly...but the servers and the dude doing up the cocktails seemed Thai. I am sure I could find Thai servers at TGI Fridays, and it would not make that place Thai.

Asian, yes. The noodle dish was splendid.

I had wide noodle with cuts of squid. It was delicious, but sent to the table minus the 'extra-hot' I our party requested.

True Thai red pepper from Thailand was brought to the table, and this finely ground almost power, with the pepper's seeds, made the dish complete, and flavored as it might be in Thailand.

Fried fish did not please all, and for the price, it could have been beer.

I had Chang beer, in spite of recommendations against this brand in favor of others on offer a Ayada.

If I return I shall try curries. I am currious about their curries.

For the spice consolidation or conglomerate I expect from places that eat hot spicy food on a regular basis, I prefer the less done up, almost hole in the wall Nepal place near the train station in the same area.

(Nepal) Tawa Roti, 3738 72nd Street, Jackson Heights.

Ayada failed to bring me Thailand cuisine, but it did serve for some of what I had, tasty food.

I actually recommend them for Thai experience, simply due to the fact that many of these Thai places have not hot pepper. In one, I had to witness a bus staff, go to the front door and pick chilli peppers off an ornamental chilli plant they had by the front door. They then took the picked peppers and cut them up in the kitchen, before bringing them to my table. Ayada can provide for that Thai hot, even if the kitchen does not quite get it hot as one expects.

There was not the presence of a sweet sugar taste that many pseudo-sham-bogus-Thai places have in their foods. A star for that.

They have Lao Beer, as well as the Thai popular ones. A colleague accompanying me to this place, was very displeased with the mojito. I stated that in Asia the history of cocktails is short and concentrated within commodified colonialism (tourism that is). It is perhaps not the place for a mojito. That is like expecting a Russian venue stocking a good selection of tequila.

In the end, i was forgivable. My counterpart at the dining table, was less so, though having spent considerable time in Thailand, more than myself, he is perhaps qualified.

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  1. Im confused what was not Thai about this food, except for your colleague's mojito and your chinese beer? Please clarify.

    15 Replies
      1. re: Peter Cuce

        No that was not it.

        When I say 'please make it exceptionally hot and spicy' and it comes to the table the way it did, it tastes not different (the dishes we had) than Filipino food.

        Of course I would go to Ayada before Jollibee.

        1. re: Peter Cuce

          I suppose there is a tiered aspect to those dining Thai.

          There may be a formula to finding authentic places.

        2. re: jen kalb

          I simply mean, for (due to ) the dishes that we had, if I were at a venue and I was blind folded, and put to the test to describe what style of food the venue states it serves, I would not exactly say Thai.

          The dishes were wide noodle with squid, and the garlic fried fish recommended by ABC or NBC or was it Ted Turner?

          For my friend, he did not exactly like the place. I would not order a mojito in such a place. If it were a Thai owned dance club, I am sure the mojito would have been properly made. It is a Thai restaurant, some chinese white wine would have been more pleasing. Needless, such white wine opens the taste buds.

          The curries I have to try. They are Thai.

          Thus stated. The pepper brought to the table was 100% Thailand ground red pepper. That is the first in a Thai place in NYC, at least. The pepper was not Korea ground red pepper, nor one of the many differing kinds used in the Chinese world. It was not Japanese S and B Ichimi Togarashi Chilli. For that (the 100% authentic thai chilli powder), I got the dose of intensity I was expecting with the food, though I added that, as opposed to having the kitchen do it up in the fashion it may be done in Thailand.

          1. re: jen kalb

            I am still wondering where the Thai people eat, when they go out.

            Ayada does serve a market, and they do a far much better job in that market than the sham places that dot NYC, and actually the entire nation.

            I have spoken to an older Thai woman, and she only stated that Ayada is good, because they had network TV visit and state so. She has never eaten there. I am certain she cooks at home for the Thai experience.

            A Thai waitress at a bogus-sham-Thai restaurant last year gave me a suggestion, for real Thai food.

            She stated Playground Authentic Thai Cuisine, Elmhurst. Been by this.

            1. re: jonkyo

              We have never, not once, been to zaab elee when there were any fewer than a couple of tables occupied by thais or groups including thais.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                That is good to know.

                I am told there is this excellent hole in the wall, on Riverington, that is the best Thai place around.

                Of course this is the Outer Borough board, but that is what my compatriot who attended the dining at Ayada stated.

                1. re: jonkyo

                  Im assuming you are talking about Pok Pok Phat Thai which has an American chef

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    That is correct.

                    The person who threw the assault at the chefs due to the fried fish (over priced obviously for what one gets), stated that his experience there was very splendid.

                    He has eaten Thai from street to table in Thailand. I am assuming his judgement even beats mine, established only in Bangkok.

                    So, tell me, is it is good measuring stick for these other places?

              2. re: jonkyo

                Playground is the karaoke place next to Zabb Elee. Just read some decent reviews of it on Yelp. A blog post on that place also notes it's the same owner as Zabb. I will check this place out.

                Not all the stir fried noodle dishes are meant to be spicy and even the ones that are, aren't meant to be extra hot... But all the decent Thai places will use the dried Thai chili peppers. Also, it is common in Thailand to provide this as a condiment for the diner to adjust to their own level. It's usually offered in a small serving caddy along with sugar, pickled peppers, and fish sauce. It's usually not on the table at the places in NYC but you can ask for it...BTW, the little Thai grocer across the street from Ayada sells baggies (like little Ziplock ones) of fresh ground Thai chili brought over from Thailand. But you can also buy packaged stuff at Chinese supermarkets.

                Thai people eat at Ayada all the time. I was in there two weeks ago and half the patrons were Thai- including a group of aunties that were eating and talking, not watching Thai pop music videos. They had the little spice wheel I mentioned above on their table....Plenty of Thais at Chao Thai and Sriphapai, etc.

                I've had a fried fish at Ayada that was poorly cooked.

                1. re: Silverjay

                  A professor of mine did field work in Thailand, and had to have his food provisions shipped in, and could not take any of the local food, simply due to the spices. His field work was in a rural region.

                  But of course one is not going to get a duplicate experience here in a place that is one of the most competitive restaurant markets on the east coast.

                  "But all the decent Thai places will use the dried Thai chili peppers." With this statement establishing a fact, one can conclude that the majority of Thai places are not decent. Ayada was decent. I was not displease, like my dining counterpart, with extensive time spent in urban and rural Thailand. His opposition to the place perhaps was not about authenticity, as he stated the fish was not fresh. That may be an honest contestation.

                  For my part, I will say the noodle dish was delicious. I did ask for cut fresh chilli...(fresh that is not dried), which is offered in restaurants in Vietnam and Thailand. The waitress brought the chilli powder, and immediately I was satisfied. I did happily without the fresh cut pepper.

                  I did notice that the manager and the staff, as well as the chap doing the mixing of cocktails, are quite attentive to the pleasures or displeasure of the clientele. That is a good point to note.

                  "Playground is the karaoke place next to Zabb Elee" This is good information, as well. That reminds me, Thai people in outer reaches of the Taiwan city I lived in, who worked in factories, and lived in dormitories, had at their disposal in and around the industrial area, food stores, small restaurants, and karaoke places in the same area, catering primarily to them. The food, was authentic to the maximum.

                  Zabb Elee is certain to hold promise. Least add, it was a Thai waitress who encouraged me with the suggestion of Playgound.


                2. re: jonkyo

                  Ayada gets a lot of people drawn by the NY Times review, who aren't used to what true spicy really is, and because of that they are gun shy about offering truly spicy food, because so many times people ask for spicy food and then return it. Even at Chao Thai, where the clientele is 75% local Thais, it's hard to get super spicy until you become known to them. Nowadays I can get som tom there that I practically can't even eat because of the huge quantity of chili seeds included.
                  Please don't pass judgment based on one meal for this particular situation.
                  As for Playground, I am not a fan - the level of cooking is not up to the other good spots and the ambiance is very odd.

                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                    Worth noting now then that I had a really nice meal at that Zabb last year. Great, funky som tum and a good laab.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      Funny. I stopped by Ayada last Thursday for a late lunch/early dinner. My GF and I each had an app and a starter and all of them were just short of headbangingly spicy. I'm not Thai and I don't speak Thai but I had no problem getting all the heat I could handle.

                      At Ayada, that's the reality.

                  2. re: jen kalb

                    What Ayada is: NOT like most, A GOOD ALTERNATIVE TO MARKET GLUT OF BOGUS VENUES

                    so do not get me wrong. In the comparative realm, they are a place to go to for nice dining:

                    But, please extinguish the name Thai from 98% (DARE I SAY 99%)of what is labeled Thai.

                    Example 1. of why 98% of Thai places are goof ball operations catering to people who watch chef competitions weekly on US cable from their cushy couch, may eat hamburger helper at home regularly, and have no idea about good food, even if they have been to Thailand (does not apply to any chowhounders...I hope not!).

                    Example 1.
                    A friend sending a dinner dish back due to 'too much sugar', and having the chef come to our table, though the second dish was just as bad as the first. A friend had summoned my location, a place I simply went to, not for food, for leaf tea, reading, and beer. He had not eaten.

                  3. The original comment has been removed
                    1. Did you consider that the dish you ordered was not supposed to be spicy? There are more than a few wide noodle dishes like pad see ew which are not supposed to be spicy. So even when you order it spicy they're not going to bludgeon you over the head with the spices.

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: MVNYC

                        That is good advice.

                        The dish that sat on our table with wide noodles was in English this:

                        QUOTE FROM MENU

                        Drunken Noodle


                        Saute wide noodle with choice of meat chili and basil leaves. Hot and spicy.

                        END OF THE QUOTE

                        It was not hot and spicy, until I liberated the dry chilli pepper ground-powder, from the glass shaker that I had requested.

                        If the chilli pepper had not been liberated from its container to rain down on my Drunkin Noodle, the dish would have suited my professor's palate, thus not being what he witnessed as authentic Thai food.

                        So, I have to make some conclusion about the cooks, who are good cooks, but cater to customers in a tempered manner.

                        Following our example of Drunkin Noodle, the Massaman Curry states "Choice of meat with onion, potato and peanut in coconut milk. Hot and spicy. "

                        I can conclude Ayada Massaman Curry, is not 'hot and spicy'. I say this due to the indication of "Hot and spicy" being the same as Drunkin Noodle.

                        And if the customer states make it more 'hot and spicy' than it is usual, it will be a tempered 'mild' or incredibly tame 'hot and spicy'.

                        That is ok. I am certain to find a Thai place however hidden or exposed, in NYC, that when consuming the food, napkins are needed for the sweat running down one's face.

                        1. re: jonkyo

                          Yeah drunken noodles are supposed to be spicy. Sometimes it is tough to convince a place to make something authentically spicy. Usually I'm pretty good at it. A combination of eagerness, knowledge and a smile can go far.

                          Maybe they gave you the wrong dish?

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            I was very polite, but as a person who is a skilled an observer, I acknowledged that they were busy.

                            So, instead of being disciplinary or rude, I am quite understanding.

                            In critique, of course I either throw flowers or heave honest putrid reprisals, aimed at educating, and / or warning to others.

                            The dish was correct. It has happened many times before in so many places, save for those run by quaint peasant women, and their entire extended family.

                            So, with that, it is not their fault. If I were in the kitchen with the chef, and gave presentation of my own methods, and the results of, making food hot to my very own liking, the chef would be certain get the essence of "please make it very hot and spice....I am used to extreme temperatures and find it delightful. "

                          2. re: jonkyo

                            I've been to Thailand about 7-8 times now- as recently as last December. Ayada and a handful of other places in the city are good authentic Thai restaurants.

                            A lot of people here in the U.S. don't really understand Thai food that well- i.e. expect spicy for non-spicy dishes, don't understand that some dishes are meant to be tweaked by the customer, order dishes outside of a restaurant's regional specialty, etc. I went to Ayada two weeks ago and had the duck Panang Curry, the raw shrimp appetizer, and the black egg with basil and pork. They asked me how spicy and I said Thai spicy and the food was REALLY spicy. Never had any issue with spice levels then or in the past.

                            Personally, I never order drunken noodles or pad thai at these places because 1- I don't really like the way restaurants do the stir-fried noodle dishes here and 2- these are the most popular gringo order items and maybe sends the wrong signal about what you are there to enjoy. I dunno, but anyway, I'll repeat that these dishes are meant to be tweaked on the table with dried chile. The way they are cooked in the first place, the dried chile is just added at the end and mixed together. I'm not sure why it matters to people so much if they have to toss on a couple of scoops to suit their own tastes.

                            1. re: Silverjay

                              "most popular gringo order items and maybe sends the wrong signal about what you are there to enjoy."

                              This does make much sense, and it is certain that whatever the cuisine is like, natives tend to edge towards what this causes in practice. So, in some sense it is smart for they learn what people like.

                              Intensity accompanied with good taste, dictate where I eat from times. On Brick Lane its just a about two shops for the Phal, and here there is no such thing (as phal). It is a NYC Hindi gimmick.

                              Homemade hot sauce is sometimes good. In Tainan, there was one steamed dumpling place, I would go. All others paled.

                              Chinatown here is absolutely poor with this aspect of eating. Mainland outside of Hunan, Guanxi, Jaingsu, etc is quite a challenge.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                Hear, hear. I'm Thai-Chinese, and although I was raised in the US I have a decent knowledge of Thai food from visits to Thailand and eating my mom's food. There are lots of dishes typically served in US Thai restaurants like "lad na", "pad see ew", "khao moo daeng" that are actually of Thai-Chinese origin and not supposed to be spicy.

                                Even among Thai dishes w/o Chinese influence, not every one is supposed to be blisteringly spicy, nor does every Thai person like to eat extremely spicy food - my father being an example. People in Thailand love adjusting the taste of their food with extra chili powder or extra sauces.

                                Just my 2 cents. (For what it's worth I ate at Ayada the other day and liked it, and almost found it too spicy, but I've never been the biggest chilihead).

                                1. re: pravit

                                  This argument does not accommodate the fact that I stated "please make it very hot"

                                  But that is not to say anything other than a standard result in most all restaurants, no matter the style, when one says "please make it extremely hot".

                                  This is not to say anything other than I like extremely hot food, and kindly ask for that in places where hot dishes are either frequently associated with the cuisine, or the kitchen chef, or style has significant number of 'hot' dishes.

                                  It depends what region one may be looking at with the foods, too.

                                  But thank you for your comment. It is good to read.

                                  Here is a quote that I would say I have the exact same idea regarding Hunan and Sichuan venues in the US:

                                  quote is found above by
                                  hoi lai Sep 4, 2013 03:07 PM

                                  With the possible exception of " SRI " when it was new and serving an almost exclusive
                                  Asian clientele I have never had any Thai food in a restaurant in New York that compares with what you get at a good restaurant or good food stall in Bangkok or any where else in Thailand. I don't even try anymore because it will be a disappointment.

                                  I have yet to exhaust the options in regards to trying thai in the area.

                                  Shall keep open mind.


                              2. re: jonkyo

                                There are other ways to evaluate Thai, Indian, and other cuisines that use a lot of chile than sheer degree of heat. Even in those countries, there are hot and mild dishes and there are local people who do not like amped up chile heat.

                                The side condiments are there to allow you to modify which makes sense if a restaurant is serving a range of customers.

                                More important to me than sheer heat is tasting the full range and balance of flavors in the dish, all the herbs, roots and other components that make Thai cuisine unique.By zeroing in oh heat along I think you are missing the boat..

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  The boat......

                                  I have found that l like hot food. I prepare it very hot when I cook all the time, most of the time. I have had people state, not always, that the very hot food I make is also delicious.

                                  I have food that is delicious, and hot. One can taste for a long time, because the hot sensation lingers, and as the hot pepper goes on, and eventually expires, there are all the other flavors dancing on the differing areas of the tongue (sour; bitter etc).

                                  Another point with hot, the way i prepare it at home, afterwards, the meal, coffee is so good, better. Beer is also good, and better with this hot sensation going on in the oral cavity.

                                  My Hunan friends need it hot all times they eat food, basically, unless its ice cream, or a candy bar.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    "range of customers" is why these places tone it down. It is just so disappointing, but no hard feelings in the end.

                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      one more point on hot;

                                      The many 'craft' or small guy gal made hot sauces that are now on shelves in supermarkets since the last decade, are all garbage. They have fancy or goofy labels, and the like, many have corn syrup and sugar.

                                      It is easy to still get the real thing even with the flood of these. Simply look for the Mexican or ethnic isle (then locate mexican). Mexican hot sauces are basic good hot sauces, and even the basic products are much more flavorful and extreme hot, than the so called others.

                                      Mexican Radio is a good place. You can actually sift through many, by ordering a plate of nachos. Use the differing bottles on each nacho.

                                      They have well over 40 to 50 kinds, domestic, dumb-estic, and mexican.

                                      Mexican Radio I am thinking you know....below Spring, kiddie to, and over the triangle, from the newsstand.

                                      Back in Flesh is far superior to Wall of Voodoo's Mexican Radio, for the record. Mexican Radio is when they sold out.

                                      Nice name for a restaurant though, and the owners are not mexican......just go for the nachos and hot sauce session......Presidente.....

                                    2. re: jonkyo

                                      From your own description, it's difficult to tell whether your professor friend is just a chilihead or a real Thai connoisseur. From a cursory read, he doesn't sound like someone whose taste I would trust. But then, your posts are usually pretty vague.

                                      1. re: E Eto

                                        Life on earth is vague. hahaha joking.

                                        thanks for the input.

                                        1. re: E Eto

                                          Perhaps you did not fully understand the text.

                                          I and one other person visited Ayada. That person had a number of displeasures (lack of freshness of fish/ poor mojito). I had only one (inauthentic and not accommodating requests for more hot and spicy).

                                          I backed up my statements about authentic-ness, by stating (long ago) I had a professor of anthropology who before did work in rural Thailand, for government or NGO. He could not take any of the local food for one reason, its intensity of spice and hot pepper. Logic here is Thai food for the locals, is hot.

                                          My friend, the fellow eater at the table, like myself, and my professor, spent time in Thailand. He spent considerably more time and covered more space, in his travel time in rural, urban, touristy and non-touristy Thailand.

                                          So, this non-professor carbon unit, who accompanied me to dining, is a connoisseur of fine dining.

                                          He is more concerned with quality than authenticity.

                                          I on the other hand, like raw experiences that are not corrupted by contemporary bourgeois appendages and trends.

                                          His conclusion was that the fish was not fresh, and the mojito was bad (I begged this highbrow quality seeker to consider that Ayada is not a midtown night spot, nor a mexican venue...and forgive the failed mojito).

                                          My professor of long ago, was not at the restaurant, though his statements constituted support for an argument that I put forth about flavor and authenticity, due to the lack of an intensity I have encountered with such cuisine on native soil.

                                          Vagueness does not exist in the above text, nor in other parts of this thread by me. Next time I could do a bullet point presentation. I tend away from drive by 'proselytizations' of my critiques.

                                          Some clarity has unfolded though with silverjay's last comment, and my added two cents.

                                          Silverjay did point out, and I know this to be fact, about customer adjustments of the dishes ordered with items such as he mentions.

                                          1. re: jonkyo

                                            The only thing you've said in 5 million words or thereabouts regarding authenticity is that the food wasn't hot and wasn't served in a dirt hut. You've made no other comments that I could discern, bullet pointed or otherwise, about what lacked authenticity. A mojito seems like a bit too much of a bourgeois appendage, but who the heck orders a mojito at a Thai restaurant, expects it to be good, and somehow lets that color their view of how authentic and/or good the food is?

                                            1. re: Peter Cuce

                                              With the possible exception of " SRI " when it was new and serving an almost exclusive
                                              Asian clientele I have never had any Thai food in a restaurant in New York that compares with what you get at a good restaurant or good food stall in Bangkok or any where else in Thailand. I don't even try anymore because it will be a disappointment.

                                                1. re: hoi lai

                                                  I think that is false. When I returned from Bangkok in late 2008 I was bemused to note that there were four or five restaurants in Queens that would register as "good" in that city. Now, in that same trip I also went to Saigon, where a cuisine prevails that is an order of magnitude better than the saccharine facsimile of Vietnamese food you find here.

                                                  1. re: hoi lai

                                                    What does that have to do with *anything*?

                                                    "French food is better in Paris."

                                                    "Italian food is better in Florence."

                                                    Exactly how do any of those statements help me eat well in NYC? This *is* the Outer Boroughs board after all, or am I missing something?

                                                    If you've got better NYC suggestions then please name them. We'd be delighted to hear them. If all of your tips are for Bangkok places please post them on the Asia board. So far you haven't although you've been posting since 2008.

                                                    Please share them.

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      Well, there are some Outer Borough places that follow from the principle I stated in another reply, and that is "exclusive places, places that simply opened to fill the market of [for] immigrants from x, y, z."

                                                      As for Thai, I had long decided not to dine in Thai venues in the US. I fell back on this last year, and had misadventures that included watching a staff member, pick chilli peppers from an live plant ornament by the front door (to resolve my request for chilli powder and / or fresh chilli), as well as other things.

                                                      Ayada was so good compared to those misadventures. Thus said the experience I hope brings people to the idea of continuity in dining, ie: mojitos in a Cuba, or Latin place, Asian white wine in an Asian place.

                                                      Ayada should place those dishes with peppers, pepper powder and more, in a place where they can be asked for.

                                                    2. re: hoi lai

                                                      It is nice to discover what market forces do to food. And in the end, with many places, that is what we are dealing with, unless one is talking about more exclusive places, places that simply open to fill the market of immigrants from x, y, z.

                                                      I have the same attitude towards Hunan and Sichuan places. I simply say 'why bother'. I can prepare it better (hunan that is) at home.

                                                      Thank you.

                                                    3. re: Peter Cuce

                                                      Yes, I agree totally.

                                                      Mojito, It is not actually Mexican, I found out

                                                      "Mojito is derived from the Spanish mojo sauce"-wikipedia

                                                      "The mojito was born on the island of Cuba and is one of the nation's oldest cocktails"-History of the Mojito: College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida

                                                      Lessons learned is take to the beer at Ayada, or order up some tasty Asian white wine. They do have selections of red wines, from imported and domestic bottles.

                                                      It competes in the manner that most honest Restaurateurs do. That means, there is the chance that requests for what one might get on the street or in the hut, or concert hole in wall, of the respected cuisine's geographic source, will result in disappointments.

                                                      A more overriding theme here, rather than inauthentic, is how markets define what will be served.

                                                      I might be a fastidious pursuants of authentic food, though others may state that I fall victim to hypercriticism 'the practice of unreasonable or unjustly severe criticism', but I do think that taste is the final determining factor here. Thus said, the food at Ayada is tasty, service good. It serves one level of the authetic.

                                                      That is not to say that Ayada is not good, in any way.

                                                      Established factors are found in local authetic cuisines. Just see where one can find that here.

                                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                                        So what wasn't authentic about it besides the level of spice? And the mojito...

                                            2. Saying Ayada isn't authentic Thai is bizarre. For a while it was my go-to place for Isaan-style somtam.

                                              If your waiter judges that you can't handle "real" Thai spiciness, then he or she may make a unilateral decision to tone it down, lest you send your dish back. That can be annoying and is sometimes hard to deter.

                                              24 Replies
                                              1. re: guanubian

                                                Well, seeing that you have a more wide understanding of Thai cuisine, I heed to what you say.

                                                I know of a Thai restaurant, where the food done up after the place closes, for the Thai staff, is very authetic. Of course, this is the US. Profit margins keep these places alive, to employ others, and provide customers.

                                                This would follow from the precepts derived from what you say.

                                                Thank you for the info.

                                                1. re: jonkyo

                                                  so which restaurant is that prepares this authentic food?

                                                2. re: guanubian

                                                  I was curious.

                                                  So Green Papaya Salad is som (green) tam (papaya)....but I was wrong: quote สีเขียว
                                                  s̄ī k̄heīyw "green" in Thai; มะละกอ alakx"papaya" in Thai end quote

                                                  and here, Isaan people's food:

                                                  "The food of Isaan is very hot and flavored with pungent herbs and".

                                                  If you are interested, here is a link that may help Chowhound people in discovery of thai cuisine:


                                                  "green papaya salad, made with papaya, beans, chili, pla ra, brined crab, hog plum, and lime ... Som tam, the Thai variation, was listed at number 46 on World's 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011."

                                                  I will try it...and if it is not hot and spicy, 我要哭,马马虎虎!

                                                  Thanks for the recommend

                                                  1. re: jonkyo

                                                    I don't think the som tam at Ayada is bad but I much prefer the versions at the two Zabb Elee- although I usually make it at home these days. But anyway for a complete novice such as yourself, that complains a lot about not getting authentic food, I suggest you go to one of those places and tell them you want it Thai spicy level five and emphasize five chili peppers. Tell them you have spent time in Thailand. You can use this phrase- ผมกินเผ็ดเหมือนคนไทย (pom gin pet meuan kon thai). It means "I eat spicy like a Thai person". Most of the servers at those restaurants don't even like it that spicy, but it shouldn't matter to you.

                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                      I like Chao Thai's somtom a lot. My fire eater friend had to ask them to tone it down. But they might not make the food super hot until they get to know you.

                                                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                        Yeah Chao Thai's version is good too. It's similar to Ayada. I just like the approach that the pure Isaan places take by offering several versions, including ones with egg, pickled fish or crab, pork rinds, cucumber, etc. They are also served pretty much as entrees and nice and soupy where you can dip sticky rice into. Some versions use pla ra, which is a fermented fish sauce from the north/Laos area that takes the funkiness up a notch....Seitsma just reported on a new Isaan place in the EV with a branch in Bangkok called Somtum Der ( This menu looks promising and there are some dishes that I haven't seen on the Zabb menus.

                                                    2. re: jonkyo

                                                      If you want to know somtam, go to Larb Ubol in Manhattan and try every permutation on the menu.

                                                      1. re: guanubian

                                                        seriously I just read through this thread and it sounds like a rambling mess, I wish I didn't start reading.

                                                      2. re: jonkyo

                                                        why are you writing chinese in a post about thai food? and not translating since 99.5% of the board cant read chinese?

                                                        for everyone else is says "wo yao ku, ma ma hu hu" which means "i will cry, so so" (the last part doesnt translate to english that well)

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          For non-Chinese - ma ma hu hu (mama who who) is a cute way of saying "meh" or that something's just within the realm of "ok"

                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                            As a non chinese speaker i find the untranslated non-western text in jonkyo's posts only slightly harder to comprehend, frankly. i

                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              七早八早哭媽媽哭爸爸 (qizaobazao kumama kubaba)

                                                              "seven early eight early, cry mother cry father" (early in the morning crying for your mother and father)

                                                              The cultural understanding of this might best be done by stating it indicates a state of affairs where the individual feel despondent in the face of complexity. The Chinese use this to lighten up as well as make a little (no intent) harmless fun.

                                                              So one might use this saying to all this serious fuss over food, just to lighten things up.

                                                              I do find the wide noodle of Ayada better than the pok pok noodle. I actually find pok pok in any location, a Thai themed restaurant. Chinese metro areas with educated middle classes, they also have 'themed' venues of various national and ethnic places. They exist along side the ones run by actual castaways from various parts of the world.

                                                              Such 'themed' venues exist all over, such as Korea's capital, in the south that is, and Thailand. Vietnam has some too. They just don't have a LES.

                                                              1. re: jonkyo

                                                                Was that a reference to Borat?
                                                                Let me tell you about Thai food in the glorious nation of Kazakhstan...

                                                                1. re: diprey11

                                                                  Borat.....I only know his rendition of the Rap image he portrayed his book showcased in many London bookshops, but he had a different name. That was entertaining in a Howard Stern would appreciate kind of way.

                                                                  More recent, I have not a clue as to what this individual did other than denigrate culture and ethnicity in ways, in his Central Asia ....spoof.....or production.

                                                                  No, it was not a reference to Borat, it was a reference to a phrase used in the Chinese speaking lingual communities.

                                                                  1. re: jonkyo

                                                                    As a reference to Chinese speaking communities, ask me how I know about that. :-)

                                                                    Look, Ayada is not exactly Chinese, although there are Chinese-origin Thai items on the menu. And--they are not Issan either, so comparisons to Zabb or Poddam aren't fair. Although Thailand is much smaller than China--or the US--all Thai cooking is regional. I am really sorry for having to spell it out.

                                                                    It might be me, but after a number of years (from the time back when there was an extensive job board at the front), I still think the lady cook knows what she's doing. And no, I don't always order the pineapple fried rice from the lunch menu.

                                                                    This is NYC and, fortunately or not, you will have to work hard to get their best food, unless you either look or speak Thai, or demonstrate some knowledge of their culinary tradition. For any complaints,

                                                                    1. re: diprey11

                                                                      Thanks for the info.

                                                                      seems my impressions are correct but have an explanation that is quite fair and certainly understandable.

                                                                      The food I ordered there did state the dish was made hot and spicy. Having such equate with mild or slightly spicy, is the norm in the continental US, no matter what kind of place I am in.

                                                                      most countries have foods that are regionally based, but interesting to know the ethnic groups and their respected cuisines.

                                                                      Here is a quote about hot taste and Thai curry "Red curry has more or less remained the same, with traditional Thai chefs adding up to 20 red chilies to make it red and fiery hot." (thaifood)

                                                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                                                        20 chillies per serving? Properly pounded? I hope you understand what you are after. 12 chilies is considered very hot in Thailand.

                                                                        Even the hottest noodles don't have that. If you like it hot you are supposed to ask for extra condiments on the side. Spicing up stir-fried noodles is a table-side affair in Thailand.

                                                                        1. re: diprey11

                                                                          I am accustomed to hot food, prepared in a manner in which the consumer does not need hot pepper.

                                                                          Of course, if one eats in a region of the world, where the hot is not consumed by the majority, there will be hot sauce or other arrangements to allow those who like it hot, can eat it hot.

                                                                          20 chillis, I was just quoting the article.

                                                                          I could come up with a list for the places in town that cook it hot, and the hot is just fine.

                                                                          Another list of places claimed to be hot, or cuisine of a place that has majority of meals prepared hot, but fail to live up to the cuisine's hot.

                                                                          I will look into this chilli numbering factor. Thank you.

                                                                          1. re: jonkyo

                                                                            In the spirit of your thread title, this post seems to be "Mea culpa, not exactly...".

                                                                            1. re: jonkyo

                                                                              which places are the ones that "cook it hot, and the hot is just fine."?

                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                btw you know what is? they pay people to write articles, but they pay them almost nothing and they don't really care what is in the article as long as it gets as many hits as possible, so they use their algorithms to try to get their sites to the top of the google search. its not exactly the best information

                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                  When it comes to chinese topics, we're supposed to take him at his word that he knows what he's talking about. But when he gets into other topics, nevermind what chowhounds have to say, he suddenly depends on wiki and about.

                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                      i'm still thinking he's andy kaufman.

                                                          2. I thought that this article might be a good cap piece for this discussion. Getting a restaurant to cook for patrons the way they would cook it for themselves/think the food should be cooked - rather than imposing either some sort of fire scale standard of authenticity or dumbing down for American tastes would be my standard of what is desired - in addition of course to deliciousness.


                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                              i tuned out of this thread when the replies were being written in the consensus about Ayada still on the positive?

                                                              I'm Vietnamese-American, but am very familiar with Thai food, and really love the place.

                                                              1. re: waxyjax

                                                                haha you know totally makes sense to write about thai food in chinese...

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  Yes, well you know being fluent in one Asian language must mean one is an authority in a completely different Asian country's cuisine :p

                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                      It was easier for him to switch to Chinese than to explain in English why Ayada in not exactly Thai food...

                                                                      I had lunch at Ayada last month. Can't recall what I had and I didn't feel like writing it up, but food was decidedly "eh". Wasn't their best effort or I ordered wrong. I'm still crazy about the place and it is solidly in my rotation. I wish they would run some blackboard specials.

                                                                      I agree 100% with missmasala on becoming a regular and/or explaining what you are looking for. There was a guy I got to know at Chao Thai that understood what I was looking for and I've never had any issues at either Zabb Elee locations. But Sri and Ayada will occasionally not follow my requests- although most of the time I don't have a spicing issue at all.

                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                        Was the guy at Chao Thai on the round side, if that is the one I like him for the same reasons.

                                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                                          strangely, i didn't have a wonderful experience at Chao Thai -perhaps it might've been what i ordered...regardless, i do intend on giving them another chance.

                                                                2. re: jen kalb

                                                                  I resorted to doing what Andy Ricker suggests a while back, saying "Make it like you would in Thailand" or some variant, but it doesn't always work, either. I don't think there is any foolproof way to get exactly the heat level you want or think should be there. And while Ricker's condiment tray suggestion does work sometimes and is what you would find in Thailand, many dishes (as he points out) derive their flavor as well as their heat from the fresh green chilis. So when Thai restaurants take the chilis out of a dish to please soft farang palates and then try to put the spiciness back in with crushed red chili, it's just not the same dish. And even if you ask for it to be made "the way it would be in Thailand" or some such, a busy line cook who has things set up to make a dish a certain way (ie. without the fresh chilis) may not be bothered to adjust it just because you want it the more "authentic" way.
                                                                  IME, the best way to get Thai food the way you want is to eat at certain places regularly and explain just how you like your dishes, so that the servers/owners/cooks know you and will make it the way you want.