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Apr 5, 2014 01:15 PM

Best Thai....Please tell me the very best....

I have determined the Best Thai venue in all the Outer Boroughs barring Staten Island.

These are out of major stand outs, my visiting them, and the results of which based on taste of food.

I would like to simply see the 'best' that others have concluded, without divulging my 'best'.

And also perhaps as to why or what determined the conclusion.

Thank you.

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  1. "I have determined the Best Thai venue in all the Outer Boroughs barring Staten Island."

    Please tell us what it is.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Zabb Elee Queens.
        No, wait! scratch that...
        I will show you mine if you show me yours!

        47 Replies
        1. re: diprey11

          I will go to Zebb...and see. I had determined this, before visiting Zebb...

          Wait....Thais that I know don't eat there.

          The most inviting aspect of eating in an ethnic venue, is seeing the seating dominated by people of that ethnic group.

          In London, when entering the South African bar, one is greeted with South Africans customers. In Sistas' Place, one is greeted with African Americans.

          I found the exact opposite in Ayada Thai. It was filled with these poseur types, the kind that sprawl on beaching in Phuket, in the current manifestation of commodified colonialism, or what most people call tourism.

          1. re: jonkyo

            1) there are thai people you don't know. and some of them eat at Zabb

            2) any time i've been to Ayada -- a dozen or so times in the past two years -- there's been a sizeable Thai presence.

            3) since you are, in essence, a tourist, and, to all outward appearances, a colonialist, you're simply adding to the problem to speak of.

            1. re: debinqueens

              Where do Thais that you know eat? perhaps you should direct this question to them.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                They eat at home.....and go to some places in Jackson Heights.

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  Every Thai place I have been, in NYC, the waitresses would never eat there, at least from the menu they give non thais that frequent the places.

                  These waitresses of Thai origins, always discourage me from eating the food at the places they work at, due to my asking "is it authentic here"

                  They tell me where to go for authentic and around Jackson Heights.

                  I finally went to the places.

                  I never heard Ayada mentioned.

                  1. re: jonkyo

                    What have you tried, for chrissake? I'd agree that, in order to avoid fusion food (not that it's bad!), you might want to skip restaurants where native culture carriers--such as waiters--won't go; provided you realize that they tend to prefer cheaper places.

                    But the problem is: how are you qualified to judge??? Especially if you have never heard of Ayada. (They used to run a board of household jobs for new Thai immigrants.)

                    1. re: diprey11

                      I am judging just on taste.

                      That is all.

                      Ayada just seemed cultish in its followers, on line, that is, and that is where I found it.

                      Most restaurants I find with feet and eyes....and public transport as well.

                      Some others are from vocalizations that form words, that emanate from an individual human source who is live, in front of me, or to the side, of seated near me.

                      I rarely use the internet as a source, ever, for years, to find things that are in the build human environment.

                      I do succumb to paper publications though.

                      Your suggestion is keen, I think.

                      Thank you for sharing that.

                    2. re: jonkyo

                      And what are the names of the places in Jackson Heights to which you were sent by the waitresses who work in Thai restaurants that they do not eat at?

                        1. re: jonkyo

                          So what did you order? What's good there?

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            curry, the hottest...

                            then flat wide noodle to a friend who dined too.

                          2. re: jonkyo

                            Playground is next door to Zabb, a waitress there told me they had the same owner. The place is very authentic Isaan/Lao and is seriously good **if** you order right, yet it's somewhat underrated. (A great choice, and the same sentiment applies to The Thailand Center Point: if you are not intimately familiar with the cuisine please talk to your waitress and listen carefully.)

                            They have quite a few dishes that reflect a folksy coastal Chinese view on what the Thai food is supposed to be like, let alone obligatory seafood noodles--not bad actually! but anything with roast meat is horrible! I am sad that most non-Thai people who come there would ask for crunchy-fried grasshoppers, red ant larvae, or other exotics. They also have a great karaoke room downstairs. Yes, that business is a keeper.

                            But do try the place next door and see if you can spot any difference in the quality of cooking. :-)

                              1. re: diprey11

                                I spotted the red ant larvae, but was after curry.

                                1. re: diprey11

                                  Ah hah! I had a good feeling about this place, but felt like it could go both ways -- awful, or awesome. Now I'm intrigued.

                          3. re: tex.s.toast

                            Both Zabb and Ayada have a very significant presence of younger Thai couples. (Sri--not that much.) See if you can trust me on my word. :-)

                          4. re: debinqueens

                            I will take your word for it.

                            If Zabb is on par with other treasured thai places, I shall be happy.

                            I need my head to be on fire, and my face with sweat pouring off of it.

                            With no sugar used in the dishes.

                            That tends to be a big problem with some of the pseudo Thai places.

                            Thanks for the recommend.

                            1. re: jonkyo

                              What do ya mean, no sugar added? Ever heard of Thai palm sugar and how it is used to balance food hotness?
                              Do you have any experience with Thai food at all? (China/TW experience doesn't count)

                              1. re: diprey11

                                I never had a dish (barring dessert, which I rarely Thailand never), in Thailand that had sugar in it.

                                Sugar sensitivity comes through even with the most minute portions even from honey.

                                It is a corruption of the food.

                                My point is clear I hope.

                                But if you have no problem with sugar, by all means hunt out Thai restaurants to fortify their dishes with minute to extreme portions of sugar.

                                If that is so I could recommend some, for sure.

                                It is not needed in any food, for awesome flavor. I am told at nice places, what ever the type......"there is only salt, other spices, no sugar added."

                                So, this is just my qualification. No sugar. It is very bad, for taste and the body. It ruins food and makes ones teeth griddy.

                                You may have others, such as the inclusion of sugar.

                                In the photo here, one can see a plastic bottle that says "no high fructose" But if one looks at the ingredients, one can see 'sugar' is a prominent feature.

                                This is very fatuous, to exclude 'high fructose' and make the point to promote that fact, yet add sugar to the item.

                                I hope my point is clear.

                                But if you like sugar in your dishes, I can recommend Thai places that fortify their dishes with sugar.

                                1. re: jonkyo

                                  I hate griddy teeth.

                                  but i love thai foods.

                                  if one looks at this link, you will see an inauthentic product of the nation of thailand comprised of sweet palms, but, to paraphrase the sugar-nazi: "No sugar for you" or your thailands foods:


                                  1. re: jonkyo

                                    I would disagree with you, however... sugar is used sparely, more as a condiment. Let the Thai people on this board be the judge

                                    1. re: diprey11

                                      In other places, people love sugar, even in popular Italian restaurants that add it to sauces for pasta.

                                      I have lived in Asia as well as Europe. Aside from the rich chocolate brownies at Starbucks, when extended hours of wake are in demand, there is nothing that could make me feel that sugar in dinner or lunch or breakfast dishes is anything of a virtue.

                                      The sugar history, with cane, is very old in Asia and other places. So, the processing of wheat flour and rice, to color of white. That does nothing but show that processing can lead to ill health.

                                      Its as bad as oil.

                                    2. re: jonkyo

                                      So the palm sugar that I buy in the Bangkok Center Grocery, which they import from Thailand and is specified in countless Thai recipes offered by native Thai cooks, is not authentic? Could've fooled me.

                                      Thai food is a balance of spicy (chiles), salty (fish sauce) sour (lime juice, tamarind) and sweet (palm sugar). When the balance is right, you don't notice the presence of palm sugar.

                                  2. re: jonkyo

                                    I took a thai cooking class with a woman from thailand that owns a restaurant here in the U.S. She said curry was a balance of hot, sour and sweet and when those ingredients balance, the taste of the curry will, to use her word, pop. I've since made the dish 100s of time and I've tried to cut the sugar but found she was right, there's is a point (reached by trial and error) where the taste pops.

                                    It's entirely possible she taught us an americanized version of the dish, I have her email and can ask. Just to be clear, are you saying that in your travels in thailand, you ate curry and there was no trace of sugar?

                                    1. re: vinouspleasure

                                      He orders his curry with Splenda.

                                      Sugar is essential to Thai cuisine. Palm and coconut sugar are used in dishes to achieve the balance you mentioned and to make the fresh herbs pop and to cut the astringency of bitter items. And Thais use white sugar as a tableside condiment to tweak dishes. I've lived in Asia, been to Thailand many times, several different regions, eaten on the street often, etc. It's a part of their cooking. Thais probably have a bigger sweet tooth than Americans.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        your experience certainly aligns with her recipe. Actually, I found it shocking how much sugar is in the dish. It doesn't taste sweet, but it's an awful lot of sugar.

                                        1. re: vinouspleasure

                                          It's an interesting cuisine because even somtum and yam dishes, items we usually call salads, use sugar- although they are prepared to order so you can ask them to make without. If you go to Somtum Der in the East Village, their "on display" somtum making operation has a jar of palm sugar cakes next to the limes and peanuts and dried shrimp etc. It's meant to be a sort of glorified version of a street operation from Thailand....If you want to avoid sugar when you eat Thai, you pretty much have to know what you are doing. Not sure I would consider ordering curry at an Isan/Lao place in Queens a sign of that.

                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                            yeah, I recall sugar in the papaya salad recipe too though I haven't made it in a while as I'm missing the tool to shred papaya.

                                            1. re: vinouspleasure

                                              Oh just swap cucumbers for papaya. They are easy to find and u can just peel and cut them up. I make the dressing at home all the time..i've taken a Lao cooking class which covered somtum. For Thai stuff i have some cookbooks and watch cooking vids on YT.

                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                never tried it with cucumbers, interesting idea. I've never made somtum, I do have a killer recipe for tom yum but it's a lot of work and some of the ingredients are hard to find in my neck of the woods.

                                  3. re: debinqueens

                                    "any time i've been to Ayada -- a dozen or so times in the past two years -- there's been a sizeable Thai presence."

                                    That's been my experience too. We were there 3 weeks ago and half the clientele was Thai.

                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                      Oh well, then there are those Thai that I have not met, who would recommend this venue.

                                      I and another who accompanied me to this establishment, who spent sizable chunks of time, in Thailand, did not like the place.

                                      But that is not important. If you like it, that is good. Competition is needed.

                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                        It's been 3 days since you promised to reveal the "best Thai in the outer boroughs." In the interim people have listed their favorites.

                                        Now it's time for you to reveal your winner.

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                          the winner is what the woman stated who waiting tables at a Soho Thai place, where I would partake of their $2 Chang Beer bottles and always forgo food. Playground. She stated this is where to get the Thai food that Thai people eat.

                                    2. re: debinqueens

                                      essence: "the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features" -dictionary

                                      I am not a tourist, but can become a colonist in due time.

                                      I will colonize the Thai venue with my entourage of European Gypsies and vanity filled failed celebrity types.

                                      We will dine and if the food does not come to par with what we desire, we will leave, unsatisfied and lodge complaints on social media.

                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                        Bob - clearly he doesnt have a place

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          Actually, he does. Mixed Yelp reviews FWIW.


                                          They have karaoke too.

                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                            haha wow, he actually named a place for once

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              It's a really good Isaan/Lao place, @Lau. Give him some slack--just this once!

                                              1. re: diprey11

                                                haha im totally willing to try it...looks interesting actually

                                                the stream of consciousness, anti america, judging a place by everything but the food gets old quickly, but thats a separate issue

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  food is the main point.

                                                  When the food does not please, it is easy to notice other phenomena. When the food is so so good, then rapture takes hold, and even a gangsta' shootout might not be noticed.

                                         of consciousness, anti america....

                                                  I googled that, and what came up but references to 'Ulysses' and 'John Steinbeck'.

                                                  You may be right, I don't like american style pancakes, Steinbeck, hollywood, pop tarts....

                                                  But, wait, I love.....well..... polish ham.....

                                                  Boars Head ruined the market for cold cut meats, here in the USA.

                                                  At least we can find good contestants for "Best Thai".

                                                  Stream of consciousness????

                                                  Are you doing one of those 'infomercials'?

                                                  I am headed to Staten Island to canvass for the best Thai restaurant...

                                                2. re: diprey11

                                                  I'd cut slack, except it's part of the zabb group that he diismisses, and has caucasian clientele, a real deal breaker :)

                                                  1. re: debinqueens

                                                    Guys, I hear you--and sometimes I do feel upset about some statements made. But when he's right he's right.

                                                    As per the Zabb clientele. There is, for instance, a very charming African-American couple who visit regularly. They are certainly not Thai, I am quite sure of that :-) but they do enjoy eating out and they know and love the place, and I am perfectly happy to ask them for recommendations. Do we really have to be Thai-born in order to understand and enjoy their ethnic food?

                                                    On the other hand, does knowledge count at all? given that everyone has got their own opinion on everything under the sun... You can't really argue about tastes either, not even when they get generalized into a maxim. Sometimes an assertion gets backed up by a sheer number of opinions from Yelp, which is just a site for popular votes (there can be no review there without giving a grade). So I was wondering if the majority argument can be used to prove every claim.

                                                    1. re: diprey11

                                                      im all for coming up with your own opinion and you are totally in the right to judge a restaurants food yourself, just bc its popular on yelp or chowhound doesnt mean you have to like it. however this is different, this is judging places by factors completely separate from the food and then saying it a matter of fact manner claiming that you or mysterious professors etc are experts in the matter. For people like you diprey11, you'll be able to discern on your own, but for someone new to the board or just casually searching they maybe like oh XYZ restaurant sounds like it sucks, which i think is generally a disservice

                                              2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                My favorite line from the yelp piece (which actually sums up quite a bit about this joint): "It's totally worth a diarrhea the next day." This guy was not joking.

                                        2. re: jonkyo

                                          Zabb Elee is in fact dominated by younger Thai couples: make no mistake about it, check out late in the evening.

                                          Ayada, too. But Ayada has a very different food style: the Thai cuisine is fiercely regional. So, you'll have to either state your preferences--or just go eat at Olive Garden.

                                          Now, @debinqueens asked a very relevant question: how are you different from any tourist as far as the real Thai food is concerned? Speak any Thai?

                                      2. Whats wrong with Thai in Staten Island

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Ziggy41

                                          Thai in Staten Island is not as easily reached, as Thai in Queens, or Manhattan.

                                          If there is a community of Thai there, like the community of of people from sri lanka, then locating the venue where people from that community eat, would assure a good competitor for one to judge in this.

                                          1. re: Ziggy41

                                            @Ziggy, it's not worth it. :-) Think he's ever been to SI?

                                            1. re: diprey11

                                              I canvassed for NYPIRG in Staten Island, in the late 1980s.

                                              My only meal there was being invited into an Italian family home, and having demands to join them for dinner.

                                              The terrain of Staten Island I know is purely residential, and two decades old in my memory.

                                          2. Saying you don't like Ayada because of the honky clientele is like saying you don't read Chowhound because of the performance art.

                                            6 Replies
                                              1. re: foodiemom10583

                                                And I guess I might be the only(?) honky client at Ayada at any given point of time. I don't look or speak Thai, FWIW.

                                                1. re: foodiemom10583

                                                  Performative of course, though art....maybe it is craft.

                                                  "expression that serves to effect a transaction or that constitutes the performance of the specified act by virtue of its utterance"

                                                  acts of eating......and drinking of course.

                                                    1. re: AubWah

                                                      You guys should talk to each other. :-))))

                                                2. re: Pulpio

                                                  I did not like it because of the flavor coming from my order, and what I expect Thai curry to taste like.