Easter Sunday is a fine day to go out to brunch. Not to a carving station/bottomless mimosa/Easter egg hunt affair--any of those things is enough to keep me from getting out of bed. But rather, a proper brunch. A Thai meal, for example.
After checking out the hundreds of dead fish floating in the lake at the Celery Farm (victims of winterkill), we headed out to Queens. Queens, as you might know, is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in New York. It's dizzying, with its array of markets and restaurants. Well worth a trip one sunny afternoon. Pack a cooler for any goodies you buy.
We didn't buy any goodies, but did go directly to Ayada Thai, on the recommendation by an old college friend who, based on what I see on Facebook, associates only with Asians, and eats Asian meals three times a day. He knows his stuff.
Fully expecting to walk into a hole-in-the-wall dive of a place, we were a bit surprised to see a very nice little restaurant, with a full bar no less. The cocktail list had pictures, which of course was a sign to stay well away from them.
The menu was certainly more extensive than the typical Thai menu, which largely consist of the same exact dishes restaurant to restaurant. We were looking for unique and interesting dishes, but to some extent ended up falling back on known entities. No soup made with blood, for example.
First up was a Thai sausage salad, ordered "spicy" (pictured above).
This dish was popping bright with acidity and herbs, crunchy vegetables, and packed a wallop of spice. So much so that we regretted ordering it that spicy. That spice stayed with us the rest of the meal (and the rest of the day). Painful, and delicious.
We don't eat enough whole fried fish, and I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass us by. We ordered the whole fried fish topped with green papaya salad. Marvelous, moist, crispy fish. And a ton of crisp green papaya salad. Green papaya is crunchy and vaguely fruity. This salad is tossed with lime juice and fish sauce, as very likely garlic and dried shrimp and hot chili peppers and peanuts and Chinese long bean. Really super stuff in general, and this pile was no exception.
The generally (somewhat) typical dish of shrimp with ginger was exceptional. We opted for the tiger shrimp option (at a surcharge), which are large, grilled, and served butterflied in the shell. The sauce was intensely flavored, and the vegetables (onion, Chinese celery, mushrooms, carrots) were plentiful.
The service was super friendly and efficient. No language barriers, and the fella was very helpful with questions. Water was thankfully refilled several times without asking.
Get there early for your meal. By noon, the place was packed and people were waiting to get in. I suspect the New York Times review has continued to help their business. The menu even notes which dishes were recommended in that Times review.
Ayada certainly seems to be leaning toward authentic Thai cooking, with plenty of offerings to keep those who are tired of the same-ol' interested and excited. There's no reason to not return to Ayada, except for the fact that there's a shit-ton of other fantastic places to try. You could spend a lifetime exploring the restaurants in Queens. I'll commit at least part of a lifetime doing just that.
Ayada Thai : 77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY : 718.424.0844