>> Friday, November 6, 2009

70-15 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-1470

Thai restaurants come in two basic varieties. Variety one is, or tries to be, trendy. Variety two is plain-Jane. Thai Austin is a plain-Jane Thai restaurant that, if the number of pickups is any indication, makes most of its money on takeout. Buried in the basement of the black architectural nightmare across from Lucille Roberts, Thai Austin is almost hidden from the bustle of the shoppers above.

Once inside, Thai Austin is dark, but not in a romantic way. Some Thai-esque things line the wall, and a Buddha statue fountain with a glowing blue ball in his hands sits between the tables for two and the tables for four. I feel that Thai Austin could have a certain fun kitchiness to it if it were crowded all the time. Instead, its usually empty dining room gives off a lonely aura. It feels like the kind of place Philip Marlowe would eat Thai food in while thunderstorms pounded the city beyond the window...

But for those New Yorkers who do venture into this little hole of a restaurant, some surprises may await within. The Thai Spring Rolls and the Chicken Dumplings are not among them however. The spring rolls are totally generic and the dumplings were soggy and saturated. The Thai Hoo Tod, a fried tofu appetizer, was decent, but depended very heavily on the sweet peanut dipping sauce that came with it. And you don't get nearly enough. However, there is a soup there, a Chicken Vegetable Soup that I failed to get the name of, which is absolutely fantastic. Chicken, Asian greens, garlic and scallions served boiling hot, but packed to the brim with flavor.

Where this restaurant really shines is in its entrees. Nothing that I ordered here recently has been greasy or bland. The Salmon Penang, a broiled salmon fillet in a penang curry sauce with bell peppers, onions, carrots and bok choi was delicious. No fishy taste, nicely spicy, perfectly flaky without being dry at all, I can't recommend this enough. The Chicken Thai Classic with Basil Sauce, chicken in a basil sauce, served with chili, onion, fresh basil and bell pepper was similarly good. To embrace my inner vegetarian, I also tried the Mussamun Curry with Tofu Duck, served with potato, peanuts, onion and coconut. This curry is not terribly hot, but the sweet and spicy flavors mingle well together. And while no one who has had the real thing will ever be fooled by the tofu duck, they actually do a pretty good job and it's a nice distraction from the same meats/protein alternatives over and over, again and again. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

The average appetizer at Thai Austin is $5 and the entrees range from $10 to $20.


Erica November 6, 2009 at 4:36 PM  

Their tofu duck is the best mock duck in FoHi. I think it's actually seitan.

Thai Austin is great, but I find that generally, the service stinks. And if you do a pick-up order, you will linger there for ages.

CattyinQueens November 6, 2009 at 11:57 PM  

Huh...I have had Thai Austin twice, and found it bland, bland, bland. But now I never go anywhere but Thai Pot. It's really top notch.

Jon Parker November 8, 2009 at 1:11 AM  

I didn't like the appetizers, but I did like the entrees.

Matt November 10, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

If the soup also had some tofu in it, then it's their Thai Austin soup and I agree with you - boiling and great.

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