>> Wednesday, August 21, 2013
HIVE THAI COOKING
71-60 Yellowstone Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-2099 / 0078
Hive Thai Cooking on Yellowstone Boulevard, across from the now shuttered Da Silvana, is the latest attempt at making a successful restaurant on its particular corner. The space was formerly the improperly-named Dumpling Cafe, a decent-but-not-amazing Chinese place with far fewer dumplings on the menu than their name would imply. Prior to Dumpling Cafe, the occupant had been Munch, a coffee bar/sandwich shop/internet cafe/Asian candy store, whose decision to be a jack of all trades ultimately meant that it was the master of none. Thai is a risky venture here. Forest Hills currently has at least seven. And now it has eight. Can Hive pull customers away from the competition?
I've eaten twice at Hive. Once, Bro and I took the food to go. A second time, I ate in by myself. Clearly, Hive will be making the vast majority of its money with to-go orders. I've never seen more than one table was occupied by a dine-in customer, and I was him. Speaking of the interior, it's well lit, cheery, and spotlessly clean, but it's somewhat barren and stale and I sort of felt like I was eating in an oversized kindergarten cafeteria.
Hive's best dish thus far was the Tom Yum Soup, a spicy lemongrass soup with mushroom, cilantro, lime leaves, galangal and lime juice that I ordered with chicken. It burst with flavor and heat. I like it when a spicy soup really gets my nose to run, and run it did. I also ordered the Grilled Chicken Satay, a Thai classic. Marinated in turmeric and coconut milk, Hive's satay is far less dry than others that I've had. It was served with both a peanut dipping sauce and a sweet cucumber dipping sauce. I think that fans of chicken satay will be far from disappointed. I can't say the same for the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings. The dumplings are actually filled with a pureed mix of shrimp, chicken, and mushroom, and while Bro didn't mind them, I thought that they were just slightly more palatable than eating shrimp scented balls of soggy cardboard. The ginger soy dip helped, but not having ordered them in the first place would have helped more.
In feebly trying to limit my carb intake, I have yet to try any of Hive's noodle dishes. Sacrilege, I know. Anyone with opinions on their pad thai or pad woonsen are encouraged to fill my comment box to bursting. I have had the Chicken Wok Basil, a spicy-but-not-too-spicy stir fry of your choice meat (chicken for me), carrots, onion, chili-garlic, and basil sauce. Very very good. I was pleasantly surprised and am bound to get this again. Bro ordered the Mixed Vegetable & Tofu Wok Garlic, which is pretty much the same thing, but with more vegetables, a few slabs of tofu, and garlic sauce instead of basil sauce. This, while not bad, was less impressive and I don't see myself ever choosing it over the wok basil. When I returned by my lonesome, I ordered the Chicken Rama and was unprepared for what I would soon learn would be a literal mountain of food. Huge pieces of grilled chicken over a massive pile of steamed vegetables under an ocean of peanut sauce and a snowstorm of chopped peanuts. Despite Hive's unappetizing decision to make the dish look like something that a cow with IBS would make, the dish wasn't too bad. At least at first. But by the end I was starting to fall into a food coma and was getting angry at myself for even considering finishing it. Yeah, it was good, but it could have been better. I would recommend ordering it to share and asking for at most half the peanut sauce.
Bro took a desert home, the Fried Banana with Ice Cream. He liked it. I didn't have any.
So, what do I predict for Hive? Oof. To be fair, they're at best a work in progress. The menu is filled with standards instead of original dishes and they aren't necessarily any better than anyone else. Their interior is chipper but bland, they have no liquor license and no desire to be BYOB (I asked). Thus, they're basically relying on take out customers and being cheap to survive. Will that be enough to dissuade people from Thai Pot, Mint's, et al? Time will tell but I would bet that the competition isn't losing any sleep. I were Hive, I'd get a beer list ASAP and find some way to differentiate themselves from the crowd.
Appetizers average $6, entrees range from $9-15.