11:21 PM

1 Station Square
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 520-7714

Jade Eatery & Lounge (referred to from this point forth as simply Jade) was one of the very first restaurants that I reviewed on my illustrious journey into bloggerdom. It was one of the first "trendy" spots to hit Forest Hills, back when Thai food in general and Asian fusion in particular was the peak of what defined trendy dining. Jade took an empty shell that had sat vacant and literally rotting for years and made it a comfy, almost sexy place to go on a nice summer day. Not only did they add outdoor seats, a cocktail lounge, and a Buddha statue to the neighborhood, they were one of the few outer borough OpenTable restaurants. So, given how long it had been since last I gave them a word, it seemed appropriate to revisit the place and see how it's held up over the past eight years.

This particular Tuesday night, Jade was surprisingly crowded. I arrived with Dudeman and Shrink at 8pm. All but a couple of tables outside were taken and the interior was half full. Our waitress was very nice, but overwhelmed by the volume of customers and it showed in the very slow service and incorrectly placed order (note to all wait staff: please buy memo pads. They're cheap and very useful. Staples sells them 3 for $5.). The kitchen was slow too. Appetizers did not all arrive together and the time between ordering and course one, and between course one and course two was significant. "Did they forget about us?" was uttered more than once.

Sitting outside by the brick streets and manicured flora and stoic traditionalism of Station Square is an inherently relaxing experience and far removed from the energy of the interior. Quotes line the walls, the lighting is purple, pop music is playing, and fish swim in the wading pool at Buddha's feet. In the rear is a sexyish lounge that should never have been given a television and a hallway lined with Asian artwork and paintings that are available to purchase. If Jade was in Tribeca, it would be packed to the gills. But it's in Forest Hills, and the family friendly nature of the neighborhood meant that there was a steady stream of elementary school-aged kids running around and gawking at the fish.

Banish from your mind the menu of old. Jade is no longer a Thai restaurant that hints at Asian Fusion, the way is was when they opened. Now they are full on Asian Fusion with only the barest hint of Thai. Sushi rolls take up more than a page of the menu and the entrees are primarily better-plated variants of what you would get from your average Chinese take out spot. Is the food bad? No. Not at all. But is the food great? No. Not at all. It's food for when you're hanging out with friends and want to chill, or food for when you're with people who are hesitant to have anything too ethnic. Think of Jade as a PF Chang's with one location.

We split three appetizers. First, the Chicken Satay, a staple of every Thai restaurant. These were better than most. Usually, the chicken comes out beaten to a pancake, leaving it dried out and fused to the wooden kabob stick. Jade's was moist, hearty, and with a nice charring. The peanut dipping sauce was rich but not overwhelming. We also ordered the Curried Crab Dumplings which were pretty weak. Had someone told me that they were from the frozen food aisle of Stop & Shop, I wouldn't have argued with them. They were fried to a crisp, and while they were far from inedible, they were also far from remarkable. Lastly, we ordered the dish that is a requirement on every Asian fusion menu, the Sushi Pizza. Who doesn't love sushi pizza? Made with tuna, salmon, spicy mayo, tobiko, scallion, and the sauce used on eel rolls, you can't go wrong with this six-inch pie. It's light, tasty, and well worth getting.

For her entree, Shrink ordered the Bulgogi Beef, Jade's take on the popular Korean dish. In it's place, she was given Mongolian Beef, Jade's take on the popular Chinese dish. Again, I reiterate, memo pads are useful. The beef, served with onion and a veritable mountain of scallion, was thinly sliced, tender and heavily coated in a sweet sauce similar to what you would get from Red House. It was good. Everyone liked it and I'd certainly recommend it. It wasn't bulgogi though. Dudeman's entree was easily the weakest of the three. He ordered the Crispy Thai Beef, which came with loads of red and green bell pepper. Yes it tasted good, but they went overboard with the batter. As a result, the "crispy" was emphasized over the "beef". Certainly, I don't know where the Thai part came from. My entree was the Massaman Curry Snapper, two fish fillets over a mix of tofu, eggplant, onion and cabbage in a thick peanut sauce (soup). It was very good and I'd easily easily easily get this again. They went a bit nuts on the volume of sauce, which concealed all of the goodies down below, but throw in some rice and you'll be fine. Every part of the entree was filled with flavor. I highly recommend it.

In the end, Jade gets a thumbs up, but not an enthusiastic thumbs up. The location is great, the space is great, and the service is friendly. The service is also slow and the food is tepid. If you show up expecting anything more than a fun place to hang out in while eating glorified takeout food, then you're kidding yourself.

However, it's a great place to go with friends for big wacky sushi rolls and fruity cocktails (if you're into that kind of thing). It's great if your friends aren't adventurous eaters or if you have kids and have had it just about up to here with going to Friday's. The rear lounge area could be a great place for cocktails if anyone knew that the lounge existed and the cocktail menu was better. The sidewalk seating under the trees is great on a summer day and God knows that this neighborhood needs as much outdoor seating as it can get. If you can appreciate these things, can overlook the slow service, and aren't expecting your tongue to relive its trip to Phuket, you'll enjoy yourself. 

Jade's closest direct competition is MoCA. I would say that MoCA's wins on food, but not by a whole helluva lot.  Jade, however, wins on physical space. Glowing tables and a mirrored ceiling do not beat a koi pond and Station Square view.

Appetizers range average $10, entrees average $18, large rolls average $17.

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