>> Friday, December 16, 2016

110-70 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 575-0983

Just ten minutes earlier, I had been nursing a beer at a nearby bar and told the bartender that I was about to meet a friend dinner at Nine Thai and asked her if she'd ever been there. She made a good-luck-with-that-face before saying "I don't like to speak ill of other businesses." Oh geez. This does not bode well.  I left and walked over, finding Pike standing just inside an all-but-empty room. They didn't seem to know what to do with us. "I don't think they get many visitors," Pike deduced. 

Eventually, someone we assumed was a waiter gave us some menus and showed us to a very wobbly, mildly sticky table. After pointing out that the menus were for lunch, our waiter, an affable guy who seemed genuinely out of his depth even at this particular point in the kiddie pool, laughed at the error and gave us a pair of, let's call them well-loved dinner menus. As we thought about what to order for our meal, the waiter asked us if we'd like something to drink. Pike asked for a Diet Coke. They didn't have any. "It can be Diet Pepsi, I don't really care." Sweatpants explained that the only soda that they have is regular Sprite. "Sprite it is."

Winter is finally in upon us and the soup cravings have begun, so we knew that we had to order a couple bowls of piping hot soup. What could be better? Pike ordered the Tom Yum Soup, a spicy tomato-based soup with lemongrass and vegetables, while I chose the Tom Kha Soup. Pike said that his Tom Yum was decent, if a little bit spicier than he was expecting. He's had better, he's had worse, but it was not bad for what it was. After his tasting sip, Pike put the spoon down. "I'll wait until yours comes." And we waited. Eventually, I told him he didn't have to be polite anymore. "Maybe they only have one pot and have to make every bowl individually."

Before the Tom Yum soup was finished but not before it started to cool, Pike's second course came. He didn't really want an entree in the classical sense, and instead ordered the Thai Boulevard Combo plate. Just to take a step back, when the waiter initially took our order, Pike asked for the combo plate to be his main course and to please bring it out when the entree that I ordered comes to the table. "Oh yeah sure" said our waiter with a tone of voice that implied with certainty that he had absolutely no idea what was just asked of him and, no surprise, the request fell on deaf ears.

The Thai Boulevard Combo is basically an assortment of various items from the appetizer menu. Shrimp rolls, spring rolls, dumplings, and fried wontons along with three dipping sauces. Plum sauce, peanut sauce, and a black vinaigrette - whatever that is, with a hand full of carrot shreds haphazardly tossed on top for what I can only assume is an attempt at a garnish. The combo plate, as one might expect, did not come with any Tom Kha soup. Pike looked at the plate in front of him like this was somehow his fault, hesitant to accept his meal. I told him to eat. "I want to see how this plays out." 

Without beating to death each deep fried gem in the combo, one can sum up the totality of it as forgettable and generic. Pike wasn't impressed with any of them, either. Attempting to tart up an utterly tasteless spring roll up with a little bit of the black vinaigrette goop was a mistake and I nearly gagged.

Eventually, I was brought the appetizer I ordered, the Chicken Curry Puffs (still no soup). Some people order Pad Thai as a litmus test for how good a Thai restaurant is, but I prefer curry puffs. As for these, I've had better. Yeah they were okay, but they were far too greasy, far too bland, and presenting them on a bed of sad wilted lettuce didn't do them any favors in the image department. The menu said that the dish would come with a cucumber sauce (as most curry puffs do), but instead it came with some kind of sweet and sour sauce that was the consistency of ultra thick honey. These mediocre puffs were the best part of the meal.

Still no soup. But hold on, here comes the waiter. Time for some soup! Wait. No... he's putting on his coat and grabbing some bags... and now he's getting on his bicycle and pedaling away. Our waiter was also the delivery guy. "You know," Pike began as our waiter faded off to the horizon, "you might have gotten your food faster if you were still at home."

The waiter was replaced with a very apologetic woman who said "sorry" between every third word. She was far more attentive and even brought me my soup. "Would you like anything to drink?" Do you have any Diet Coke? "Sure, I'll go get some." And, credit where credit is due, she put on her coat and was about to run over to 7-Eleven to score us a six pack before Pike stopped her. As for the soup? Skip it.

Tom Kha Soup is a coconut milk soup with, in my case chicken and vegetables and normally I love it. Normally. This simply wasn't good. The broth was so sweet that it was hard to take down. It was almost a syrup. Meanwhile, the chicken was extremely tough and rubbery and the number of vegetables were a pittance. It was all but a bowl of ultra-sweet milk.

I wasn't looking forward to my entree anymore. The poor Beef Pad Kee Mow, aka drunken noodles, was following an unbroken stream of disappointment and, like its brethren, maintained that tradition to the best of its ability. The dish was gloppy and gelatinous and verged on slimy. I love spicy food, but here, it was almost as though hot peppers were the surrogates for flavor. I'm the kind of guy who gets extra hot sauce at the halal truck and this was hot even for me. The beef was practically inedible. The pieces that I had were like chewing into a Pink Pearl eraser; the chunk Pike got was literally just sinew and had to be spat out. I didn't get more than a few bites out of this.

Our grand feast, after tax and tip, cost $60. Don't ask me how. As we headed out the door, the waiter returned. Round trip delivery time: 36 minutes. 

Perhaps one could chalk up this comedy of errors to growing pains, but since this is the new location and new name of the old Thai Boulevard, that doesn't hold water. Forest Hills has a goodly sum of decent Thai restaurants to both eat at and order from and I don't predict returning in either case.


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