2012-06-20 / Restaurant of the Week


Bangkok, 1942. A man named Leng opened his first restaurant cooking traditional Thai dishes for the locals. Over the years, these cherished recipes were perfected and ultimately brought to America, more specifically to Astoria, for the locals here to enjoy. Today, the Siricharoen family welcomes you and we are fortunate to have such a wonderful history of exotic Thai and Asian cuisine at our fingertips. Your dining experience begins as you escape your day to day routine and enter the serene, temple-like atmosphere of LENG. Warm, sleek wooden floors and stone walls are offset with wood and leather banquettes outfitted with colorful Thai pillows. Original artwork from Thailand adorns the walls and the entire restaurant has a warm glow of lighting, even the zen-like bathrooms. There are three separate dining areas; the one up front as described, the rear dining room with stone floors and walls lit by decorative fixtures, and the outdoor garden, for warm weather dining. If you know anything about the Thai people, it is that they are known for their hospitality and kindness. This is clearly evident in the service you'll receive at Leng and the food is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Start with a glass of wine, frosty Thai beer or one of their beautifully crafted cocktails. Our hostess suggested a popular cocktail called a "Sakejito" which is a mojito made with sake, mulled lime and lots of fresh mint, making it the perfect summer drink. My friend enjoying Asian red sangria, mixed with plum wine and tropical fruit. The "Pommemosa" is made with pomegranate juice and champagne, for a twist on the classic Mimosa.

Thai cuisine is like no other, and known for the combination of three flavors: sweet, savory and sour. Fresh vegetables, meats, poultry and noodles are combined with all three elements, along with "heat" from chilis and curries in some dishes. If you've never tried it, you should, here at Leng.

The efficient waiter brought a gorgeous selection of appetizers, served steaming hot and gleaming on white platters. The chicken satays were impossibly tender, cooked just right and served with peanut sauce and special cucumber relish for dipping ($6). Other appetizers from the grill include tender calamari, grilled tofu, vegetables and marinated pork. Share a basket of tender, steamed dumplings, filled with either shrimp or vegetables with the accompanying dipping sauce ($6). Delicate spring rolls are light and crisp, filled with either vegetables, shrimp or shredded duck with special hoisin sauce. Thai salads are unique, composed of fresh ingredients that include vegetables, fruit and meat. We shared a shredded mango salad with avocado, red onion and roasted coconut in lime vinaigrette dressing ($8). Some salads are more like a meal, such as the crispy duck salad with red onion, pineapple and peanuts. The soups are amazing too, such as the hot and spicy lemongrass soup with shrimp, mushrooms and kefir lime leaves.

The list of entrees offers something for everyone, including meats, seafood, fish, vegetables, rice and noodle dishes. Spicy dishes are marked and all dishes can be adjusted to your liking. Our mild dish of chicken with cashew nuts, onions and scallions was tender and delicious. To complement those mild flavors, we shared a spicier dish of red curry shrimp, cooked with fresh squid, plump scallops and red and green peppers in a delicious, coconut sauce that is meant to be spooned over the white rice that accompanies this dish ($18). Keep it light with the fresh fish of the day, steamed in a basket with your choice of ginger, soy sauce or chili, garlic, lime sauce. Salmon steak is prepared with vegetables and spicy red panang curry coconut sauce. Next time I'll try the crispy, boneless duck glazed with soy, ginger and tamarind sauce ($15). Meat lovers will enjoy the sirloin steak with lemongrass sauce, or the baby back ribs, grilled to perfection with hoisin sauce, served with sticky rice. You'll even find Korean style beef with sesame ginger, served with kimchi.

The most famous noodle dish in Thai cuisine is Pad Thai, made with rice noodles sautéed with shrimp, egg, peanuts, bean sprouts and scallions. This dish can be adjusted for vegetarians, or they may choose any other noodle or rice dish with vegetables only. Another popular noodle dish is called "Kee Mao Talay" and combines mixed seafood with chili, garlic, thai basil and Cantonese style noodles ($12).

Side orders of brown rice, traditional sticky rice, sautéed greens or scallion pancakes are great for sharing.

Though you'll be very full, please share one of their wonderful desserts, with kudos for the fried banana, served with green tea ice cream and red bean ice cream for a fantastic combination of flavors and textures that cools off your palate. There is also sweet sticky rice, sweetened with condensed milk, and Western style red velvet cake and chocolate mousse cake.

Leng is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Lunch specials cost just $8, served with house salad or soup of the day, plus entrée. They offer free delivery to your home or office, but for a real dining treat, unwind and relax in the serene dining rooms at Leng. Delicious Thai cuisine, hospitable service, inviting atmosphere and good prices all combine to make Leng a great place to visit, again and again. To the Siricharoen family, I say "Khob Khun Mak Mak", which means "thank you very much".

33-09 Broadway  Astoria


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