2014-08-06 / Restaurant of the Week

Leng Thai

Now is the best time to visit Leng Thai on Broadway, while you can enjoy their lovely outdoor patio. Summer breezes waft through the bamboo trees and across the wood plank patio while you dine like a king or queen on Leng Thai’s legendary, authentic cuisine. The tradition began in Bangkok in 1942 when a man named Leng Siricharoen opened his first restaurant cooking traditional Thai dishes for the locals. Queens residents can delight in these timehonored recipes, as well as a few other Asian dishes from China and Korea, accompanied by refreshing Thai beer, cocktails, and be lavished with friendly service from the smiling staff.

Whether you come in for their fabulous lunch special ($8), a sumptuous Thai dinner, or weekend brunch, you’ll have an excellent meal at a fair price. You can even have your Thai food delivered to your home or office.

Nang, manager, and the staff will greet you warmly as you enter the cozy dining room with wood and leather banquettes outfitted with colorful Thai pillows. An inner dining room resembles a Buddhist temple with soft lighting from woven light fixtures and serene artwork from Thailand adorning the walls. While you peruse the list of tantalizing appetizers at Leng Thai, you can sip on one of their refreshing cocktails made with wine and sake, such as a “Sakejito” which is a mojito made with sake, mulled lime and lots of fresh mint, making it the perfect summer drink. The “Pommemosa” is made with pomegranate juice and champagne, freshly mixed sangria, and both red and white wine is served in lovely carafes. Of course, frosty Thai beer is a favorite with the locals here.

My friend and I started with pung sai woo, or Asian style steamed pork buns. These warm, tender buns are filled with slices of succulent grilled pork, Asian slaw and hoisin sauce for flavor ($8). Most people are familiar with chicken and beef satays on skewers and Leng’s are so tender, served with peanut sauce and special cucumber relish for dipping ($7). Other appetizers from the grill include tender calamari, grilled tofu, vegetables and marinated pork. Tender steamed dumplings filled with vegetables or shrimp are served in a bamboo basket with dipping sauce. Vietnamese ravioli are actually steamed rice noodle crepes filled with ground chicken, jicama and shiitake mushrooms and mild seasonings, served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce ($8). Delicate spring rolls are impossibly light and filled with vegetables, shrimp or savory duck. We shared son tum, a refreshing salad made with julienne papaya, tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts in a citrusy lime dressing.

Other salads include the irresistible 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.

Leng Thai offers plenty of options in meat dishes, vegetable dishes, fish and seafood and noodle dishes, so all diners can be accommodated. It’s not all “hot” but it’s always delicious, and the spicier menu items are marked accordingly. The chef at Leng Thai will happily cook to your liking. Their fresh fish is incredibly good and so we had a whole striped bass cooked for us in a chili, lime, and garlic sauce, though ginger soy sauce is another option. I enjoyed the spicy, citrusy sauce spooned over jasmine rice, and the fish was supremely fresh, simply falling away from the bone with a nudge from the fork. Two to three people could easily share this whole fish. Another impressive fish dish fresh off the grill is called Talay pan, with three skewers laced with fillet of salmon, grilled jumbo shrimp, plump scallops and either mild ginger sauce or spicy chili garlic sauce, as you prefer

($19). Massaman coconut curry sauce is cooked with shrimp, avocado, potato, onions and cashews and has a mildly sweet flavor, perfect over the white rice that accompanies this dish. Another Leng favorite is the crispy, boneless duck glazed with soy, ginger and tamarind sauce ($15). If you like beef try 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 called Jap chae sauteed with vegetables, noodles and soy sesame sauce.

Leng Thai’s Pad Thai, is a great version of this standby dish, 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 Sen mee, made with rice vermicelli, crispy onions, peanuts, and mixed greens in garlic sauce, another meatless option. The sautéed brown rice dish called Khao pad sapparod is made with tender chicken, onions, carrots, scallions and pineapple for a hearty dish with many levels of flavor and texture.

Try to save room to share some coconut, green tea, or red bean ice cream, mango sticky rice, decadent fried bananas and ice cream, taro custard, or an Asian banana split that is perfect for sharing.

Leng is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Lunch specials are served from 11:30 a.m.to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday and cost just $8, served with house salad or soup of the day, plus entrée. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and includes your meal and drinks for $19.99.

You may have Leng Thai’s delicious food delivered to your home or office, but while the weather is warm, enjoy dining on the patio outside and be warmly welcomed by the smiling staff with Sawadee-kah.

33-09 Broadway, Astoria  718.956.7117

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