Tastes Of Thailand At
By Peter & Bob/
If youre one of
those people who thinks Thai food is all about heat and spices,
a trip to Thai USA is in order. Cuisine at this small eatery
is authentic Thai, melding flavors that are fresh, exotic
and often fruity. Yes, sometimes theres heat involved,
and Thai USA offers the standard curries and highly spiced
dishes, but its with the more delicate tastes that Thai
USAs kitchen shines.
The restaurant is something of an institution in Huntington,
though if you havent visited in recent years youre
in for a surprise. The restaurants interior was renovated
with the return of Tiki (previously from Bonbori Tiki) two
years ago. Its clean lines feature dark wood and amber tones
accented with woven mat and bamboo, softly illuminated with
backlit rice paper panels. The look is contemporary and calming
a change from the previously drab interior that is
as refreshing as the new menu.
Running the front of the house, Tiki keeps a sharp eye the
dining room, often greeting diners with a warm hello on her
way to set a table or replace a missing napkin at another.
Many have been patrons for years, as a Thai eatery has been
at the location for a quarter century.
Its latest incarnation is refreshing. Tikis ex, Dan,
who presides in the kitchen, learned Thai cooking from his
grandmother. Jeff, who goes by the name of Shrim, has been
cooking with Dan for 15 years. Their dishes tend to awaken
the palate with delicate and complementary combinations of
flavors. Cilantro, lime juice and mango fruit seem to figure
into our favorites, though the chefs are equally adept at
dishes with deeper tones, particularly duck.
The dozen appetizers on the regular menu plus a few more on
the specials board give a good overview of the cooks
The generously filled crispy duck wontons ($7), recently on
the specials board, have a surprising fiery kick thats
cooled by the plum dipping sauce.
Thai dumplings ($7) show off the delicate touch. Tender steamed
dumplings filled with minced chicken and shrimp again are
complemented by a brown dipping sauce and delicate green onion
Blackened tuna is the surprise appetizer in the mix. An herbal
flavor permeates the blacked tuna (market price) appetizer.
Fresh tuna, dredged in spices and pan seared is thin sliced
and served with a spicy Thai sauce. The flavors fall somewhere
between Italian and Cajun with a hint of herbs.
Vegetables play a large part in Thai cooking and Thai USA
excels at salads. Its trademark dish could well be the grilled
shrimp salad ($12) with mango, tomato, onion and lime dressing.
The lime and cilantro dressing brings tang to the mango, and
a hint of cilantro lends freshness. Its topped with
grilled shrimp, but the salad is so delicious it could stand
on its own.
Another salad-y favorite is Larb ($11), a Thai wrap of minced
beef or chicken seasoned with roasted garlic, lemongrass,
scallions, cilantro and onion with Thai lime dressing. The
mix is spooned onto small romaine leaves and eaten much like
a lettuce taco. Its a sophisticated mix of flavors.
On several visits to Thai USA weve made efforts to try
different dishes. However, we continue to gravitate toward
favorites. For the most part, that involves anytime we see
mango and cilantro in the same sentence.
On our recent visit we went for a beef dish Yum Nua
($15) thin slices of tender, marinated steak atop a
salad of cucumber, onion and tomato flavored with lemongrass,
mint, cilantro and lime. Its a perfect summer dish that
wakes up the palate.
We also made good on a promise to ourselves to try the Crispy
Duck ($24). The boneless duck breast was deep, dark and rich
without the fat normally associated with duck dishes. Its
slow roasted with crispy, spiced skin and a sweet plum glaze.
The generous portion can easily be shared. In fact, just try
not sharing it! The price reflects the three-plus hours required
to cook it; every minute of it is worth it. Otherwise, entrées
range from $12 to $16. Entrée selections include the
expected curries with coconut, a predominant flavor.
Among the desserts at Thai USA, the homemade key lime pie
($4) is the standout. There are generally several flavors
of ice cream as well, with ginger being our favorite.
Thai USA is an institution in Huntington. We have yet to be
disappointed and expect that the current incarnation of this
village favorite will be around for a long time.
273 New York Ave.
Cuisine: Authentic Thai dominated by light, healthy
Price Range: Very reasonable
Lunch: Wed-Sun, 12-3 p.m.;
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10:30 p.m.;
Sun 5-10 p.m.