By Tes Silverman
If you’re looking to dine at an authentic Thai restaurant, Thai USA is the one to try. Located on New York Avenue in Huntington village, one can’t miss the giant statue of an elephant in front of the restaurant.
By contrast, the interior is illumined by soft colors on the walls and dimly lit light fixtures, giving it a relaxing vibe. Tiki Choladda has owned the place since 1996, and she is the first person you encounter when you walk in. Choladda’s easy-going personality endears her to patrons. She has been known to whisk away the youngest patrons and play games with them to give parents some time to relax.
This easy-going atmosphere comes through from the servers as well, and the cuisine reflects the same sentiment. The meal you order may seem heavy at first glance, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to experience how light, savory and colorful each dish is prepared by Chef Dhanit Choladda.
To start you on your Thai culinary journey, appetizers such as tao hoo tod (crispy tofu served with crushed peanut dipping sauce, $6.50), po pia sod (shrimp, tofu, sprout, cucumber, wrapped in rice paper, brushed with plum sauce, $7) and gai satay (marinated chicken, grilled on skewers and served with peanut sauce, $7) are ones to try. The tofu appetizer is crispy but not oily, and grilled chicken is tender and prepared well. The peanut sauce is not too sweet and is great for dipping these appetizers or anything else. The peanut sauce is so popular that Choladda sells it.
If you want something that’s healthy and delicious, the calamari salad (green salad with crispy calamari, ginger, mango and peanut with lime dressing, $8.50) is a good option. The calamari is lightly battered and combined with mango, peanuts and lime dressing, creating sweet and sour flavors while still being a light salad.
For entree options, try the choo chee shrimp (with mixed vegetables, kaffir lime leaves, panang curry, served in fresh young coconut, $17.50) and ped ob grob (crispy boneless Long Island duck with purple plum, chili, mint and ginger sauce, $26). The presentation of the shrimp in a young coconut, along with the flavors of panang curry and lime leaves makes this a great dish filled with complex flavors. The boneless duck is crispy, but not oily, and adding the purple plum, chili, mint and ginger sauce highlights the duck’s rich flavors.
If you want side dishes to complement your entree, pick the coconut rice or sticky rice.
And for a drink, the Thai ice tea ($3) is refreshing and good for those looking for a something sweet.
Save room for dessert because the housemade key lime pie ($4.50) is delicious. Neither the tartness nor the sweetness are overpowering, so one can savor the creaminess of the pie.
Thai USA’s attraction can be attributed to the savory dishes that are prepared, but a lot can be said for the welcoming manner Choladda and her daughter, Pathra, treat their patrons.
“I want every diner to leave here full, happy and with a smile,” Choladda said.
So if you’re looking to dine on dishes that will delight your tastebuds as well as your sight, then Thai USA should be your next stop. Who knows, you may even get a virtual night out from your kids if Choladda is around to play with them.
273 New York Ave.
Hours: Monday-Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 5-10:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday 12-10:30 p.m.; Sunday 5-10 p.m.