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Dining Out: Simply Thai

Simply Thai

118-16 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills

Phone: 575-0983

Fax: 380-2271

Leave it to the ladies, three ladies. Actually, three Thai ladies. Ten years ago, the three Kitaya sisters, opened a small Thai restaurant on Queens Boulevard a block from the court house. And, ten years ago opening a Thai restaurant in Forest Hills, on the main drag, was avant garde. Not that many palates had turned to Southeast Asia. Thai food was yet to be discovered.

When we lunched there last Tuesday, it was SRO. The long, slim restaurant is simply but pleasantly decorated. Pictures made from silver and gold and black thread hang on the wall. They depict the elephant that in years past was the Thai way to get places. Fabric tablecloths, whose design changes frequently, deck the tables.

Here, a combination luncheon is an unbelievable $5.50 with a glass of wine or soda.

And it was delicious! Taste this: A choice of soup or salad. My dining companion had a savory wonton noodle soup with flecks of cilantro which in her opinion boosted its rating to an A.

I was particularly enthusiastic about the house salad at Simply Thai. The subtle peanut-flavored dressing did it for me. The main course arrives with a mini spring roll and bowl of fried rice. The spring roll is well-prepared (grease-free in my estimation) with a hint of sweetness. The fried rice is like no other we've encountered. It appeared to be a tan rice and no more, but with just one forkful, you'll taste its artful seasoning. It's so popular that it's named after Linda, one of the three sisters, who prepares it. Chef Linda's fried rice may in fact be ordered as its own main dish topped with garlic pork and Thai sausage.

From the 20 entrees listed on Simply Thai's menu, we chose a delicious entree of dried chili peppers with shrimp and cashews. It is listed on the menu with one asterisk denoting a "mildly spicy" meal. Thai food can be very spicy but at Simply Thai they'll go light on the spices unless they get a special cue from you.

Pad Thai noodles is the famous Thai dish of delicate rice noodles sauteed with shrimp, chicken, egg, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts and very nice, it is. We enjoyed our lunch combination meal so thoroughly that I ordered take-out from the dinner menu (which is also available at luncheon.) Appetizers at Simply Thai include several highlights: cold sesame noodles (buckwheat noodles topped with shredded cucumber and peanut sauce); a fancy salad of Thai sausage seasoned with onions, cucumbers, chili peppers and lime juice; and chicken and mushroom stuffed shrimp modestly wrapped in egg roll skins, deep fried and served with a plum sauce. Here, the plum sauce is delicate and very appealing.

Needless to say, I also fell for Simply Thai's 'drunken noodles.'Although I never learned the origin of the name, they are delicate, pan-fried flat noodles with basil leaves, onions, chili peppers with beef, chicken, pork or shrimp. The noodles were delightful and my beef version couldn't have been tastier. The green curry, also on the luncheon menu, was intriguing: It serves up slivered bamboo shoots with a pale, coconut milk curry and bits of chicken. It's delicate and delicious.

The seafood soup is a spicy, hot and sour broth with calamari and part of a crab, claw and all, and those tiny Asian beloved ears of corn slit lengthwise. Rice is included gratis with take-out orders but not eat-in. Note the large selection of vegetable entrees: veggie and Thai noodles; fried rice; curry, green or yellow; as well as tofu and garlic tofu.

And perchance you, too, will observe this phenomena: Men at different tables eating with their ties flung over their right shoulders.

The Bottom Line

Ten-year-old Thai restaurant. Long and narrow. Special lunch combination for $5.50, includes: soup or salad, spring roll, fried rice, entree (choice of 20), glass of wine or soda. Pleasant service. Impressive dessert and a vegetable-lovers list. Serving options include: mild, hot and spicy or very hot and spicy food.

Chefs' Choice

Thai Spring Roll (silver noodles, cabbage, carrot and mushroom deep fried in egg roll skin)... $4.75

Sate Chicken or Beef (marinated in coconut milk with curry powder, grilled and served with peanut sauce and cucumber sauce)...$7.50

Calamari (deep fried, lightly breaded squid served with spicy sauce) ...$5.50

Linda's Fried Rice (our special chicken fried rice topped with delicious garlic pork and Thai sausage)...$7.95

Spicy Veggie Fried Rice (rice with chili peppers, basil leaves, onions and mixed vegetables)...$6.95

Simply Thai Chicken (spicy chicken breast with peanut sauce over spinach. Also prepared with shrimp)...$8.75

Food: Thai (mild, "hot & spicy," or "very hot & spicy")

Setting: Simple but pleasant

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Street. Garage close by

Credit cards: All major. No Discover.

Take-out: Yes

Noise level: Quiet

Handicap access: Yes

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