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Foraga: Forest Hills’ Foraga marks first for Indo Thai

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FORAGA

107-04 70th Road, Forest Hills

263-8883

Whether or not you have ever tried Thai food, dining at Foraga in Forest Hills will introduce you to fusion Thai - Indo Thai to be exact.

There are a number of Thai restaurants in Queens (the French influence that it embraces has proved popular). But for Indo Thai, Foraga is a first. Thai food uses lots of fish sauce, ever popular in Southeast Asia, and cilantro for seasoning. Indo Thai is said to be lighter, fresher and more creative.

This was our first experience with Indo Thai. We liked the setting - there was seating outdoors with bright red chairs and tables. Inside, more white and red, minimalistic, with tiny, chic ceiling lights, high up, of indigo glass.

We're seated at a table for two along the wall. (The bar is in a square room unto itself.) Our table had one small candle.

We had difficulty, great difficulty, in deciphering the menu, all in italics. Though it was once "in" for a restaurant to be dark and sultry, it's been a long time since I struggled to comprehend a menu, and I had forgotten how frustrating it can be. I had taken along last year's Take Out Connection Restaurant Delivery Service where I marked off choices. Forget it. The menu had changed to accommodate their customers' desires (- it takes time to introduce a new cuisine to a neighborhood).

Indo Thai food can be creative! Case in point: My companion ordered Brie scallops as an entree, jumbo sea scallops with shitaki mushrooms and fresh greens on top of jasmine rice, then baked in a small casserole topped with thick slices of herb and garlic Brie cheese. This is an item you'd find in a Thai restaurant in Paris. Thinner slices of brie would make the dish more New Yorker friendly. Foraga's scallops in a lemon caper sauce, which seems more suited to us, is deservedly popular.

Her appetizer, I thought, was the best dish of the evening: Yaki - Soba with beef presented on a large, translucent, green glass plate. Glass-like noodles were tossed with bits of beef and shavings, the thinnest ever, of cabbage. Delicate. A delight.

Gold Bag was my appetizer selection. I recalled the caviar purses, tied with a strand of chive, served with fanfare at the Quilted Giraffe, then photographed as you held it before your eager lips. (And at Foraga, there's a silver bag too, steamed mixed shrimp and chicken dumplings served with light soy ginger sauce.)

The presentation was lovely: a square, inch-high basket with five deep fried golden dumplings and a soy ginger sauce for dipping. A waiter passed by with a similar presentation of cigarette-shaped crab rolls.

If you so desire, the French influence can be tasted in escargot sauteed in a creamy garlic butter sauce or spicy garlic, basil sauce with a touch of soy sauce.

I chose ginger beef for nostalgia's sake. During my years at Good Housekeeping, I featured it often in the executive dining room. There the sauce had a ginger flavor. Here the sauce was thicker, more Chinese and the ginger didn't come through until the last few bites. I preferred the sticky rice accompaniment. GH's then was undoubtedly Carolina or Uncle Ben's.

Thai desserts are often based on sticky rice and tend to be very sweet, Therefore, at Foraga desserts found in restaurants in Thailand - chocolate mousse cake, midnight chocolate layer cake, fruit tart, apple crumb and green tea ice cream- - are served. For me, green tea ice cream is the most compatible with Thai food. Or I would happily settle for a glass of the distinctive Thai iced coffee, but it was unavailable that evening. So I forked into black and white mousse cake, two layers, one black one white. It tasted very much like butter cream to me.

All in all, I feel we could have chosen from the menu more wisely. I'd like to return to Foraga - with a flashlight.

The pre fix dinner served until 7:30 includes soup, salad, appetizer, choice of entree (chicken with spicy garlic sauce, grilled salmon filet with mixed vegetables, ribeye steak, vegetable pasta, yahki-soba with beef, seafood pasta, and banana fish) coffee, tea and dessert.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Indo-Thai cuisine. Creative. Early bird dinner (before 7:30 p.m.) with soup, salad, choice of appetizer, choice of entree, dessert and coffee. Young wait staff. Red and white setting. Bar in separate room. Outdoor dining.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Seared Tuna...$9.50

Grilled Shrimp with Garlic (grilled jumbo shrimp with spicy dipping sauce)...$6

Scallops in Lemon Caper Sauce ...$15

Seafood Spaghetti (sauteed spaghetti with shrimp, scallops, crab and mixed vegetables in sesame oil)...$13

Saigon Chicken (tender white meat chicken sauteed in white wine, basil, tomato sauce)...$13

Black and White Mousse Cake

Midnight Chocolate Layer Cake

Food: Indo-Thai

Setting: Mod. Red outdoors (sidewalk

cafe) and red and white indoors

Service: Young staff

Hours: L Mon. to Sat. D 7 days

Reservations: Yes

Location: Between Queens Boulevard

and Ascan Avenue

Parking: Street. Two-hour validation

Dress: Casual

Credit cards: All major

Children: Share

Takeout: Yes, and Takeout

Connection delivery

Off premise catering: Yes

Private parties: To 60

Smoking: Bar and sidewalk cafe

Noise level: Moderate

Handicapped access: Yes

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