Big Thailand taste by way of Bayside

The grilled striped bass served at BKNY in Bayside. Photo by Suzanne Parker
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BKNY Thai looks less like a quality restaurant, than it does a slightly disreputable nightclub. The view from the parking lot is overseen by a colorful graffiti-style mural of Bangkok. The dim, cavernous interior is dominated by a large u-shaped bar with plenty of large TVs. We came early, and wondered when the real party animals arrive.

But looks can be deceiving. BKNY serves some high-quality Thai fare that precisely hits the sweet spot between authenticity and universal appeal. Hardcore foodies will find plenty of adventure, while culinary wimps will not be left cowering in the back of their booth.

The menu is lengthy here, with multiple categories of small and large plates. Our server, a young Thai woman who spoke perfect English, offered guidance. After we tried her spectacular suggestion for our appetizer, we went with her suggestions for the courses that followed, with equally rewarding results. She steered us to the BBQ beef short ribs, and the crab cake, two decidedly un-Thai-ish sounding dishes that we might otherwise have bypassed. Meat-lovers, and even meat-likers will swoon over the short ribs. Never mind that this generous heap of beef comes naked on the plate, accompanied only by a separate allotment of sweet chili sauce. The melt-in-your-mouth tender beef is charred on the outside and juicy rare within. While the sauce is excellent, the lush meat is what is memorable.

The short ribs are hard to top, but the crab cake is in the running. It is one nicely seared hockey puck-sized cake, loaded with pieces of Thai-spiced real jumbo crab in a background that somehow manages to be custardy. The zippy Thai mayo adds extra personality to this Thai take on a crowd pleasing dish.

“Dazzling Thai Salad” may be a hyperbole-laden moniker for a salad, but it is a good salad. The salad, a mix of bean sprouts, red onion, tomatoes and cukes is made interesting by some fried tofu. The dressing is that Thai peanut dressing that you can’t help but love.

The banana leaves on the “Grilled Striped Bass in Banana Leaves” don’t make an appearance on the plate, but keep the fish wonderfully moist. The bass is stuffed with aromatic Southeast Asian ingredients like lemongrass and galangal that infuse the flesh with a wonderfully exotic flavor. The spicy lime sauce provided only amplifies the wonderful flavors.

Tri-Flavor Baby Back Ribs combines the succulence of expertly prepared ribs with the exotic flavors of the East. The essence of Thai cuisine to meld sweet, salty, bitter, sour and hot harmoniously into one dish. These ribs do it all. If we wanted to quibble, we could say that they could have found something more appealing to present the sticky rice in than Saran wrap, but deliciousness trumps presentation in our book.

If you’ve got any room for dessert, their signature is fried bananas with ice cream. Bananas are folded into flat dough packages and deep fried and served with a choice of coconut or green tea ice cream. The result is predictably crunchy and custardy contrasted with cold and sweet.

The Bottom Line

BKNY is an acronym for Bangkok New York, in case you didn’t get it. Their website asks you to “experience the flavors of Bangkok in New York, minus the 17 hour flight.” They succeed admirably in fulfilling that promise.

Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.” She can be reached by e-mail at qnsfoodie@aol.com.

BKNY Thai Restaurant

47-11 Francis Lewis Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361

(718) 281-1900


Price Range: Appetizers $5-12, Entrees: $13-26

Cuisine: Thai slightly tweaked for Western sensibilities.

Setting: Large, nightclub-ish

Service: Friendly, efficient.

Hours: 7 days a week 11:30am-11pm

Reservations: Optional

Alcohol: Full bar

Parking: Lot in rear

Dress: Casual

Children: Welcome

Music: Recorded

Takeout: Yes

Credit cards: Yes

Noise level: Acceptable

Handicap accessible: Yes


Updated 1:45 pm, June 14, 2012
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Reader feedback

Luc from Bayside says:
Been going to this restaurant since it first open its doors. One of the best Thai food I've had since Bangkok
June 25, 2012, 4:58 pm

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