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May 12, 2008

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Angel Food

May 11, 2008

by Florence Ondré

What could be better than finding a good, new Thai restaurant to add to one’s list of food from the Angels?
The answer tonight is finding that restaurant and two Earth Angels at the table next to us, who also enjoy the Heavenly fragrant dishes from The Land of Smiles.
On our way to our favorite Asian Buffet, “East” out on Rte 110 in Huntington, NY, we were torn between the incredible spread there and an ever lingering hankering for a little something-something from Thailand for dinner.
As we pulled into the parking lot at East, we were met by a mob scene. People lined up from the inside of the cavernous restaurant to outside the door, several deep and barely a parking spot to be had in the wrap around lot.
Hmmmmm. We were glad to see our friends’ establishment doing so well and with hunger pangs on the rise and time growing late, that did it for us.
The question, “To Thai or not to Thai?” was plain handwriting on the wall.
A happy blessing to our friends and a quick punch into the GPS system of the car showed several Thai places in the area which we’d surprisingly not tried yet.
One named Tiny Thai called to us and off we drove to the nearby town of Farmingdale, where on Main St., sure enough, sandwiched in between several ethnic restaurants and stores, was a truly tiny hole in the wall.
We pulled around the corner and I said to Tom, “Go on. You go scope it out. See what the menu has on it and sniff the cooking.”
This is something we frequently do. My motto is, “If it smells good, I’m willing to experiment” and “If the menu has some of my favorites, I’m gonna try the place.”
I have a hard time remembering any Thai restaurant we’ve ever walked out of.”
Tom returned smiling and announced that it smelled good and the menu had variety. Parking was plentiful on street and in the lot behind the restaurant.
Tiny Thai has several tables and is decorated with traditional Thai carvings and pictures. One waits at the door until a table is cleaned off and the one waiter scrambles to get water and your appetizers to you while dropping off a fairly extensive menu of mouth watering selections.
Tables are close together so it’s nearly impossible not to connect with one’s neighbor and this is a good thing, since you get to see what dishes they’re having and inhale the aromas of ginger, basil and lemongrass to help you decide on your choices.
We lucked out with proximity to another couple who were finishing off an aromatic, saucy dish which upon inquiry turned out to be beef salad. They told us they really enjoyed that dish along with the Drunken noodles and vegetables in a red curry sauce and loved the place so much they’d been there the night before too.
Now that’s a rave as far as I’m concerned. 
We ordered an appetizer of chicken satay, which came covered in succulent lemongrass satay marinade with a zippy peanut sauce for dipping. The chicken was generous in portion and moistness. 
Our table neighbors were as good as their word. The beef salad on crisp lettuce with thinly sliced red onion in a piquant sauce of slightly spiced lime juice was delectable. Tender slices of beef, soaking up the sweet-sour juice of the dish practically melted in our mouths and left a delicate hint of spices on the tongue. 
Good beginning.
Next we ordered Tamarind Pad Thai with Thai sausage and gigantic prawns; an interesting twist on a basic dish, robust in a spicy, reddish brown sauce.
Tom’s chicken in yellow curry (also known as Royal curry because it is one of the King’s favorite dishes) satisfied the kick of the meal and a crispy Tamarind duck with cashews, was lusty with meatiness in addition to the perfect crisp of skin. Fresh green beans, carrot slivers and broccoli prettied up the plate and the palate and the accompanying sauce, served on the side, was luscious in fruited sweetness and shallots. A perfect compliment.
The Thai iced tea here was a really good, balanced blend of tea and milk; not too sweet or too bland or bitter, as can sometimes be found elsewhere.
The added delight of the evening was the conversation between tables (literally a handshake away) about this magnificent cuisine gift to the world. 
We talked about our favorite dishes and the ingredients we’d enjoyed and restaurants we’d been to which had impressed. 
It was a “getting to know you” through the language of Angel food; Thai nectar from the Gods.
The smallness of the place, the one waiter who miraculously got everyone served with food that was fragrant and fine, faded into the background to a pleasant visit with amiable new acquaintances.
It is true, as my friend, Susan, the owner of East Buffet restaurant, told me at a round table evening for my birthday at her place, “There is no greater joy than to sit with friends enjoying good food.”
In this my dear Tom and I agree…and the friends can be old, new; long term or freshly met. 
This kind of cuisine I call Angel food has brought many wonderful people from all around the world into our lives on the level playing field of such concoctions as green papaya salad, mee krob, tom kha gai soup, fresh vegetables, curry sauces of red, yellow and green, myriad Mussaman curries and plethoras of Pad Thais.
For Tiny Thai, at 187 Main Street, Farmingdale, NY, 11735, phone, 516-694-3302, we say, “Stretch out your wings. Go! Try it. You’ll like it.”  

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