Located just outside of the center of the heart of the village is a restaurant in Huntington that has quietly gone about its business for close to 15 years. Thai USA, on northern New York Avenue towards the harbor, has built upon its reputation with a superb selection of dishes, solid service, and a few new changes to its décor.
Under the management team of veteran restaurateurs Tiki and Dhanit Choladda, Thai USA has become a mainstay for many Huntington residents, and for many who come from out-of-town looking for good Thai food.
After several years managing Bonbori, Tiki Choladda has come back to restaurant, and was the force behind renovating the interior look to its current modern dark wood paneling with Thai-styled ambiance.
Even the menu looks different. Choladda created one that has Thai history on the back, and common Siamese greetings translated to and from English as well.
For starters, I ordered some Tao Hoo Tod – crispy tofu with crushed peanut dipping sauce – and with it, a traditional Thai beer, Singha. I've enjoyed many of the tofu-inspired dishes served at Thai USA in the past, and tonight was no exception. The crispiness of the outside tofu is brings a flavorful contrast to the soft inside.
The dinner menu is well-balanced between various choices in curries, rice and noodle dishes, poultry, seafood, and beef. On previous visits, I have enjoyed the Gai Satay – grilled marinated chicken skewers, served with peanut sauce; and the Kao Pad Gai, which is Thai fried rice with chicken, tomato, onions, and garlic. The menu is balanced enough to give most everyone a variety of choices, according to palate.
I decided to try a dish I hadn't discovered before: the Nua Yang, which is grilled New York sirloin coated with crushed peppers. It comes with mixed vegetables, and one of my favorites, sticky rice. (Sticky rice gets its name by how it is prepared. It is cooked by soaking for several hours, and then left to steam in a bamboo pot, known as a huat. It is then kneaded into balls of rice that stick to themselves, but not to one's fingers. ) It came to the table looking like a steak dinner you'd find in any traditional American restaurant, but the tastes are definitely eastern. The Nua Yang is served with a pungent Thai lime sauce, which took a moment to get used to. But within a few bites, it seemed to work well with the beef.
For those who need their Pad Thai fix early in the day, Thai USA has also been open for lunch for awhile, between 12 – 3pm, Wednesdays through Sundays. A take-out menu is also available for both lunch and dinner.
Choladda's has one particular recommendations. "Try our Choo Chee. This is a mix of shrimp, vegetables kaffir lime leaves, panang curry, and it's served in coconut."
She said she sees a bright future for Huntington restaurants in general. "I see business is bouncing back a bit. Since I have come back to Thai USA, I've seen a lot of families start to come back to the restaurant."
I finished off my dinner with a traditional Thai coffee, which comes with condensed milk.
I think Thai USA will continue to be a hit with Huntington residents, largely in part to Choladda's service, grace, and ability to make people feel welcome in her establishment.
Thai USA is located at 273 New York Avenue – a block and a half north of Main Street, next to the Chase Bank. They have no website, but their phone number is (631) 427-8464.