We had dinner at Benjamas - Taste of Thai (34-16 Broadway Tel: 718-932-8826) last night and were very pleasantly surprised by the menu, decor and service.
We ordered the summer roll and it was exceptionally fresh and the tamarind dipping sauce it was served with was spicy and not too sweet. It was a perfect compliment to the roll's mint and basil. Also had the Som Tum salad of shredded green papaya, with chili, tomatoes, long beans, shrimps, peanuts, lime juice and sticky rice crouton. It was the freshest and best papaya salad I have ever had. The ingredients were blended very well and the salad was not too spicy or too sweet. Selected one of the Chef Chai specials as an entree. It was the Thai Herbs Tiger Shrimp that were huge grilled shrimp (probably prawns) that were stuffed with herbs, bay scallops, crab meat and served with a spicy garlic sauce. The presentation on all the dishes was very appealing but this dish was a knockout. It came out on a huge square plate with the shrimps being butterflied and stuffed with the heads and tails still attached served atop a bed of sautéed vegetables and fried noodles. My husband and I were not sure if we would like the food so we shared everything.
The restaurant is decorated in a very colorful style with touches of Thai flare like decorative pillows and statues. The waiters were very attentive and polite. We mentioned how pleased we were with the food, quality of ingredients and plating. It is what we would expect at a more expensive restaurant. The owner overheard and came over to speak with us and explained that she and her husband worked at the famous Benjamas Restaurant in Thailand and had developed their plating and cooking skills there. It clearly showed in our selections that these folks are way ahead of the other restaurants in Astoria that are just serving Pad Thai mounded on a plate.
We often would go to Williamsburg to Chai, Amarin, Sea or Planet Thailand for our fill of Thai food but are thrilled that this is right in our backyard. I urge you to try this place as you will not be disappointed.