When my friends over at Thai Pavilion in Astoria invited me to try some of the restaurant's authentic cuisine, I was excited yet unsure what to expect. Now, I love spicy food, but I'll admit my knowledge of Thai food doesn't go much further than the mediocre pad thai from my nearest takeout spot.

Not only are the owners (and head chef) at Thai Pavilion knowledgeable, but they're also seriously the nicest, most hardworking people you'll ever meet. I think I sat at the restaurant for a full two hours laughing and enjoying each and every dish.

I'll just jump right in to my favorite: Hoy-Ob-Mor-Din or Thai Style Mussels. The fresh mussels were steamed with Thai fine herbs and lemongrass, and served with a spicy lemon sauce. The lemongrass broth was soothing and bright, while the spicy lemon sauce added just the right amount of kick. Each mussel was tender and not too chewy or overly fishy.

The Larb Gai was a wonderful new take on the traditional chicken salad. The grounded chicken with onions, chili, scallions, mint and lime juice was served over a bed of lettuce. The dish can be made as spicy (or not spicy) as you'd like. With almost an undertone of licorice, this plate was flavorful in ways no American chicken salad with mayo could ever be.
And the food just kept on coming. The mixed appetizer plate they put together for me was a great way to taste a little of everything. The Steamed Thai Dumplings were not like any dumpling I've ever had before (and I love my dumplings!). Stuffed with finely grounded chicken, peanuts and preserved radish, each dumpling was earthy and textured—especially with crispy shallots sprinkled on top.

I'm normally not an egg roll fan, but the Thai Egg Roll was pretty delicious. Glass noodles wrapped with egg roll skin were stuffed with sauteed white cabbage and bamboo shoots, making this egg roll so much better than the bland vegetable stuffed junk you get at other takeout places. The plum sauce drizzled on top was the perfect addition.

The Shrimp Wrapped in Phyllo Dough was simple but fun. I loved dipping them into the spicy lemon sauce from the mussels.
Drunken Noodles might just be my new go-to dish. The stir-fried flat noodles with chili pepper, basil, onions and chicken were surprisingly light with a wonderful creeping heat.
This Shrimp Pad Thai was nothing like any pad thai I've ever had anywhere else. Even the day-old leftovers were better.The stir-fried rice noodles with bean curd, ground peanuts, egg and bean sprouts were crunchy, smooth and oh-so-nutty. You just need to go try it. Seriously. Like now.
Although I didn't have much room left, I'm glad I took a few bites of the Whole Fish with Tamarind Sauce. The Chilean sea bass was flaky and light, while the tamarind sauce brought a tanginess to the dish. The side of Shrimp Curry was pretty delicious, too.

Needless to say, if you love Thai food (or even if you don't) make your way to Thai Pavilion in Astoria. They'll treat you right, feed you good, and make sure you've got lots of leftovers to relive the experience all over again at home.


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