Ambala Sweet & Bakery Chat House
Corner of 72nd and 37th
Jackson Heights, Queens
This is progress.
It’s nothing you’d take transportation for, but for anyone within walking distance it’s a branch of basil fallen from heaven. The floor plan is 80 percent supermarket with the remainder a small take-out shed. Inside the prepared food area, there is one table and 4 chairs, one steam table and one deli-style glass fridge that takes up half the room. It’s the first casual take-out of Thai food I’ve seen like this. I love it.
These dishes are complex. This isn’t the type of food that can typically be prepared in the lapse between your order and its plating. It’s homestyle, even occasionally produced in the chef’s own home if the ingredients can’t be found in the other side of the building. It’s the closest thing to the food served at the Thai temple that I’ve experienced.
The woman that serves you is also the chef. Lovely, caring and from Bangkok. She’s a little hard to understand and I don’t know the names of most Thai dishes by sight, so I won’t be able to tell you what I had other than pad thai, green curry, massaman and red curry; but I do have pictures….
The spice quotient varies, so this would make great Thai for a beginner. Some options are spicy though, which when you point to it she will warn you in a competitive way, because, as opposed to most Thai in the area, about half of the curries are water based. The selections are surprisingly diverse, with about 15 dishes in rotation. I cannot find a pattern, though she uses chicken, tofu, pumpkin and fish as protein elements (they are halal). All of these are swimming in the curries, absorbing the flavors before you enter. And for an appetizer, the vegetarian samosas are buttery and have a definite kick. Probably the kickiest thing on the menu. These are excellent.
If you feel inspired to cook, you can visit the market next door. Inside are all the spices you may need to create these dishes. I am sure the chef would love to help you if you asked her how you can make your own. You’d just have to walk outside to enter the the market, while she’d go through her own private doorway.
This is also the cheapest lunch in the area. $4.50 for three items and rice. 3 samosas for $1. This is how we eat like Queens. I’ve been eating here so much in the past month that I am concerned I might tire of it. Sorry Fiesta Grill, sorry Ayada, sorry taco trucks. I got a new best friend.