Posted by: Orlick | November 4, 2010

Ambala Thai – NYC Thai steam table

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.

ambala thai (7)

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….

ambala (3)

ambala (6)

ambala thai (4)

ambala thai (2)

ambala thai (3)

ambala thai (6)

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.

ambala (8)

ambala (7)


They cover all their bases with the signage



  1. She uses pork, but the food is halal? I’m confused – I thought pork was forbidden in halal food.

    Thanks for the write up. I’ll definitely be stopping by to check this place out.

    • Hmm, you’re right. she def uses pork and it def says halal. I wonder if it’s cool to muslims if there is pork in the vicinity.

  2. Hi Sarah and Orlick,
    I went to this place last week and had lunch there. The food was yummy and so so cheap….Chicken dishes yes, but No pork for sure Her husband is Muslim and def. would not allow it. He runs the place next door.

  3. Hi, my great aunt is the owner of the restaurant. I’m really happy to hear such positive compliments. They are greatly appreciated! And “Sarah” I’m really glad you enjoyed your visit and your right she DOESN’T SERVE PORK. Please stop by again soon you guys thank you very much for your business. It is always welcomed!

    • okay, all fixed. no more mentions of pork, I promise. Thanks for the discussion.

  4. Thank You guys very much for the great somments ! We all apreciate it very much . We can’t thank you enough for your business 🙂 . We have improved on our delivery system ! Give us a call any-day of the week 11 AM – 9 PM. Our number is 1718-205-2615. Come again ! 🙂

  5. Hi Jeff,

    Have you been able to identify what the different curries are? I just got back and loved it, I just wish I had a better idea of what I ate! I’m on a little mission to try as many curries as possible and identify my favorites.

    I had green curry with fish ball and eggplant, a sweet and mild red curry with tofu and chicken, I think (something had chicken anyway, now I can’t remember where it came from).

    Anyways the one I’m curious about was a spicy red curry with green beans and pumpkin (looked like your first curry close up, I think). Do you know what this one is called?

    And in your last curry close up, do you know what the kind of yellowish chunks are? I think I had this in one of mine too, but I have no idea what it is. It almost kind of looks like peeled cucumber.

  6. Hey Sarah, It was probably just red curry. I usually know of the curries she does – red, green, jungle. She does put in items I’m not used to, like pumpkin. She also has this sour thing, i think that’s what is in the picture. I have no idea what it is, but I love it. It might be called sour curry.

    BTW, try the indian place next door. I will write about it in a few weeks, but I think the stuff there is outstanding. and cheap. I swore off butter chicken b/c i had it at al naimet, but I had it here and it was sooooo good.

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