On Saturday, AV and I were searching for-- what else?-- veggie dumplings. We were in his neck of the woods, so we decided to try Sala Thai, one of the Thai joints in his neighborhood.
We arrived around 8 and were seated immediately, which is a huge bonus on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, the dining room at Sala was very, very loud-- conversation, even at a near-shouting level, was difficult. The room was also intensely nondescript, if that even can be possible, like a slightly shabby hotel dining room or a downtrodden airport restaurant. So while we enjoyed the food (read on), I'd definitely recommend Sala for take-out rather than a dine-in experience.
So, on to the food. To start, of course, we had the veggie dumplings (or Gu Choi, according to the menu). When these tiny parcels arrived, AV expressed apprehension-- once again, they weren't the tiny, tan-skinned dumplings we were looking for. But wait! We tried them, and the thin green skins gave way to savory innards packed full of green veggies. The filling was mostly long strands of some sort of emerald vegetable-- bok choy, maybe?-- but was very tasty. The dipping sauce was soy-based and slightly spicy. Overall, these were a winner, definitely craveable if not necessarily traditional.
For his entree, AV got the pad thai with shrimp. It was served in a really cool wok-like serving dish and was an ample portion, with noodles, shrimp, diced smoked tofu, and all the rest of the traditional pad thai accoutrements. AV pronounced it a solid version of the Thai classic.
My selection was the papaya salad. It may not look it in the picture, but this salad was HUGE. Fortunately, papaya salad isn't especially filling, because I plowed through the entire thing. Go me! This was a better-than-average salad, with crunchy iceberg lettuce as the base, an ample mound of shredded papaya, bits of lime, cherry-tomato halves, crumbled peanut, and a soupy dressing covering it all. Tasty and a good value as well.
So overall, we definitely enjoyed the food. As I mentioned before, the ambiance was so-so, and the service wasn't great-- while I was finishing my salad, a waiter came by and cleared all the remaining dishes, thereby making me feel like a fat pig by sending the message that I should have stopped eating already. (Note to self: I probably should have.) So if I end up craving those dumplings again, I suspect we'll order in. That way we'll get three-Offset-Spatula food in more comfortable and friendly surroundings.
1718 Second Avenue, between 89th and 90th streets