AYARA THAI CUISINE IN WESTCHESTER- AUTHENTIC AND A LOCAL FAVORITE
By Michael Hepworth
It was a cool Monday night when I stopped in to Ayara Thai Restaurant in Westchester and the place was buzzing with a real cross section of customers. Service is brisk and well coordinated by an almost 100% Thai staff, and the fact that about 50% of the customer base was also Thai was another good sign walking in. The owner is Vanda Asapahu and she works with her mother in the kitchen ensuring that the quality of the food never waivers. Authenticity plus value is the reason this place is a success with the most expensive item on the menu being the Whole Fried Branzino ($26) which in this case is served with assorted fresh vegetables and a Chilli Lime Sauce.
I started right away with the Tom Kha, a spicy coconut soup which was very rich tasting with herbs, mushrooms, fresh limes and Thai chili. Price of the smaller bowl is $4, and the larger version which is also known as a Hotpot is $9 for the chicken and $11 for the shrimp. Talking of spices, there are numerous levels to choose from ranging from mild to very spicy with an even spicier one called Thai Bold Spicy. Appetizers are the usual selection of Thai specialties and in this case we selected the Fresh Spring Rolls ($ 8) which are served cold with their famous Peanut Sauce. The rolls include green leaf, carrot, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, egg noodles and sweet basil leaves all neatly wrapped in rice paper.
When it came to noodles I had heard good things about the Drunken Noodles ($10) so I went for those thinking I was going to get a soup style dish. Instead this one comes as a stir fried noodle plate with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, carrots and basil leaves in a chili garlic sauce on a bed of lettuce. They have shrimp, scallops and sea food additions if you need more even though it is a pretty substantial dish on its own. Lots of good rice specialties to choose from including the Ayara Fried Rice ($10-14) with onions, peas, carrots and scallions and topped with a fried egg. There is also Crab Fried Rice with real crab meat and the Pineapple Spectacular with cashew nuts, scallions, chilli, bell peppers, carrots and raisins.
Ayara has recently created its own line of sauces and after the launch at the Winter Fancy Food Show late last year in San Francisco, the line is currently in about twenty outlets. Try the place out first for lunch where specials are $10 with a choice of five such as the Chicken Pad Thai, Por Kra-Tiem or the Chicken Massamum Curry.
Address: 6245 West 87th Street, Westchester, 90045
Phone: (310) 410-8848
Reservations: advisable (especially on weekends)