Lovers of Thai food – past and present – head out to Douglaston’s Am Yours Café. Owner Punsak Puncharoen, professionally-known as “Chef Oudy”, took over this cozy little spot on Northern Boulevard in August and has converted it into a “Thai fusion” oasis.
With more than 25 years of experience, including executive chef stints in Bangkok, Universal Studios in Florida, Scandinavian Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines; a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from his native Thailand and a desire to make his own mark, his dishes are rich in traditional Thai tastes, aromas and textures – and presented with the eye-appeal of the finest Continental restaurants.
Mostly it’s the artistry that’s the fusion part. “In Thailand, they just ladle the food into a bowl,” he laughed. He’s an artist, and has carved ice and sculpted butter for fancy events – and he’s even applying his talent to the décor when he isn’t supervising the kitchen or 10,000 meals a day at various airports.
At Am Yours, when you order what you think is a familiar dish, it will be like a first kiss revisited, only better. His flavors are a little brighter and the sweet accents are subtle.
Oudy spares no effort in the quest for authenticity. The tart accent in dishes comes from tamarind juice. The sweetness comes from palm sugar rather than cane. He imports five kinds of soy sauce for their individual qualities and innumerable other ingredients.
The meat and fowl are marinated and smoked, stewed or both before being included in a dish’s final preparation. The result is layers of tenderness, texture and flavor that you won’t find in more established (and expensive) Thai eateries.
Of the several dishes we tried, everything was absolutely wonderful.
Lychee Curry Duck – succulent not greasy meat with grape tomatoes, green pepper, pineapple and Thai basil in a red curry sauce – is sure to satisfy.
Pineapple Passion Fried Rice has multi-soy flavors suffusing the jasmine rice, mixed cashews, raisins, diced chicken and Asian sausage, adorned with sliced pineapple and cucumber, surmounted by grilled shrimp. Delightful.
Yellow Curry Chicken, stewed white meat with potato and fried red onion cooked in a yellow curry sauce is delicious with plenty of flavor.
The Chicken Satay is seared skewers of marinated white meat served with excellent home-made peanut sauce and sugared vinaigrette with diced cucumber, red onion and cilantro.
Try the crispy Crab-cheese purse – crab meat with cream cheese and small-diced celery, carrot and water chestnut in a golden crust, served with a superior sweet and sour sauce.
The Thai Beef Jerky and Sticky Rice Balls offer excellent tastes and texture – yum. Shrimp are large and succulent – the Pad Thai is fantastic.
Oh, and the famous Thai heat is well in evidence. It glows from within the flavor rather than substituting for it – unless of course you have something to prove and venture beyond “medium.”
Try the “Drunken Noodle,” which comes with a choice of meat. Wide rice noodles served with red and green peppers, Chinese broccoli, basil and bean sprouts with garlic and various chili accents.
“When you’re drinking in Thailand, you need the bold flavors,” Oudy chuckled. Hooray for bold – I had the medium and was suffused with excellent flavor and a most satisfactory warmth that invited another ice-cold Thai beer.
Chef is working on a lot of things as he develops his realm: a winter menu; chef’s specials and “healthy” menu choices, delivery and catering.
He’s also tweaking the web site, www.AmYourscafe.com, but be sure to make a real visit to the restaurant.
Am Yours Café
Thai Fusion Cuisine
242-03 Northern Boulevard
(At Douglaston Parkway)
Douglaston, NY 11363
All major credit cards
Open seven days:
Monday-Thursday noon to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday 5 to 10 p.m.
Q12 bus stops in front/across the street.
Four blocks to L.I.R.R. Douglaston station
Metered parking until 7 p.m. except Sunday