For a time, there were no Thai restaurants in the area near the Ditmars stop (unless you count Bangkok Tasty, which may not meet the table-and-chairs requirement for consideration in this project). Then, suddenly, as if in compliance with antitrust ordinances, there were two -- separated on 31st Street by only a laundromat and an ABC Superstore. Wave is the closer of the two to the subway stop, with what looks to be some sort of postmodern bull's-eye over the window. (Down the street is Thai Elephant, which isn't trying nearly as hard.)
Each Thai place in Astoria tries to put its own distinct twist on accommodating the neighborhood's seemingly ever-expansive demand for the cuisine. Thai Pavilion is known for quirky Thai in an oddly formal setting; Arharn Thai is the mom-'n'-pop Thai; Yajai sates diners who apparently prefer their Thai in a setting that rivals Trade Fair for poor feng shui. (We're not particularly looking forward to our obligatory visit there.)
Wave Thai is all about the romance -- and though we generally roll our eyes when restaurants employ tricks that might have wooed us in college (red walls, half-blackened light bulbs), the place has enough ingenuity to get a pass. The fountain near the entry, bedecked with small statues of elephants, imparts a genuine calm, as does the lulling but kind of weird soundtrack (elevator-music versions of Prince?). The concentric-circles motif, plus the flatware with undulating handles, is gentle and wavelike -- we get it -- but it too works toward its end. The bathroom deserves special mention for making us feel like minor royalty -- the faucet was like one of those fancy showerheads you find in nice hotels, the kind that's supposed to mimic rainfall. Again: a semi-classy gimmick, but one that turns out to be welcome.
The food? It's Thai. That's all there is to say; it's just Thai food, it fills you up for a reasonable price and tastes yummy and the noodles are fine and the curry is spicy but not too spicy. The Pad Kee Mao looked like this (even the plates are a bit wavy):
In truth, we mourn the departure of Ubol's Kitchen every time we try to go out and find someone special again. But until something that good comes back to Astoria, we'll go to Wave again, and Thai Pavilion, and Arharn, and Thai Angel, etc., depending on the mood we're after. Sure, Wave tries a little too hard, but ultimately we just shake our heads, squint in the dim light, and give in anyway.
Price: Under $15.
Will we go again? No, but we'll send you there on an Internet date.