Ayada is an appealingly no-frills Thai restaurant in Elmhurst that’s earned a large and ravenous following ever since it opened in 2008, mostly for the fearless, fiery cooking of owner and chef Duangjai Thammasat (who introduces herself to everyone as “Kitty”). There’s been critical acclaim, spots on all relevant Best of lists, and a Michelin "Bib Gourmand" award. Problem is, for those of us whose daily life doesn't take us to deep Queens, it can be a challenge to eat at Ayada as much as one wants.

Fortunately, one huge Ayada fan who’s been begging Thammasat to bring her show to Manhattan for years, is an insider at Chelsea Market. And when the perfect spot became vacant in that busy market, he was in the unique position to help make it happen.

The Chelsea Market Ayada opened last Thursday in the former Thai Wholesale space, and it’s a great gift to the borough of Manhattan to have such ready access to Thammasat's kitchen. The menu here is as broad and varied as the Elmhurst original, and includes popular dishes such as Drunken Noodles, Crispy Duck Panang Curry, Whole Fish, and Thammasat's astonishing Chive Dumplings, which maybe don't look like much when they arrive at your table, but are among the most delightful starters you'll eat this year.

Even better is the Raw Shrimp Salad, a plate of seven large crustaceans, sliced, flattened, covered in a lime dressing so hot it'll make you cry, topped with bitter melon and big chunks of garlic. Assemble a bite with all four ingredients and you are in for a wild ride. Another terrific option from this part of the menu is the Crispy Ground Catfish Salad, which isn't nearly as spicy as promised—in fact, it's quite sweet, with all those fresh mango slivers—but the lacy fried fish has a real presence, and your table will wolf this beauty down in minutes.

The Pad Kra Prow, which I had with chicken, is a good safe choice if there's someone less-adventurous in your party. It's certainly not bland (Thammasat seems incapable of that most deadly of sins), but the mildish chili sauce won't set off any alarms. The Red Curry, redolent with coconut milk, definitely has a kick to it, however, and the wonderful Crispy Pork therein proves again that the Ayada kitchen knows how to use the fryer to excellent effect.

You have to push your way through the Chelsea Market throngs to get here, but once you've made it inside, and settled into your seat, Ayada feels like a regular, standalone restaurant, not a stall in a food court. Yes, it's somewhat narrow and slightly cramped—get one of the tables in the back if you can—but the busy decor and cheery, knowledgeable servers make for a pleasant, even transportive, dining experience. Ayada, by the way, is named after Thammasat's daughter, and the love shows.

The Manhattan Ayada is located within Chelsea Market, at 75 Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Street, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (212-645-9445; ayadathai.com)