Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lotus of Siam 11-16-2010

Location: 24 5th Ave.
Time: 7:30pm
People: 8 exclusive Ramen and Friends: MGru, ALev, SaSha, Sekita, BLee, TrishP, MKang and myself

Feelings: The legendary "Lotus of Siam" in Las Vegas is considered to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the country, and it is now available for us without a bi coastal trip. Upscale and Thai food do not meet in New York, but you can have the Northern Thai luxury dining experience here. This is a quintessential Manhattan spot for Manhattanites: extensive drink menu, dim lighting, amusingly modern bathroom, older clientele, polite and proper waitstaff and of course, $14 for a small plate of Pad Thai.

Although I understand that this new restaurant is still work in progress, I was unnecessarily stressed over their reservation process. They originally were planning on giving our party of 15 a private room, but unfortunately it was still under construction. We were told they couldn't accommodate a party larger than 10, so it was a bit disappointing when we arrived and there were plenty of empty tables. SaSha and I also did not find the service to be particularly courteous or gracious.

BLee mentioned that the Northern Thai cuisine is intentionally blander than its Southern counterpart. Even with this knowledge, it seemed disappointingly bland to most of us."Overall, this food was no better than your average hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. And it has NOTHING at all on Woodside Thai. Las Vegas should keep its restaurants in Las Vegas!" said MGru. "Coming from Vegas, it certainly didn't make the splashy impact I was expecting-not in the food, service or decor," Sekita added. While SaSha enjoyed Nam Kao Tod (crispy rice and Thai sausage appetizer) for its bold flavor and texture as well as the $14 glass of wine, she was disappointed by the lack of flavor in the dishes she tasted such as papaya salad, beef red curry and chili chicken wings. She summed up the experience as, "The food you could get at any other Thai restaurant in Manhattan, just in a slightly nicer setting, and with higher prices." We all agreed that even an extravagant Vegan restaurant cannot beat the flavor of Sriphrapai or other Thai restaurants in Elmhurst area.

I did not enjoy the saltiness and overpowering garlic flavor of my Tofu Pad See Ew ($14). The vegetables and noodles were cooked to perfection, but the flavor component was missing. The blandness seemed to carry over to their drinks as well. We found that their Thai iced tea was not sweetened with condensed milk or sugar; it was a lot of cream and a bit of unsweetened tea. Is this the way Northern Thai people enjoy their tea?

Thai cuisine has established itself as a New York restaurant staple, and it is time that a high end Thai restaurant would emerge in Manhattan. Lotus of Siam is a nice addition for those who enjoy mildly flavored Thai food in luxurious setting, and this may be a great place to take your hot date who is unfamiliar with Asian food. I can also definitely see "Real Housewives of _ (name your location here)" people dining here bedazzled in their jewel toned dresses and cat fighting. For people like us who would not mind the trip to Queens for real bold flavors, they cannot make us pay $14 for a noodle dish even with their impressive bathroom and lovely rice containers.


Mina said...

I agree, it wasn't bad, just not as flavorful. I want to check out that K bacon place!!!

MGru said...

Nicely written! I especially love: "...this may be a great place to take your hot date who is unfamiliar with Asian food." So true!

kim said...

You know, I'll forever be a support of local, home-style eateries. Sit me for a meal at a Thai home and I would be 100X happier than dining at posh joint like Lotus of Siam. I think it's great that Asian foods (aside from Japanese I guess) are finally celebrated as high-caliber cuisines and not just street foods, but personally, the most authentic is still homecooked meal. Will you try Kin Shop? Heard the flavors really pop. :)

Yosh. O said...

@mina- k bacon here we come!
@mgru- thanks :)
@kim- I'll def try Kin Shop soon! It's so true about the homecooked meal.

Unknown said...

Fourteen dollars for noodles!? Craziness. Sorry the food wasn't so good, but gotta try it all. Have you had Tasty-Noodles on Doyer? I'm addicted now. Their hand-pulled noodles are amazing and their dumplings are huge!

Yosh. O said...

i think RB was talking about that noodle place too! gotta try it some time soon!!