(Photo credit: A Tiger In The Kitchen blog)
Here’s a developing situation for Thai dining in Manhattan: the New York outpost of Lotus of Siam, a Las Vegas restaurant that critics have called “the best Thai restaurant in North America,” has opened in the Village.
I’ve been wanting to check this restaurant out since November, but what with the holidays, blizzards and this blogger’s busy social life — I mean really, someone’s got to spend New Year’s at a beach-side spa with @FishbowlDC — the time has just slipped away.
This week, however, it was time…and fortunately for me, my astute dining companion suggested we check it out. The good news: Lotus of Siam has a spacious interior with warm lights and dark banquettes that’s simple, sophisticated, and — sigh of relief — escapes the “take-out” ambience of too many Asian restaurants in this city. (Better than Laut, for sure.)
The not-so-good news: Food is yummy, but needs to be taken up a notch. We tried a so-so appetizer, veggies and dips from North Thailand, which we were warned would be crazy, intensely, over-the-top spicy. (It wasn’t.) Next we sampled the green curry with chicken, which scored points because it was clearly made with fresh coconut milk/cream. Bangkok would be proud.
For the main entree, we had “heads on” giant prawns, largely because the dish sounded a bit scary. It turned out to be tasty, but way too skimpy (especially given the price). See photo at right. The plate needs some accompaniment….maybe some green papaya salad? a sampling of Pad Thai? Tapioca dumplings?
Still, this restaurant has potential to win hearts. The wine list is fabulous, offering several sweet to dry German Rieslings by the glass (though, seriously, would it kill an Asian restaurant to offer a Viognier, as this blogger has recommended?) and of course, a selection of beers.
The desserts…well, the sweets were authentic, which is not to say impressive. (As my dining companion put it, it will take a while for Asians to catch up with Europeans when it comes to dessert quality.) We had the palm sugar custard, which came with light green coconut rice that tasted — somewhat alarmingly — like Fruit Loops. Hmm.
Back to good stuff: I liked the spoon-and-fork table setting (no knives here!) that to me always seems a challenging part of Thai dining etiquette.
Of course, these are just my thoughts. Though I notice another blogger, A Tiger In The Kitchen, similarly wasn’t overly impressed. Perhaps Lotus of Siam is a little too Sin City, and not enough Big Mango?