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mrud

Lotus of Siam (Vegas) to Open in Ex-Cru Space?

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so among my wine-geek-board buddies this is the ultimate thai restaurant in the country, although admittedly i've yet to go. now the rumor is it's opening on lower 5th and i was wondering if there's any buzz out there. i've never really been able to discern if the wine guys just like it for the amazingly deep german list or if the food is really that good, but i can't wait to find out.

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Both. Last time I was in Vegas, I practically begged the owner to open a place in NYC. He said it was just too damn expensive...but, maybe now?

Fat Guy ate there during his Vegas whirlwind tour with David Ross and posted about it...click here.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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It's a pretty amazing institution. There's always a big question mark when such a restaurant copies itself, but an on-par reproduction would be an amazing addition to New York's food-and-wine scene.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This would be an exciting development if the rumors prove to be true. I love the original, and hopefully the New York edition will bear a resemblance.

This note on Eater says the menu will be scaled down. I just hope that the Northern Thai items will remain. Does anyone know how involved chef Saipin Chutima will be in the New York operation?

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although i've never been to the original i know it's in a strip mall. doesn't the cru space seem like an odd fit?

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it just seems like a strange fit to me after seeing pix of the original and having been in cru many times. my point was most definitely not to say great restaurants can't be in strip malls.

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Confirmed on Feast.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feast/Vegas-Thai-Spot-Lotus-of-Siam-Headed-for-Former-Cru-Space-105471613.html

According to someone on Chowhound, "Saipin is training local cooks to execute her dishes."

Here is their Twitter page:

http://twitter.com/lotusofsiamny

Test run first dinner menu:

http://www.twitpic.com/2z5edc


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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it just seems like a strange fit to me after seeing pix of the original and having been in cru many times. my point was most definitely not to say great restaurants can't be in strip malls.

It definitely doesn't seem like you'd put the same restaurant in that space, but that may be intentional. After all, if they're going to come to NY, they probably think they need to do things a bit differently here. Also, keep in mind that the Cru space may well be totally redone for the new restaurant. In the end, it's just square footage. My personal experience was that while the Vegas place is a little bit nicer than its strip mall location implies, it certainly wouldn't be mistaken for a fancy restaurant at all. The interior is pretty comparable to mid-level ethnic eateries in many towns around the country. However, the operation (food and wine) is far from it. I can attest that the food more than lives up to the riesling-heavy wine list. Some of the best Thai food I've had anywhere in the U.S., and certainly better than anything I've had in Manhattan.

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Be interesting to see who the money is behind this operation.

The fact that she's "training local cooks" makes me worry that we'll end up with the

usual, overly sweet crap that passes for most Thai food in this city. It may not

start out that way, but...


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm not sure how else one would open a second restaurant in another city. You have to train local cooks unless you're planning to shut your other place down and relocate everyone.

I was in tonight for a preview meal. They're a bit publicity-averse, it seems, so they were discouraging photographs and such. I won't catalog every dish, but we tried a lot of dishes and most were superb -- living up to the restaurant's reputation as a cut above all other American Thai. The flawed items were minor and easily fixable. My one significant piece of constructive criticism is that I think they should simply not offer pad Thai. Cooking of that caliber doesn't deserve to be cannibalized by a pad Thai offering.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm not sure how else one would open a second restaurant in another city. You have to train local cooks unless you're planning to shut your other place down and relocate everyone.

Of course they need to hire and train local cooks. My fear is that the local cooks start cooking food like most every other crappy Thai place in the city.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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There's a pretty big gap between run-of-the-mill Thai and what they do at Lotus of Siam. It's not like Sripraphai, where the reasons the dishes are better than the norm mostly have to do with execution. The level of refinement at Lotus of Siam is more on the level of something like Vong, where it wouldn't just be a question of slippage to get to average Thai -- it would be a complete reinvention of the schema. I think it's sort of like saying I worry that if Le Bernardin is around long enough, and the owners are insufficiently vigilant, it will become a mussels-and-frites joint. Okay maybe not that radical, but close. Although, I do think they should 86 the pad Thai. Of the dozen or so dishes I tried last night, that was the only one I felt was fundamentally pedestrian and generic -- that no matter how well they make it they'll still only be a half step away from average Thai.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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steven

if it was the best pad thai in the world would it still be pedestrian and generic because of what it is?

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I suppose there may be someone out there making revelatory pad Thai, but the best I've ever had is not a particularly great dish. It's not even that it's not great. It's more like that it's the Thai equivalent of a hamburger. It's either inappropriate for a serious, fine restaurant, or if you gussy it up with foie gras or whatever the way Daniel Boulud does with his burger then you're serving something so far removed from "hamburger" as to be a different food. I think you'd sort of have that problem if you tried to make a Lotus-of-Siam-appropriate pad Thai.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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ok, i completely undrestand your point. thanks for that most thorough explanation. i can't wait for my 1st visit and won't order pad thai as i want a unique experience.

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I imagine that if you ask them, they'd tell you that the number one goal of LOS NY at this moment is to keep their doors open for at least a year.

Pad Thai might be pedestrian, but I'd bet it's the number one favorite Thai dish of the majority of North Americans. I go to Thai restaurants a lot, often in the company of friends with far less adventuresome palates than I, and they always get Pad Thai. In fact, I'd even speculate that quite a few of them would probably decline to accompany me for Thai at all if they didn't feel certain Pad Thai was going to be available, and they could order that and leave me to my spicy "exotic" dishes.

I'm sure that the lowly Pad Thai finances a lot of overhead for a lot of Thai restaurants.

This kind of reminds me of the years I owned a travel agency. I sold a LOT of 3-day Las Vegas packages. Personally, I absolutely loathe Las Vegas. To the point that I hated talking about it, and hated selling it. But Las Vegas saw us through a lot of lean years.

I doubt you'll be able to talk them into taking Pad Thai off of their menu.

At least not until they're sure they can thrive and prosper without it.

_____________________________


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Both. Last time I was in Vegas, I practically begged the owner to open a place in NYC. He said it was just too damn expensive...but, maybe now?

Fat Guy ate there during his Vegas whirlwind tour with David Ross and posted about it...click here.

Our meal at the Las Vegas restaurant was really exceptional. I am not well-versed in either Thai cuisine or Riesling, so I wasn't sure what to expect prior to our dinner. I knew that Lotus of Siam had garnered a lot of recognition and my friends in Las Vegas raved about the place. The dishes were spicy and flavorful and perfectly paired to the Reislings that we tasted.

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I doubt you'll be able to talk them into taking Pad Thai off of their menu.

I suspect Pad Thai is one of those dishes they feel the MUST have, in the same way that most Western restaurants feel they MUST have a steak.

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I think if you open a Thai restaurant without pad Thai you take a risk, but Lotus of Siam is supposed to be a mold-breaking place. In Lotus of Siam's case, the greater risk may be from offering pad Thai. A customer who might have ordered something else might order pad Thai instead. Serving it sends the message that this is a standard-issue Thai place. It's not a good dish for the ambitious wine program. And the pad Thai is good but not fabulous, so it doesn't represent what the kitchen can do.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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. . .

Pad Thai might be pedestrian, but I'd bet it's the number one favorite Thai dish of the majority of North Americans. I go to Thai restaurants a lot, often in the company of friends with far less adventuresome palates than I, and they always get Pad Thai. In fact, I'd even speculate that quite a few of them would probably decline to accompany me for Thai at all if they didn't feel certain Pad Thai was going to be available, and they could order that and leave me to my spicy "exotic" dishes.

So true! This is the second time recently that you've pretty much taken the words right off my typewriter keyboard. :biggrin:

Regarding taking risks, no matter how "out there" diners are willing to go, they often also want at least one familiar dish to keep them "safe". When I go to Thailand, I'll eat whatever is ordered, but I still request gai pad grapow because it's familiar and it reminds me of my dad. For many, that familiar dish will be pad thai.

FWIW, I rarely see Thais eating pad thai in Thailand and I don't think it's nearly as popular with Thais as it is with farangs. Other rice noodle dishes like rad na are more popular, at least amongst the crowd I hang with, but perhaps those are too Chinese for a place like LoS. There's another dish similar to pad thai that uses coconut milk that I think is much tastier, and if a restaurant owner wanted to offer something in place of pad thai, it would be a good choice. Familiar enough for those who look for familiarity, but different enough to offer a "risk".

Just out of curiosity, does LoS offer chopsticks as a part of its standard table setting?

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There's another dish similar to pad thai that uses coconut milk that I think is much tastier, and if a restaurant owner wanted to offer something in place of pad thai, it would be a good choice. Familiar enough for those who look for familiarity, but different enough to offer a "risk".

That might be a perfect solution. So when puzzled Thai neophytes look up quizzically from the menu and ask, "Don't you have Pad Thai?" the server could offer that instead.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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. . .

Pad Thai might be pedestrian, but I'd bet it's the number one favorite Thai dish of the majority of North Americans. I go to Thai restaurants a lot, often in the company of friends with far less adventuresome palates than I, and they always get Pad Thai. In fact, I'd even speculate that quite a few of them would probably decline to accompany me for Thai at all if they didn't feel certain Pad Thai was going to be available, and they could order that and leave me to my spicy "exotic" dishes.

So true! This is the second time recently that you've pretty much taken the words right off my typewriter keyboard. :biggrin:

Regarding taking risks, no matter how "out there" diners are willing to go, they often also want at least one familiar dish to keep them "safe". When I go to Thailand, I'll eat whatever is ordered, but I still request gai pad grapow because it's familiar and it reminds me of my dad. For many, that familiar dish will be pad thai.

FWIW, I rarely see Thais eating pad thai in Thailand and I don't think it's nearly as popular with Thais as it is with farangs. Other rice noodle dishes like rad na are more popular, at least amongst the crowd I hang with, but perhaps those are too Chinese for a place like LoS. There's another dish similar to pad thai that uses coconut milk that I think is much tastier, and if a restaurant owner wanted to offer something in place of pad thai, it would be a good choice. Familiar enough for those who look for familiarity, but different enough to offer a "risk".

Just out of curiosity, does LoS offer chopsticks as a part of its standard table setting?

The menu for the soft opening (which started yesterday) is a prix fixe (tasting menu), and doesn't include any pad thai, or even any noodle dishes at all. You can see it here:

http://images.nymag.com/images/2/daily/2010/11/03_lotus_pre-openingmenu.pdf

They'll be adding a la carte options next week, supposedly, when they do their full opening. Interestingly, some of the people from Cru are still involved, including the ownership and manager, and they've inherited some of the wine cellar. So Saipin Chutima isn't in this alone. They are currently in the process of figuring out which wines they will add to the present selection, which ones they will remove, etc. Obviously, the focus will be on reislings and other Thai-friendly wines. As of last night, the limited list they're using for the opening was heavy on German reislings, but didn't have much in the way of French (Alsatian) or Austrian.

Having eaten at both the Vegas outpost and now at the NY iteration, I still feel like the Vegas version was a little more authentic, a bit cheaper and a little bit better. That said, it was still very good. The spice level was more moderate last night than my experience at the Vegas original, and there seemed to be some slight concessions to American palates that I hope will change. Still, the food was light years ahead of the usual sweet, sloppy junk that poses as Thai food here.

Lotus of Siam absolutely does not offer chopsticks as part of its standard table setting. In my mind, offering chopsticks is usually a dead giveaway that the place is not authentic and is catering to some other group's idea of what Thai food is. LOS proffers spoon and fork, in proper Thai style. However, for some courses, they offered a fish spoon/spade in place of a typical tablespoon...I'm guessing this was an effort to "upscale" the feel of the setting, while still providing a utensil configuration close to authentic.

More on the food I had soon.

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