Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lotus of Siam Manhattan

For those who don't know, Lotus of Siam, an incredible northern Thai restaurant located in a strip mall far from the strip in Las Vegas, is opening a branch in Manhattan on 5th Avenue at 9th Street, in the old Cru location, and everyone's ecstatic. They're not yet open to the public, but have been hosting preview meals for friends.

My understanding is that Lotus of Siam chef/owner Saipin is training a NYC staff, and will remain based in Las Vegas (though she'll return frequently to check up). And I thought I'd share a report I got from a from a keen-palated preview attendee:

"It tastes as if a really great Thai chef gathered some random semi-skilled kitchen workers with little familiarity with Thai food, tutored them for a month, and gave them top-notch ingredients and recipes to work from. And that, in fact, is exactly what this is."

So: "good-not-great", I'd suppose. They
will surely improve, but could scarcely ever hope to resemble the original location (whose kitchen has enjoyed years of Saipin's daily presence). And it may well wind up being a welcome addition to the local dining scene.

But strategy suggestion: don't run in opening week. It sounds like the kitchen needs some serious time to calibrate. And pay scant heed to early reviews, which will flood in during this awkward time (on the other hand, they keep delaying the opening date, so the owners seem mindful of the need to make a good first impression).

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