Posted by: Orlick | November 3, 2010

Lotus of Siam NY, First Look

Here’s an early taste of the waiting-to-open Lotus of Siam New York (24 Fifth Ave). This is the second location of the legendary Las Vegas Thai restaurant created by Chef Saipin Chutima.

Chef Saipin Chutima

Lotus of Siam’s claim to fame is that it’s original location was named “The single best Thai restaurant in North America” 10 years ago by Jonathan Gold. A lot of has happened since then, so what’s a Gold star worth today?

They are taking over the former Cru space; keeping their wine chops and warm earth-toned decor while adding their own bistro-inspired wicker chairs. Plates on the table show mostly white with a pupil of tastes, as the progression of a meal is served one place setting at a time – a luxury of indulgence. And the bathrooms make me nervous. The open-air depository is at least 6 feet from the door, which makes you susceptible to being infamously exposed were someone to open the it uncouthly, perchance you forgot to lock it. If there are not stories already, there will be.

This is new for New York. It’s what upscale would nearly be in Thailand. Refreshingly, we aren’t being falsified by upscale lighting and a stiff waitstaff. This is the first Thai place I know of to be considered upscale for the its chef and sommelier.

And the view of the kitchen is the most dynamite part about LoSNY. The motion detector doors, fluidly in and out. And the striking blue and silvers of the machinery. The chefs’ faces are lit up around their stations – I wonder if it’s for their attention to the plates or our attention to them.


Descriptions from their website. Photography from Veronica Chan.
Tuna Koi Soy
TUNA KOI SOY (Raw Tuna – Issan Style) – Minced beef with fresh herb, fresh and dry chili rice powder, seasoned sauce, lime juice, served raw.

Nam Kao Tod
NAM KAO TOD – Crispy rice mixed with minced sour sausage, green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, and lime juice.

Tod Mun Plar
TOD MUN PLAR – One of Bangkok’s favorite appetizers. Deep fried fish-cake mixed with curry paste, served with cucumber salad with chopped peanuts.

Mango salad with toasted coconut and shrimp
MANGO SALAD with toasted coconut and shrimp

Spicy Chicken Wings
SPICY CHICKEN WINGS – Chicken wings deep fried until crispy then sautéed with chili, garlic sauce, and topped with crispy mint leaves.

Tum Makhuea
Tum Makhuea – A popular Northern dip made with eggplant, roasted shallots, roasted garlic, and fresh chilies.

Tom Kha Hed
TOM KHA HED – spicy coconut milk soup with oyster, maitake and shimeji mushrooms

Scallop Krathiam Prik Tahi
SCALLOP KRATHIAM PRIK TAHI – Seared sea scallop with a garlic & cilantro pepper sauce

Drunken Noodles with Soft Shell Crab
DRUNKEN NOODLE SOFT SHELL CRAB – Deep fried soft shell crab with homemade fresh chili and Thai basil. Serve on the top of pan fried flat rice noodle.

Prik Khing Koong
PRIK KHING KOONG – Prawns in spicy red chili paste and green beans.

Phak Kana Fai Daeng
PHAK KANA FAI DAENG – stir fried chinese broccoli

Cool rice container
RICE container

Sea Bass with Ginger
SEA BASS with GINGER – Steamed Sea Bass topped with our special brown sauce and ginger. Serve on the top of steamed vegetable.

NORTHERN LARB – Completely different from the Issan larb in taste, this northern style larb (ground pork) is cooked with Northern Thai spices and no lime juice, garnished with fresh herbs and vegetables.

Thai custard on sticky rice with coconut milk
THAI CUSTARD on sticky rice with coconut milk

On my visit this Saturday, we were used as an exercise for the kitchen to get up to prime performance speed. We had a set menu as displayed above, paid for by the house account. Highlights were the sauce on the sea bass, the tom kha hed (spicy coconut milk mushroom soup), and the impeccable cooking of the seafood.

Unfortunately the sauces didn’t always jive with me because of a heat imbalance. This was my first time at their brand, and this location’s typical customer is Manhattan for the masses – something I am not used to dealing with – so getting the heat correct for my taste buds was difficult. It was only by the coconut custard sticky rice dessert that I started to get a handle on their steps towards petpet, but I’m not even sure they were pushing out the heat levels consistently anyhow.

A customer at Lotus would benefit from becoming a regular, where you can get what you expect confidently. Unfortunately for me, being a regular would equal another rent to pay. Each dish seems to be expected in the teens to 20s.

It’s hard not to compare it to Elmhurst, but it’s really unlike any other Thai food in New York. With the addition of Ambala, a casual steam table take-out place (to be written about soon), and LoSNY, the Thai landscape is definitely broadening for New York. It’s a very good thing.



  1. Are the portions really that small?

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