Restaurant Review: Lotus of Siam

Two recent openings that challenge the mediocrity of a well-eaten genre confirm it: Thai has finally arrived in Manhattan. First came Harold Dieterle's Kin Shop (whose virtues we extolled a few weeks ago); and now chef Saipin Chutima brings a branch of her much-hailed, decade-old Vegas eatery, Lotus of Siam, to the Village.  Scaling down the former Cru space to its wood-and-rattan basics, bursts of exotic flowers spruce up the otherwise non-descript room -- the only unremarkable part of the dining experience. Offbeat cocktails, like the Blue Moon ($12) -- a floral combo of gin, lavender, lime and egg white -- set the tone for the Northern Thai stylings, which gives a workout to all parts of the palate. Tuna koi soy ($14) turns the notion of an ordinary tartare on its head with accompanying coolants -- cabbage, carrot and cucumber -- neutralizing the heat of chile and fragrant blast of kaffir lime. Texture is a big part of the journey here, too, and is wonderfully showcased in the nam kao tod ($9), with peanuts and puffed rice as a crunchy counterpoint to the soft, crumbly Thai sausage. There are some clever touches, like adding a bacon blanket to wonton-wrapped deep-fried prawns ($9) and head-on shrimp providing a bisquey undertone to a vinegary sweet-and-sour soup ($12). Dishes like an earthy sea bass ($28), mellowed by celery and cabbage, offer welcome respite from potency of much of the menu, while the refreshing, slaw-like green mango salad ($9) makes the perfect palate cleanser. A wine list heavy with Rieslings lays down another standard for Asian eateries -- wondrously thoughtful wine pairings. Now that the bamboo bar is raised, it will be exciting to see: who will break through the glass noodle ceiling?   

Lotus of Siam
24 Fifth Ave. 
(212) 529-1700

Photos from Grub Street

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