What’s not to love about chicken pad thai, beef satay, or massaman curry (which a certain colleague of mine blissfully calls “crack with peanuts”)? Fact, is, New Yorkers seem to think there’s plenty to love about Thai food. And in this economy, the typical price point of it surely doesn’t hurt.
Zagat lists 75 Thai restaurants in Manhattan alone. I’d guess there are at least three times that many that are not Zagat-rated.
On the 9 block stretch of 8th Avenue between 14th St. and 23rd St. in Chelsea, I can count – off the top of my head – 10 of them. (If I look under my shoe or in that space behind my sofa I’d no doubt find a few more.)
In a snub-of-the-nose to Starbucks, Spice even opened a second location on 8th Avenue a block and a half away from an existing one. Ha. (side note: Spice provides an excellent example of a god-awful restaurant website, although their food is pretty darn tasty).
Crains noted this phenomena for all things Thai in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, which Crains estimates is home to at least 40 Thai food outlets. On some blocks, landlords are even refusing to lease to new Thai restaurants because of the existing over-saturation. Don’t you wish landlords exercised the same restraint for new Starbucks or Subway outlets?
I wonder if this is really just a NY (or coastal) thing, or if other parts of the US are as Thai-enamored as New Yorkers are? I think I was 19 or 20 before I first tried Thai food while visiting a friend in Washington D.C. But now I certainly can’t imagine its absence from my weekly food repertoire. How can throwing peanuts on a plate not make just about any dish better? And how about warm chicken coconut soup? Hello: it has coconut.
So forget the medium pizza with pepperoni; spicy beef salad and curry puffs seem to be the cheap NY staples that are made for this recession. Or maybe a combo of pizza and Thai is really the best of both worlds. But I guess the innovative folks at CPK figured that one out a few decades ago.
You are most definitely not alone. Thai is extremely popular here in Hawaii, and I remember a few restaurants back home in Connecticut before I left, it also seems to be catching on in North Carolina as of the last time I visited there.