Tag Archives: nyc

Thai food is the new pizza

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.

Noodles, chicken, peanuts, spicy sauce...what's not to love?

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.

The FIND display on the MTA’s new R160 trains: simply brilliant

Since I walk to work I’m not a frequent subway rider. But yesterday I took the F train to Brooklyn to see a friend who was visiting from out of town. I was on what’s known as a R160 train, which the MTA has been phasing into service since 2006. Besides these trains being clean, fast, and smooth, they also sport a pretty amazing interior display system called FIND (for Flexible Information & Notice Display).

This may be old news to many New Yorkers, but it was novel for me. I found the displays to be a brilliant execution of smart engineering and clever design.

R160 train "FIND" displays: great engineering and design

R160 train "FIND" displays: great engineering and design

The multi-colored displays show station names, borough changes, and transfer lines cleanly and clearly. The information is dynamically updated at each stop and can reflect station skips or temporary service changes in real time.

What’s most clever though is how the devices handle the display of every station on even extended routes. To do so they display the next 10 stops in fixed positions, and then show subsequent stops in rotating groups of 5 in a dynamic “Further Stops” section.  You can see in this video (at the 12 second mark) how the display changes from stations 16-20 to 21-25.  Announcements are also fully automated, as you can hear in this clip.

These smart displays are a world of difference from the plastic display cards still in place on many NYC trains, and they are about the most sophisticated system I’ve seen on any transit system I’ve ridden in the world.

I’m not sure who handled the electronics for the display system, but Kawasaki Heavy Industries handled the overall engineering for the train. Well done.  And kudos to the MTA for getting these into service.

Manley’s Wines & Spirits: a terrific West Village wine shop

After having an amazing meal at dell’anima last week, Paul and I walked across the street to check out a wine store on 8th Avenue called Manley’s.  Unfortunately they don’t have a working website at the moment (bad!) but the place is a find and deserves a shout-out.

Manley’s isn’t big, but the selection is broad and well thought out.  The staff was knowledgeable and friendly.  I asked for a recommendation for a “shiraz bursting with pepper, practically smelling of gunpowder” and Bryan, the assistant manager, led me right to his top selection.  When the lady in line behind me asked for “some wine I can’t remember the name of, but it’s about $10 and comes in this pretty bottle that everybody likes” he knew exactly what she was looking for, too.

The store is also impeccable and the merchandising is classy.  But the coolest part?  An intricate, large-scale model train set that’s installed around the periphery of the store near ceiling level. It wasn’t operating when I came in, but they were happy to give a demo and start up the engines when I asked if they would.

Impeccable displays and a great selection of wine

Impeccable displays and a great selection of wine

Ask them to run the train for you

Ask them to run the train for you

Check out Manley’s at 35 8th Avenue, between 12th and 13th Street in the Village.