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muang thai and cafe one (london)

howler Apr 14, 2007 11:29 AM

i tried both a couple of times and am happy to report that they are much, much better than anything you get in central london eg mango tree, patara etc.

on the other hand, i can't imagine making the trek out to campden town just to eat at muang thai. cafe one's a lot more cheerful and a lot more neighborhoody than muang thai. but muang thais stir fries are better.

  1. oonth Apr 14, 2007 03:46 PM

    Muang Thai has been a local favourite of mine for a few years now and it's definitely better food than Number 1 Cafe although I take the point about atmosphere/neighbourhood feel. Muang Thai's location is a curious one, it certainly ain't residential around there.

    I definitely don't consider anywhere within Zone 2 a trek especially where good food is concerned.

    5 Replies
    1. re: oonth
      howler Apr 15, 2007 02:54 AM

      "I definitely don't consider anywhere within Zone 2 a trek especially where good food is concerned."

      excellent.

      then you've doubtless been to sripraprhai in woodside several times by now. don't you agree that theres an enormous difference between the muang thais of this world and sripraphrai?

      1. re: howler
        oonth Apr 15, 2007 07:46 AM

        Not that I have to establish my mobility (or other) credentials but actually I have now made it Sripraphai a couple of times.

        I'll concede that Sripraphai is the best Thai food I've had outside Thailand but to say that there's an enormous difference in the standard of food between there and somewhere like Muang Thai is wide of the mark and I've had the benefit of eating at both places within close temporal proximity to one another.

        I'll also concede that New York is operating on a higher culinary plane than London (and lots of other places) in quite a few respects notably sushi which is my favourite cuisine. That said, I've noticed that New Yorkers (native and adopted) are very prone to hyperbole which means that I now apply what I call a "hype discount" to many of the recommendations/endorsements made on the Manhattan board (and elsewhere for that matter). A good example would be an upscale Indian place called Devi which receives universal high praise on the Manhattan board ranging from "the only authentic Indian food outside India" to "some of the best Indian food anywhere". I went there recently for lunch and have to say that it was pretty mediocre food, decor, service and my main course of baigan in some kind of imli/tomato sauce was laughably bad, more Italian than Indian tasting and even then tasted as if the sauce had come out of a tin of chopped tomatoes. There are lots of other examples that I could give. My point is that it's good to be positive and optimistic about your city and what it offers on the culinary (and other) front(s) but the inability of people here to be self-critical in any meaningful way about limitations/deficiencies on the eating front, and the self-certainty even in the absence of proper reference ranges/points, is beyond ridiculous.

        In spite of steady advances over the last 15 years, I don't think that London is the eating city that NYC is but the ability of people on this London/UK board to be objective+self-critical and the fact that they often have a better sphere of reference are all things to be applauded.

        1. re: oonth
          zuriga1 Apr 15, 2007 08:34 AM

          Having lived near both cities, I wholeheartedly agree with your views, oonth, about NY being on a higher plane. I think the one exception is Indian (forgive me for that adjective) food. Most Americans are bad judges of what is really good in that realm. They usually don't grow up eating it the same way they do Chinese - many are transplants from other cities where it is just now gaining favor with taste buds. I once thought Darbar in NY had good food, but that was a long time ago and maybe I should try it again just for fun one day.

          1. re: zuriga1
            oonth Apr 15, 2007 09:37 AM

            Zuriga1, I'm not going to cite all of those other examples otherwise we would be here for years but my observations extend to more than just commentary about Indian places. Places of all cuisine types get talked up so a good place is billed as exceptional and a mediocre place as good. People (especially on the Manhattan board) are happy to assert that so and so place is some of the best Spanish/Indian/Italian etc food anywhere even though it's clear that they haven't really tried any of these food types outside of their own city/state let alone sampled the food in any of those countries. That's what I mean by spheres of reference and objectivity.

            How many times have we read on this UK board the story of visitors from the US coming to London, having a zeitgeisty snapshot of eateries in W1, SW3, W11, W8 etc (which betrays a complete lack of understanding of the way in which London and NYC differ in terms of city layout, urban development and demographics) and then smugly concluding that London eating is just fine but not a patch on NYC/US standards? Hell, New York magazine even ran a piece along these lines recently and at least one visitor has made reference on this board to that shoddy piece of journalism, agreeing with its flimsy conclusions. I lived in London for 15 years, I've been in NYC for 2 and I still feel hesitant making bold and definitive statements about the relative merits of the eating scene in each city.

          2. re: oonth
            howler Apr 15, 2007 10:57 AM

            my, my we seem to have touched a nerve. i'm certainly not asking you to establish any credentials - i took your statement of willing to travel for good food at face value, even though it was easy to read it as pompous.

            if you think that sripraphai and muang thai are similar dining experiences, good for you. i couldn't disagree more, but thats fine. however, lets be clear: its certainly not because i'm an ex-manhattanite that i extoll the virtue of one at the expense of the other, which is what your rant seems to suggest.

            listen, london has great lebanese food, some great iranian and some very decent high end restaurants. but the fabulous things about london are the wine stores, the butchers, the farmers markets, the cream, the cheese etc. it would be silly and laughable to try and compare london and new york as restaurant cities.

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