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Thailand Cafe update

It looks like Thailand Cafe will not exist (at least in its current space) for much longer. Forest City has finally had its plan to put up lab space in that area approved: http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/...

This will leave Mulan as the only restaurant in Central or Kendall square serving regionally-authentic Asian food (let alone Chinese food). I hold a stronger view, that Mulan will be the only *good* Asian restaurant remaining in this area, though I realize that this is more controversial.

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    1. No indeed. After reading the last mega-thread on this place, I've been going there regularly for their 干锅鱼片 (dry cooked fish slices, with mushrooms and whole garlic) and dry sauteed green bean - two absolute favorites.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lossless

        gan guo fish is one of my favorites from Lao Sichuan, and I've certainly enjoyed theirs. I also hope they can relocate.

      2. Bummer - I hope they will try to relocate.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kobuta

          If they do relocate, perhaps they'll use the opportunity to change names and stop pretending to be a Thai restaurant. Potential patrons who don't read Chowhound may not realize that there's a really good Szechuan restaurant hiding there. Just as with "New Shanghai" in Chinatown, they have probably kept their name (and the Thai menu) to avoid discouraging the old clientele, but a move could provide an excuse to pick a name that corresponds to what they do well.

          1. re: owades

            A famed Szechuan chef, chased by the triads, is forced to flee and relocate to a strange town in a foreign country and forced to cook intentionally mediocre Thai food so as to attract few customers and less attention from his hunters. However one day an elderly gentlemen from his old hometown inquires about a bowl of beef noodle soup, and the gentle chef can't help himself but produce a masterpiece. Steadily the news spreads of his skills, until the triads get wind and descend on the town en masse. But they must now face the army of food lovers who vow to protect the chef at all costs - and arrive at the restaurant for a climactic showdown. Starring Chow Yun-Fat as chef and Ben Affleck as charismatic local foodblogger.

            1. re: lossless


              I assume the name of the movie is Szechuan Sizzle.

            1. Heard Pupu Hotpot scheduled to end at its lease renewal date in July. OK, maybe not "good" Chinese--but reliably cheap and tasty Chinese lunches.

              Yes, we're running out of Chinese food in Central Square. Maybe someone will migrate over from C-town to make it happen for us...

              3 Replies
              1. re: femmevox

                Interesting. It has been a very long time since I've had non-lunch fare from there (10-12 years) but their lunch specials are a great deal. That's too bad.

                1. re: femmevox

                  Ah, maybe Thailand Cafe's Sichuan menu can live on if they take over the PooPoo Hotpot space! One can only dream.

                  With so many biotech/pharma companies and grad students in the area, an authentic Chinese restaurant should be able to do brisk lunch business at least (provided they market what they really sell - not the faux Thai food side).

                  1. re: kobuta

                    I don't think the Pupu Hotpot spaces is becoming vacant. My understanding is that Patty (?) who owns the space is going to create something new there, called Prospect.

                2. Dropped by today for takeout and asked the man at the counter about possibly closing. He sorta smiled wistfully and didn't confirm 100% but said it was likely happening in a few months, just not right away. He also didn't give any firm hints about relocation.

                  1. I'm no expert on real estate development, but the fact that Forest City has obtained city council approval does not necessarily mean that they'll be in a position to move forward anytime soon. They may still need a myriad of other city and state approvals and permits, and to line up financing and subcontractors. So with any luck, we could have Thailand Cafe around a fair bit longer.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Blumie

                      Unrelated to how fast Forest City can move forward, Thailand Cafe may not be able to renew its lease, whenever that comes up. Hopefully not too soon.

                    2. True, though a few recent back-to-back TC/MuLan meals in the past few months have really hit home how MuLan is the clear winner in the "blindingly fast and cheap" category. The dishes are $1-2 more but the value is much higher as you get decent ambience, slightly larger portions, and a larger menu along with overall better food quality. If "ultra fast and cheap Sichuan" is what you need, TC is the place for it, but I've grown tired of getting 4 dishes brought to the table in under 4 minutes (I timed it) and having half of them be cold or underseasoned because some speed demon in the kitchen wanted to beat his record. TC can be pretty decent but it's unpredictable. BTW, the best dish in a smoky Sichuan style I've had at MuLan is the beef tendon in chili sauce. Don't miss it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Luther

                        I strongly disagree. I've eaten at both many, many times. I've probably eaten at Thailand Cafe once a week for the past 8 years, and Mulan every other week. Thailand Cafe is an amazing place. The potatoes with hot peppers, the fish with cabbage, the spicy prawns. the bamboo shoots, are all wondrous. I've NEVER had a cold dish, or an under seasoned dish. I've brought many Chinese friends there and they are consistently amazed.
                        Mulan is excellent as well, but not quite as exciting.
                        The only downside to Thailand Cafe is the sad feeling I have when I watch visiting tourists to MIT order the Thai food. I want to stop them!

                        1. re: Kames

                          I've certainly enjoyed my meals at TC, and I appreciate that they don't pull any punches--if you order something, you get what you ordered, and if you don't like it (as I have observed) they don't seem to care. That said, I've also enjoyed much of the food I've had at MuLan as well.

                      2. I talked to a waitress (who is possibly an owner?) there tonight, and they're going to be closing this Sunday, June 30. I'm not sure whether they're planning to reopen elsewhere, but it sounded unlikely that their new location would be nearby if they do.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: clamdining

                          Man, this is a bummer. I'm not sure I'm actually free to go back there any time this week.

                          1. re: KWagle

                            I went by tonight for carryout and the man at the counter said that they aren't planning to reopen because they haven't found a space close to MIT. I had the twice cooked pork, which I remembered being decent but which was pretty bad this time, mostly due to sketchy meat, not the usual succulent pork belly but a leaner cut (though not the lean pork one gets from an Americanese restaurant.) I also had the Chengdu style dry hot chicken, which was quite good (they also have Chongqing style on the menu.) So it turned out to be a mixed bag.

                          2. re: clamdining

                            Sorry to hear this news. Their gan guo fish with the mushrooms and lots of whole garlic is one of my favorite dishes. I'll miss that very much.

                            1. re: lossless

                              I've had their gan guo fish and enjoyed it, but it's not impossible to find elsewhere. New Shanghai and Sichuan Gourmet both have it, and the SG version is outstanding (though they don't serve it in the mini wok with sterno.) I think they might also have it at Red Pepper, since they have other gan guo dishes.

                              1. re: KWagle

                                Thank you, good to know. TC is/was by far the easiest to get to for me, but Chinatown is perfectly doable, Brookline ok too. Framingham, not so much, sadly.

                                1. re: lossless

                                  Alas, for the best version of gan guo fish, you do need to go to Framingham. I went back to TC tonight for the Chongqing style dry crispy chicken and the gan guo fish. The fish was okay--I like the drier and crispier version from SG (which is not available at all their locations, they have a similar dish called xiang la, I believe.)

                                  The Chongqing style chicken, as the guy at the counter said, was indeed not as dry as the Chengdu style, it was slightly wet with what tasted like a bit of wine. I've never had it that way before and would be surprised if I ever have it that way again, but it was quite good, and if you like the dish (chunks of deep-fried chicken with dried peppers and huajiao) I recommend you go try it before the restaurant closes. Order one of each--they're both quite good--but if you can only have one, get the Chongqing style.

                          3. Thanks for reporting this and mentioning the Gan Guo Fish...managed to step in for lunch today and enjoyed the dish tremendously...it was impossible to save any for dinner!

                            1. Have the couple who ran Thailand Cafe resurfaced anywhere?