450 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024
(212) 501-8121

It’s like this. Bro owed me $25. So I thought, “Hey, I’ll have him take me out to dinner someplace inexpensive.” Where better than the always popular Land on 82nd and Amsterdam? I'd eaten there a handful of times and knew about what it was going to cost. My next decision, driving there, was a bad idea. I’m not one of those guys who’ll drop 20-30 bones on a two-hour garage spot. So Bro and I spent 45 minutes tooling around looking for parking. The guy who invents the hover-car will be one rich mofo.

The Upper West side is a diverse place to eat. Not just in terms of the types of food you can get, but in terms of what you’ll be paying to get it. On the one hand, there’s Ollie’s, the consistently badmouthed, but always full, Chinese that I’ve never had a problem with. Dirt cheap, lots of food, and fast, but hated by critics who, quite clearly, no one listens to. On the other hand are Aix and Oeste. They are… not so dirt cheap. In between are about forty eight million billion gajillion other restaurants of varying price, quality, and popularity. Land is one of them.

Land is Thai. Lately, Thai food has become the catch-all type of food for NYers. If you’re meeting friends or on a date, you seemingly can’t go wrong with Thai. Your vegetarian friends will have a wide menu, your meat-eating friends will have a wide menu. Thai restaurants don’t specialize in a specific culinary ingredient that risks turning someone picky off the way a Steakhouse focusing on steak, a seafood place focusing on fish, or a barbecue joint focusing on ketchup might.

But the thing is this. Thai restaurants are growing in number at what looks like an exponential rate. This happened with Chinese food back before my time, and now no one goes out to eat Chinese unless they travel to Chinatown or Flushing. Everyone just orders in. I predict that there will be a saturation point.

But we’re not there yet, and upon arrival that’s immediately obvious at Land. I’ve been here a few times, and when the maitre d’ told Bro and I that it would be a 20-minute wait, I was shocked. That’s it? So little? I’ve waited over an hour before (against my will and cursing the entire time, mind you). We were given little wooden tokens that were good for $1 off a beer next door at The Dead Poet and out we went to grab our discounted hooch. So far, so good.

Like I said, I’ve been to Land a few times, and it’s always been consistent in two ways: consistently cheap and consistently mediocre. Bland was a word I’d tossed around liberally and if someone suggested Land as an option, I was almost guaranteed to roll my eyes in amazement that in a city with three Thai restaurants for every Thai resident, the powers-that-be would pick Land as the place to go. I’ve commented to those that listen that if you’re gonna get what you pay for, I’d like it to be more expensive.

Thus, I arrived fully expecting it to be mediocre. Bland. But a friend of mine, who for lack of a better pun I’ll call Mr. Dogz, lives nearby. We were hungry, he suggested Land for lunch , and I wasn’t going to argue with either my stomach or wallet. I was pleasantly surprised. So this time, I figured that I’d hit the place up with Bro. He’d never been there, it was cheap, and recent experience suggested that it had improved.

Land is popular. And small. And small. And small. Did I mention how small it is? Three inches separate the tables which are lined up along the northern wall. Therefore, I suggest not getting up to go to the bathroom. If you sit against the wall you’ll just have to pee right where you are the way marathon runners do. I say this even though Land is known for its bathroom. It doesn’t have a sink. It has a clear pipe that pours water out from the wall, cascading over your hands and onto smooth pebbles on the floor. Neato. It’s cool and weird, but infinitely less weird than Peep’s bathroom, whose one-way glass lets you watch people eat while you simultaneously drop a deuce.

A mirror along the wall does wonders for increasing the perceived size, at least. But Land does a lot of take-out, and delivery guys are in constant flow. This makes the already small corridor tighter.

Bro ordered the Satay Sampler appetizer, a combo of three skewered meats: chicken, beef, and lamb served with a peanut sauce. He thought it was excellent although he felt that the beef was a bit dry. Once he dipped it in the sauce, however, he said he no longer noticed. I love calamari, so I ordered the Crispy Calamari. And it was delicious. I must say that there wasn’t much of it and the batter was more than a bit too thick, but I’m gonna get it again anyway.

After coming back from a semester abroad in Australia, Bro orders lamb whenever he can find it on a menu. He’ll even pick the fake lamb over the real chicken when eating lunch from a Halal cart vendor. This is probably the reason he picked the satay sampler and probably why he chose his entrée, the Massaman Curry with Lamb. But mine is not to wonder why, mine is but to speculate behind his back without bothering to ask. He liked it a lot. Bro had to go to the bathroom during the meal. So after he almost knocked the table over and after he stuck his butt in the faces of the people next to us while squeezing out, I snuck a bite. It was okay. When I think “lamb”, I don’t usually follow it up with “Thai”, and it wasn’t really my type of dish, but he liked it. So maybe you will too. As for me, I ordered the Green Curry with Chicken, which was very good. I ate it all. But here’s the thing. I like spicy. I love spicy. I picked it because it was supposed to be the spiciest curry they had. And it wasn’t spicy. So when I say Land can be bland, this is what I mean. It’s not that the curry was tasteless, but it did lack a little sump’n sump’n.

When I had lunch a few days prior with Mr. Dogz, I ordered the Chicken Galangai Soup and the Drunken Noodle with Chicken. Both were good and for an $8 prix-fix lunch, worth every penny… if not more.

So Land is popular and it clearly is quite the yummy place to go. But is it the best Thai in NYC? No. Is it worth standing on line for? Hmm... maybe for half an hour. But not more than that. Is it worth the money? Oh yeah.

Dinner and diet-Cokes for the two of us came to around $50 total.

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