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Manhattan

O Mai vs. Cyclo

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O Mai vs. Cyclo

scrittrice | Jun 17, 2003 05:53 PM

We had tried Cyclo (on First Avenue) years ago when it first opened and thought it was okay, but not interesting or exciting enough to merit a second visit. Then a few weeks ago we were going to an opening in Chelsea and needed a place to eat afterwards and ended up at O Mai, its sibling restaurant on Ninth Avenue. I thought O Mai was great--I had an amazing rice noodle dish with what felt like homemade rice noodles and really, really fresh scallops (shrimp too). Everything I tasted was pleasantly light and fresh. Service was sloppy and a little uninformed, but the space is cute. I know you can get much cheaper Vietnamese food in Chinatown, and I'm sure this place is gringo-ized (never been to Vietnam myself), but we were very pleased. So pleased, in fact, that we decided to give Cyclo another try a few nights ago. I think Cyclo has really gone downhill. Food just didn't taste fresh--not rotten or anything, but just not as if it had been made to order. The place smelled a little funky/moldy, but I think that's a problem in a lot of places right now with the rain we've had. I had a piece of grilled salmon that was completely unexciting--just grilled salmon on rice vermicelli, and the rest of the plate filled to the point of being unwieldy with pickled carrots and radishes (I think). It looked like someone had seen the plate going out of the kitchen, said, oh, that doesn't look like enough food, and just spilled the vegetables out of a can. Unappealing, and I didn't taste any of the scallion and lime sauce promised on the menu, and the salmon was also covered with a lot of dill. (Is that Vietnamese? No idea...) The SO had a tofu special that was soggy and pretty tasteless. It, too, had the pickled vegetables poured all over the plate.

Just curious whether anyone else has tried these two (I've searched and seen some disparaging comments about snooty service at O Mai and some Cyclo boosters, mostly for take-out) and what your experience was like.

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