Restaurant Review: Siam Thai Restaurant
By KATIE WILHELM
Just minutes from the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's campuses, Siam provides avid and novice Thai connoisseurs a unique alternative to dining hall food.
Parking is a little out of the way, but once inside the restaurant, diners are whisked away from the metropolitan scenery of downtown South Bend. The restaurant is eerily quiet, but the peach walls and upholstery have an immediate soothing effect. Splashes of purples, blues and gold are introduced in the cultural pictures and statues scattered throughout the room, foreshadowing the authentic cuisine to come.
The wait for seats is short, even without reservations, and the small Taiwanese hostess easily accommodates a party of six. Though the restaurant's dining room is small, tables are spaciously situated and private conversations are ensured.
Siam's comprehensive menu provides a variety of tastes to choose from. For those not familiar with Taiwanese cuisine, the menu's layout is helpful. Different courses and styles are grouped in appropriate categories, including "Seafood," "Vegetarian," "Classic Curries" and "Typical Dishes." Each dish then is described in mouth-watering detail.
The restaurant's system of identifying degrees of spiciness with asterisks allows the adventurous to challenge their tastebuds, while more mild diners can enjoy delicious flavor without the heat.
Siam takes its Thai cuisine seriously, and the appetizers provide a preview of the diverse tastes packed into each dish. With eight selections, diners have the option of meats, vegetables, seafood or tofu, each made bold with Siam's sweet and sour, herb or special Thai sauce.
The Thai egg rolls and fried tofu are particularly worth trying, as they have won acclaim even from those who had never before believed tofu had flavor. Appetizers range in price from $2.50 to $6.95.
Soups costing about $3.50 are available to follow appetizers throughout the meal. The Tom Yam Goong brings shrimp, sliced mushrooms and lemon grass together in a spicy broth, while Gang Jurd incorporates pork, tofu and glass noodles in a lighter broth.
Entrees at Siam Thai Restaurant focus on a few basic elements. Chicken, shrimp, carrots, broccoli, onions and peppers appear in some form in almost every dish. However, depending on the order these can be made savory with fresh crushed garlic, basil leaves, pineapple, cashew nuts and peanuts or coriander. Added to this is one of a variety of sauces perfected by Siam. Dishes are finished with any one of their traditional Thai hot and spicy curry sauces, hot chili paste, ginger sauce, brown oyster sauce or mild peanut curry sauce. The result is deliciously contrasting yet complimenting flavors in each bite.
Siam Thai Restaurant's menu also includes a complete selection of noodle and rice dishes. Pad See Ewe and Pad Thai are undoubtedly among the most popular entrees, and the fried rice continues to please customers.
At Siam Thai Restaurant, seafood is prepared in a most unique way. Crab meat, shrimp and mussels are accented with a Thai special hot sauce or mild curry sauce. In the Pla Lard Prik, a fillet of catfish is deep fried until crispy with red and green onions, bell peppers and basil.
A special section of the menu exists primarily for vegetarians. Tofu and noodles are mixed with a rich assortment of vegetables, and salads unite both sour and spicy Thai ingredients over a bed of fresh lettuce.
Though the menu is extensive overall, it does lack a considerable amount of choices for those with special diets or for those who prefer healthy choices.
When compared to such a wide selection and variety of entrée dishes, Siam's dessert menu also seems meager. Diners have a choice between Thai custard and fried banana topped with vanilla ice cream and maple and chocolate syrup. Prices average $3.00.
Food is brought out while still warm, and the friendly waitresses remain close by to respond to any further needs throughout the meal.
Entrees range in price from $6.95 to $10.95, reasonable when considering the generous portions and high quality of the food.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, September 15, 1999