Lotus of Siam

By Robert Cutts

Calling all Las Vegas foodies!  You have a new restaurant you need to visit, a culinary jewel hidden in the Las Vegas valley. Headed by award-winning Chef Saipin Chutima, Lotus of Siam is a restaurant that serves authentic Thai-Issan cuisine. Jonathan Gold of Gourmet Magazine has called Lotus of Siam, “the single best Thai restaurant in North America” (Gold, 2010). The criteria I will use to judge the restaurant upon are atmosphere, selection, cost, and palate pleasure.

My experience began upon entering the front doorwhen I was greeted by numerous awards and Thai decorations. Aspects of Thai architecture cover the restaurant. There is also traditional Thai music playing in the background. The restaurant was set in a very intimate way, meaning there are numerous two-person tables, which makes this a perfect place to take a date. Unfortunately I was with my roommate when I dined at the restaurant so I didn’t experience the romantic atmosphere that Lotus can provide, but that’s another story.

Dinner begins at 5:30 PM. The restaurant can be very busy on the weekends so I would recommend calling in for a reservation.  Mid-week dining is less busy and provides the opportunity to be sat immediately. After being greeted by the hostess, I was sat promptly, served a glass of water, given the menu and presented with their wine list. The wine selection at Lotus of Siam has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2005, a major plusfor the winos’ among us. The restaurant also has a full bar and authentic Thai tea, which tasted excellent, but would have been even better if refills were free. The menu was humongous, stuffed with eight pages worth of Thai favorites. These include Thai soups, salads, and barbecued items.

The first page I turned to listed the appetizers. These items ranged from simple egg rolls to sa-tay beef served with a peanut sauce. The beef was exceptional. It was tender and full of flavor. It was served on wooden skewers and placed over shredded cabbage.

The next page I looked to was the Chef’s Choice. These are not only the Chef specialties but also the most popular things on the menu. One of the more popular items, which I partook in, was the sea bass, which is deep-fried and placed over your choice of steamed vegetables, a papaya salad, or drunken noodles.

I was also able to choose what I wanted on the sea bass. The choices were ginger, suki sauce, sa-mm rod sauce, hor mok sauce, tom yum sauce, or red chili sauce. All of the entrée’s have a spiciness scale of one to ten, ten being the hottest. The waiter asks you where on the scale you would like it. Not being a fan of extremely spicy food, I decided to stay in the mid range and went with a six. Part of me wishes I wasn’t such a sissy and went for the ten but I would have paid for it the next day. Once again this was exceptional. The flavors of the sea bass, drunken noodles, and chili sauce were blended in a way that neither over powered the others.

There are only two desserts on the menu, but to truly experience the full flavor you have to order them both together. These two items are fried bananas and imported coconut ice cream from Thailand. These were amazing. I am not really a fan of anything coconut but this ice cream was to die for.

The food at Lotus of Siam was excellent. It exceeds all expectations I had about it. My only complaints are the location of the restaurant and the wording in the menu. Lotus of Siam is not located in the best of areas. It is set on Sahara and Maryland parkway and is hidden in this shopping center. The wording on the menu is difficult for western people to read because it is in Thai. However, there are little descriptions provided for everything and if all else fails, the wait staff is very willing to help and provide suggestions.

The bill is determinate on how crazy you want to go. If you order drinks, an appetizer, entrees, and dessert, the bill can get up there in price. The bill for my trip to Lotus ended up being over $100 for two people but it was well worth it. There are many less expensive items on the menu for those who are strapped for cash. The average dish is between 10-40 dollars but if you go between (add info), there is a discounted lunch menu.

My grading system is based on the A-F scale. If the criterion receives an A, it is exemplary. A grade of B means that it was above average but lacking in one or two spots. A grade of C is average. A grade of D means it needs improvement. If it receives an F, the restaurant has failed in every aspect.

Atmosphere: B

The traditional Thai themes were very pleasing but the building is older and the neighborhood is a little sketchy.

Selection: A

The selection at Lotus of Siam was amazing. The 8 page menu offers even the most stubborn eater numerous choices for dining.

Cost: B

It is a bit pricey for the average student. Definitely not an everyday place to dine if you plan on going all out but Lotus offers numerous choices of lower cost foods and a discounted lunch menu if you come for lunch.

Palate Pleasure: A

This restaurant, by a pure taste stand point, is perfect. It offers choices for every taste and texture. The foodies of Las Vegas would do themselves a disservice if they did not pay a visit to Lotus of Siam.

Overall: B+

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to my friends and I cannot wait to go back and try that level 10 of spiciness!

More information is available at www.saipinchutima.com

Reference

Gold, J. (2010). Lotus of siam. Retrieved from http://www.saipinchutima.com/

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