Friday, May 22, 2009

the best thai food in the us. period.

When we got off the cab at a dodgy looking complex off the Vegas strip, I seriously thought we were having dinner at a dingey Asian takeout. Push open the doors to Lotus of Siam, though, and you're in for a wonderful surprise. It was 7PM on a Sunday and the restaurant and its waiting room were packed to the gills. We stood there reading the reviews that covered the walls proclaiming this little Thai joint as the restaurant where Vegas' star chefs come to eat, as the place where the best Thai food in the country is served. When we were told the wait would be an hour, we struck up a deal with the host to keep us on the list while we quickly got changed for our night out the hotel. We came back in 45 minutes and were promptly rewarded with our table for four. The waiter recommended a great dry Reisling sweet enough to stand up to the spiciness of the food (I don't recall the name, but just trust their recommendations, they know their stuff).

I was extremely excited to find crispy catfish salad ($13.95) on the menu. This salad was a staple at every Thai meal I've had in Asia, and I was always so sad that I couldn't seem to find it in New York. Lotus of Siam's version consisted of of deep fried catfish, fresh chili, lime juice, peanut, cashew nut, cilantro, and sliced green papaya. It wasn't as spicy as the best ever catfish salad I had (which was of course on the streets of Bangkok) but it was very refreshing next to the lip-numbingly hot dishes we'd ordered.
We ordered stuffed chicken wings ($8.95) as well, but the yummy crispy pieces disappeared way too fast for me to take a picture. I did get a chance to snap a photo of the deep fried bean curd ($6.95). So good with the sweet and sour sauce with chopped peanuts.
One of the stars of the meal was the steamed sea bass served atop a bed of drunk man noodles. The fish was soft and flaky, and the drunk man noodles so tasty. The dish was completely wiped out.
Another favorite was the spicy chicken green curry. I love how it isn't overwhelmingly spicy at first. It draws you in and lets you taste the flavors of coconut milk and kafir lime, and then wham! It hits you over the head with the spiciness. Mmmm.
The crispy duck rounded out the meal. I love duck in most shapes and forms, and this spicy concoction with crisp skin and flavorful meat was no exception.
We capped off the meal with dessert, of course (no pictures, sorry). Definitely leave room for the sticky rice topped with coconut ice cream, which is so refreshing and not sickly sweet. If you have any more space to spare, the banana fried roll is another good one to try.

Definitely a place I'll keep coming back to. I may never ever touch a slot machine in Vegas (I didn't at all during the trip), but I'll make sure my tastebuds get a whipping from Lotus of Siam every time.

Where: 953 E. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104 (3/4 East of Sahara Hotel) Tel. (702)735-3033

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