Lotus of Siam
On Saturday, Devin and I took my parents to Lotus of Siam. We have been in a bowling league with most of the waitstaff for about a year now, and we've been meaning to go there. When an article about this year's James Beard award floated my way, I noticed that among the nominees, which included the Chefs from Joel Robuchon and Rick Moonen, was the Chef from Lotus of Siam. That sealed the deal; we had to go there as soon as possible.
The restaurant is easy to drive right by; there's a sign on what looks like a warehouse on Sahara, just east of the Strip. Never fear; the entrance is on the other side, and the ambiance is nice. We didn't have reservations but got in at 7PM on a Saturday night with no problem. The crowd started showing up at 8, so I would recommend reservations for a later meal.
The wine list is huge, but since I didn't know what I was planning on eating, I just ordered a beer. They have both Singha and Chang beer from Thailand. The menu is similarly huge, probably ten pages of dishes conveniently numbered so you don't have to fumble through pronunciations if you aren't used to ordering Thai food.
I started with the Tom Yum Kai soup, which is my favorite thing to eat at Thai restaurants. I asked for it hot-spicy. Heed my warning: If you're at all nervous about your heat threshold, go for medium-spicy. I love really spicy food, so I thought the soup was great. I also ordered the Spicy Catfish. It was thin filets of fish battered and fried, with a delicious sauce, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even had leftovers since we ordered so many other dishes.
Other things ordered were the stuffed chicken wings appetizer, the chicken satay with peanut sauce, and the jackfruit dish, which was, I believe, mashed jackfruit, pork, and herbs in a spicy sauce. That one was delicious, as was everything else. My Dad ordered a salmon dish, which he said was really great. I believe it because there was absolutely nothing left on his plate when he was done, and the man knows his salmon. Devin ordered the Pad Thai, which was probably the best I've ever had. The noodles were very thin compared to the rice stick noodles that are usually used for Pad Thai, and it was also hot enough to excite my spice-seeking palate, even when ordered at medium-spicy.
Then came dessert. One of my favorite things in the world is sticky rice with mango, so we ordered that. They put a dessert platter together for us that included the rice, mango, some coconut ice cream, and some fried bananas. They do their fried bananas in phyllo dough, which is something I'd never seen before, and I loved it. Do not skip dessert, even if it means taking some of your main course home like we did.
The service was excellent, and I'm not just saying that because our waiter was one of our bowling buddies. They were attentive, and when we asked to take about five different things home, they took the plates away and boxed everything separately for us. Most impressive and refreshing: My Dad asked the waiter what he should order from two choices, and the waiter honestly told him which dish he liked better (the salmon), instead of pulling the, "Well, they're both good..." junk that waitstaff usually gives you when you ask for a recommendation.
I thought the price was incredible considering how much food we had. Including food, drinks, dessert, and two hours of just fun eating, we walked out at less than $40 a person. Parking is convenient, abundant, and free.
I can see why people call this place the best Thai restaurant in America. It's the best one that I've been to. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this restaurant.
*Look for upcoming reviews of Nobu, Firefly, and 777. I figure Lotus deserves its own entry.