Sherman's Food Adventures: Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam

Okay, Lotus of Siam is another restaurant that has been on my bucket list for quite some time.  Every time I've visited Vegas, there is always a reason that prevents me from going.  From the guys not wanting to travel so far for food (this was based on the old location) to not having enough time in 2019, it was such a shame that I was stuck with expensive food along the strip.  Now I'm not saying Lotus of Siam is necessarily cheap, but at the very least, the food is interesting.

We came armed with a list of what we wanted to try and it included the Nam Kao Tod with crispy rice, sour pork sausage, cilantro, green onions, ground dry chilis, sliced ginger, peanuts & lime juice.  Aromatic, nutty and acidic, this mix of ingredients was appetizing and light.  For those who like exotic flavors, this is the appie for you.  Lots of cilantro and dry chilis meant this was spicy and pungent.  There was also layers of texture from the crispy rice as well as the peanuts.

My favorite dish was the Crispy Garlic Prawns with shells on, but with the actual prawn de-shelled.  Hence, there was a complete contrast in textures with the meaty prawn itself having a buttery rebound texture while the shell was super crunchy.   That garlic pepper sauce was so money as it was intensely aromatic and impactful.  The natural prawn aroma and sweetness still came through though.

Continuing on with their greatest hits, we had the Chilean Sea Bass with Saam Rod Sauce.  This is the only fried version and I thought it was excellent.  Buttery soft and flaky (which is hard to do with halibut), the fried halibut was as advertised - crispy on the outside.  The only choice of sauce for the fried version was a sweet and sour with peppers and onions.  I found this rather mild with more sweet than sour.  Loved the crunchy texture of the peppers.

Killing two birds with one stone, we got the Short Rib Khao Soi.  Hey, my son loves short rib and I love Khao Soi!   This version was pretty good with an aromatic and creamy coconutty base with perfectly cooked egg noodles.  This was a good compromise between being rich, yet still retaining a viscosity that was still drinkable.  As for the short rib, it was tender and moist.  It was the perfect protein to soak up all of the sauce.

Another one of their "must order" items is the Crispy Duck.  We paired it with a Panang Curry which was sweet but balanced by the chilis and peppers.  With just the right amount of coconut milk, this was creamy and rich while not being too heavy.  Of course this went well with some white rice.  However, the star of the show was the crispy duck.  It liked up to its namesake with crunchy rendered skin and tender duck meat.  Absolutely delicious.

Now for the dud of the meal - the Pad See Ew.  Yes, this is not one of their "Mom's Delights" and it definitely showed.  I found the noodles to be clumpy and mostly broken.  Flavors were relatively mild and the dish was in need of more seasoning.  I did appreciate that it wasn't overly greasy, but then again, the dish ate dry.  The slices of beef were also dry and quite chewy.  A bit disappointing considering how good the other dishes were so far.

Back to the good stuff, we had the Kha Nom Jean Nam Ngyow.  This consisted of a tomato base pork stew with ground pork, blood chunks, spare ribs, fried garlic and cilantro and rice vermicelli noodles. On the side, we found bean sprouts, sliced cabbage and dry chili pods.  I found this quite different than all of the other dishes we had so far.  The tomato broth was not super tangy, but there was a good amount of tomato flavor.  Noodles were a touch clumpy, but separated easily.  I liked this dish, but it wasn't as impactful as the crispy duck, prawns or halibut (if you had to choose between them).

One of the smallest dishes we had was the Kang Hung Lay (Braised pork and pork belly in dried herbs and spices).  It might've been a tiny portion, but it did pack plenty of flavor.  There was a deep meatiness to it due to the pork fat, so in turn, there was also umami and richness.  In terms of trying to pick out the herbs and spices, I could definitely get the lemongrass and galangal as well as the brininess of fermented shrimp.  There was also a good amount of palm sugar to give the dish some sweetness as well as background notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Even though we only had the four of us, we didn't hold back with our last savory dish in the Nua Sao Renu (Ribeye Steak) served on a bed of shredded cabbage, topped lotus-style tamarind sauce and fried dry chili.  This perfectly medium-rare steak was pretty tender and moist.  There was a decent char on it, although it was not apparent with all of the tamarind sauce on top.  About that sauce, as expected, the tamarind afforded a sweet tanginess which was appetizing and went well with the meat.

We ended off with a classic dessert in the Mango Sticky Rice.  I can't say this was any better than other good versions I've had, yet this was still satisfying nonetheless.  The rice was soft and sticky with a slight chew. 
It was aromatic and sweet from the sugar and coconut milk.  
 The toasted mung beans added some crunch.    Mango was fresh being sweet and tangy.  Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Lotus of Siam and some dishes were outstanding.  However, maybe it is all the hype surrounding created unrealistic expectations.  I would still recommend you check it out, but stick to the greatest hits and your will be happy.

The Good:
- "Mom's Delights" are truly delicious
- Excellent service
- Comfy dining space

The Bad:
- On the pricier side
- Other items on the menu YMMV


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