Lotus of Siam
953 East Sahara Ave. #A5
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Also joining us on our Thai food adventure is my longtime friend Steve, and his friend, Jason. They both just happened to be in Vegas attending their yearly conference, so we decided to have dinner with them before they had to fly out the next morning. I could kind of sense that they were both new to Thai food, but they seemed pretty excited to give it a try. Maybe they just loved our company.
For someones first time having Thai food, eating at Lotus of Siam is kind of like going from being a high school football player, and going straight to the pros, playing your first game in Cowboy Stadium in front of 80,000 people. Of course if you're on the Cowboys, most people expect you to lose anyways, so there's probably not that much pressure. Sorry about that Steve, I had to slip that in there.
Lotus of Siam has been on tons of TV shows, been written about numerous times, and has a steady stream of taxi cabs coming from the strip dropping off hungry tourists. Owner and Chef Saipin Chutima has owned this place since 1999, and won a James Beard Award in 2011 as best chef in the Southwest. As if all of this was not enough, there are tons of pictures all over the restaurant of all the famous celebrities that have eaten here over the years.
We arrived here on a Thursday evening at about 7:30, and were met with a 45 minute wait. No worries for us though, because we found a dive bar in this desolate shopping center, enjoyed a few cocktails, and listened to a know it all bartender telling some tall tales. Both Steve and Jason really enjoyed this guys company, but we finally got the call on Katie's phone that our table was ready, so we settled up with our new friend.
Lotus of Siam features food from Northern Thailand. I'm by no means an expert on Thai food, but I can tell you that the food of Northern Thailand is generally a little more mild than that from the south. The menu here is pretty hefty, and whether you are into seafood, curries, noodles, fried rice, or one of the northern specialties, you will most likely find something to your liking here. Let's see if that was the case for the four of us on this evening.
Starting things off for us were two appetizers, the first of which were these Fried Wontons ($7.95). These fried pockets were filled with ground chicken, and served with a house made sweet and sour sauce. These were fried well, with the absence of grease, but they needed to be filled a little more than they were. The ground chicken did not shine here. We'd probably forgo these on future visits.
One of my favorite things to try in Thai restaurants is satay, so we definitely needed to try the Chicken Satay ($10.95) at Lotus of Siam. This was an excellent version. The chicken was tender, and flavored nicely, and the peanut sauce here is out of this world. If I could have, I would have asked that this sauce be packed up to go, and I'd use it sparingly when I got it home to make it last as long as possible. This was also served with a cucumber salad, which kind of got neglected at our table.
The real reason I think Katie wanted to make a return visit to this restaurant was because of this Tom Kah Kai Soup ($4.95). She has been trying to find a local replacement for the one served here, with no luck. This Bangkok style soup comes with sliced chicken, mushrooms, galanga, which I learned is a root that resembles ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, and a touch of fresh lime. A complex soup, but simple in taste, she of course enjoyed this immensely, and is still on the lookout for another version that can equal this one.
Entrees were up next, and we'll start things off with my good friend Steve's meal. He kept things pretty basic here with his choice of Sweet and Sour Chicken ($9.95). This had everything you would expect from this dish, pineapple, tomatoes, cucumber, red and green bell peppers, green and white onion, and it was topped with cilantro. He felt this was a good version, but it did not dazzle him. He'd definitely try something else if he were to come here again.
Katie's meal was probably the best of the night. She could not be happier with this Pad Se-Ew ($8.95), even claiming that this was the best version of this dish she has ever had. Very high praise indeed for this noodle dish that also had eggs, Chinese broccoli, black soy sauce, and some very tender beef. After two trips to Lotus of Siam, she has now found her perfect meal here, and will probably not deviate from it.
When I knew we would be coming here for a return dinner, I checked out Yelp for their most popular items, and the one that kept popping up were these Garlic Prawns ($27.95). They were mentioned in over 300 reviews, so I had to give them a try. The prawn portion of these was great, with a very good burst of garlic in each bite. Good sized, and they were cooked well. I did not really like the shell portion of these, which was attached to the prawn. The menu states that these are like potato chips, but after eating a few of them, I decided they weren't for me. A very good dish though, and I'm glad I had the chance to try it, even though this did not fill me up too much.
Probably not the best choice for someone having their first Thai food experience, Jason went with the Seafood Pad Ped ($17.95). This seafood combination dish was filled with crab, octopus, shrimp, and other seafood, along with a roasted curry paste, mushrooms, lemon grass, lime juice, and mint leaves. Jason was very game with this dish, which was not what he was expecting. He enjoyed the flavor of the sauce, but found the seafood here not to be of his liking. Maybe he should have started with one of their very good curry dishes, or maybe a pad Thai. He does get points for at least trying everything in his bowl. I have a sneaky suspicion that he and Steve went by In-N-Out on their way back to their hotel after this meal.
Even though I would have liked to have tried a new restaurant on our last night in Vegas, I was more than happy to make Katie happy with a return meal to Lotus of Siam. The Thai food here is pretty legendary, and I really would not mind another trip here when we are back in Vegas. The menu is so large, it almost rivals Cheesecake Factory, and it would take numerous times to try a good cross section of it. For this restaurant being as popular as it is, the prices are more than fair. Service was pretty good on this night, until we straggled after our dinner talking, and it was clear that they wanted to close up shop and wanted us to leave, which is understandable. It's always good getting together with our good friend Steve, and our new friend Jason. Next time you guys can pick the restaurant.
Out of five water lilies, (because lotus is another name for these aquatic plants), five being best to zero being worst, Lotus of Siam gets 4 water lilies.
For more information about Lotus of Siam, go to their website here: http://lotusofsiamlv.com/