on December 30, 2004
"The best Thai restaurant in North America"? According to Gourmet magazine and throngs of worshipful fans, among whom I count myself, the answer is a resounding YES. Located in a modest strip mall that houses some other ethnic restaurants and businesses, you might overlook it if you were unaware of the quality of the food here.
Decor is modest, like a mom-and-pop place should be, though with nice wood tables, gleaming and polished. Photographs of family, celebrities, and friends adorn the walls; remember you are there for the food.
Ignore the buffet, though it's reputed to be good enough. If you've done your research (a simple Google should suffice), you will know the cult status of the Northern Thai menu. Stand-out dishes include Nam Kao Tod ($7.95; crispy rice with sausage, lime, ginger, peanuts, chili, and lots of fresh herbs), Nua Dad Draw (marinated beef, fried and succulent), Tom Kha Gai soup ($8.95 serves two; chicken with coconut, lemongrass, etc.—the best I’ve ever had), and anything with catfish. You cannot go wrong.
If you are brave, you can merely ask owner Bill Chutima for guidance. The wine list is particularly well-suited to the spicy dishes, with plenty of German and Austrian wines, though I do wish they would include some Gruner Veltliners, the mineraliness of which complements spicy dishes very well. There is also a good selection of beers, which my husband prefers.
This is amazing, flavorful, aromatic, bright, intense, gorgeous food. It is made with love and served with delight. The wait staff has been uniformly well-informed (Tony, in particular, should you be lucky enough to sit in his station) and will guide you through the menu.
Huge thumbs up. Go there. Go now. We never leave Las Vegas without eating there at least once.
Lotus of Siam is located on East Sahara, nearest to the Sahara and the Hilton. Take a cab.
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