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mikec

Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas)

35 posts in this topic

Went to Lotus Siam for lunch a few days ago while in Vegas.

This place is hidden in a strip mall and this keeps the general tourists away but is sought out by locals and foodies.

I went around 12:30pm for lunch. They serve a lunch buffet, but I wanted to try things from the menu and am glad I did.

To start, I ordered Tom Yum Kai as a benchmark. It was very good. Spicy but not overpowering. However, it did take them 15 minutes to bring me what I can only presume was a pre-made bowl of soup.

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For my main course, I ordered Grilled Fresh-water Prawns w/Chili Lime Sauce. Don't let the $29 price tag for "prawns" scare you, because you get 2 true Prawns, almost the size of lobsters. Served head-on, which I love. Very tasty...highly recommended. Order it with Sticky rice.

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I knew that if things went according to schedule, we'd arrive in Las Vegas in time to hit Lotus of Siam for lunch -- and that was my plan. Since our other 3 meals in Vegas were already set, this would be our lone opportunity. According to what I gathered from their web site, lunch service ended at 2:30. Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 11:45 am. No problem.

After a quick stop and drop at the hotel, a cab deposited us at Lotus of Siam's front door at 2:10 pm. The lunch buffet (about which we did not even know) had ended at 2 pm but we were told that we could still order lunch from the regular menu. I never get this lucky at the gaming tables in Vegas. Had the buffet still been on, I would have had a hard time justifying the a la carte approach. I knew I'd probably get to sample more things via the buffet but I wasn't sure if they were items I really cared about. I glanced at the buffet offerings as the staff cleared them away and broke down the steam table. It was hard to tell, from my vantage point, what we had missed out on. Nonetheless, with the decision out of our hands, we happily sat down and looked over the menus.

The food at LoS really scratched the itch. The green papaya salad -- which we ordered with a heat factor of 5/10 -- was fantastic . . . sweet, hot, crunchy and totally addictive. We tried 2 types of house-made sausages, the first being a northern sausage (Sai Oua) which was a dried sausage, served hot. It was spicy and aromatic with ginger. The second sausage, an Issan sausage, was a tangier, fermented sausage which contained alcohol (at least, I suspected this and our server confirmed it). At first, I was sure I liked the northern sausage better but as I continued to taste both of them, it was harder to tell which of the delicious sausages was my favorite. The fried chicken dumplings were also excellent. Their exteriors were crispy then chewy and the filling was bold and deep in flavor -- as much as any dumpling filling I've ever tasted.

We also ordered a 'personal best' version of Pork Pad Sw-ew that contained some of the most satisfying noodles it has ever been my pleasure to bite into. They were nicely browned with a perfect density of chew which followed the initial bite. They were crispy, tender and delicate all at once. The sauce was typically sweet but with a balance that made me understand something new about this dish, which I often order. I was happy I tried this one.

My favorite dish was the lovingly-prepared, whole, deep-fried catfish with fresh and dry chilis, garlic, fresh Thai basil and crispy Thai basil. The fish was perfectly moist and tender and the crunchy-crispy skin trumped any fried chicken skin I have ever had. I was full and yet I could not stop eating this delectable, oily-fleshed catfish or its perfectly battered coating or the crispy basil leaves which adorned my plate. I realized that if I was going to get through the next 8 days of eating, I was going to have to -- at some point or another -- leave some food behind. A bittersweet moment.

By Vegas standards, LoS is a bargain. Our meal cost about $75 (before tip) and it was a feast that 3 of us could not finish, even though we tried. For Thai fans from Chicago, I think they'll find this food compares very favorably with their favorite places at home. Of course, it's all subjective but I thought Lotus of Siam's food was on a similar level as some of the most talked about places in Chicago.

I laughed to myself about how in a town like Vegas, a place like LoS kind of gets lost in the shuffle. Sure, folks like us know about it and talk about it but I doubt most locals do. But not even the cabbie who dropped us there knew it by name. We had to give him the street address. At the end of the meal, the cab which the LoS staff happily dispatched on our behalf, never showed up. That's when one of the kids who worked in the restaurant pulled his car up to the front door and offered us a ride to the cab stand at the Hilton, which is the hotel nearest LoS. Being that this was Vegas, that act of kindness was something for which I was not prepared. But that level of hospitality instantly reminded of our Thai places here in Chicago and it made me enjoy the memory of our fine meal at Lotus of Siam even more. I know I'm a softy but it never ceases to amaze me how the human connection so often helps great food reach its full potential. I couldn't have hoped for a better start to our trip.

=R=

Lotus of Siam

953 E. Sahara Ave.

Las Vegas, NV 89104

(702) 735-3033


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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RS,

Do you know if your "Thai Experts" from Chicago have tried LOS and where they rate it?

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Is LOS doable for a single diner? I will be in vegas for a meeting and one night will be alone. Is there an area or bar where I can dine alone?

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Is LOS doable for a single diner? I will be in vegas for a meeting and one night will be alone. Is there an area or bar where I can dine alone?

Trying to recall a bar... Really, I am not sure.

In either case, I don't think they will have any issues accomodating a solo diner.

As far as the buffet, all reports I read say don't do the buffet. It's standard chineese buffet. It's small, too. Really, the normal menu is where the action is, especially the separate Northern Thai menu.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Is LOS doable for a single diner? I will be in vegas for a meeting and one night will be alone. Is there an area or bar where I can dine alone?

There's no bar, but I dined there solo on a work trip recently. Really, it's just like any other Thai place in terms of size/decor (so it's not weird to be alone). I'd make a reservation for dinner and either get there right at 11:30 or plan on waiting, for lunch. I also got take out from there with no problem.

I had 4 things on 2 trips. 2-the egg noodle/curry dish on the northern Thai menu, and the green chili dip-were stellar (though I don't think steamed veggies made the best vehicle for the dip). The spicy glass noodle salad, which I ordered "medium" spicy when asked, would probably have been fantastic had it not been painfully spicy (and I do love spicy food-I eat tons of Szechuan. When they tag the menu items "spicy", believe them). The Tom Kah Kai was too salty and oily, and I wouldn't recommend it. All in all, though, it was great to see Thai dishes I wasn't familiar with, and I'd be so happy if a restaurant like this opened in my city.


Edited by kiliki (log)

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 Bill also told us of his plans for LOS and the possibility of expansion, but I’ll keep the details of that under my hat for now.

I know Lotus of Siam eventually ended up expanding to NYC, and I'm curious if there was any difference between their Las Vegas and NYC locations? (I also know that the owners later disassociated themselves from their NYC branch, but they were still involved and owners when those reviews were written).

I had a trip lined up to NYC so I was reading different restaurant reviews about their NYC location to find which dishes to order. But, now the trip to NYC has been postponed. Instead, I'll be going to Las Vegas first and I'm wondering if I can use the NYC reviews to guide me what dishes to pick in Las Vegas.

Normally, I'd stick to the Las Vegas reviews but I can't seem to find most of them. Jonathan Gold and David Rosengarten both wrote reviews about Lotus of Siam but I can't find them. And, what the hell ever happened to David Rosengarten?

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I went to the NYC Lotus of Siam about a week after the owners departed in high dudgeon. It was decidedly unimpressive.

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I went to the NYC Lotus of Siam about a week after the owners departed in high dudgeon. It was decidedly unimpressive.

And, the original Lotus of Siam is really no better. Their Vegas restaurant has okay flavors, small portions, and high prices. I kept returning to Lotus of Siam each time I went to Vegas, trying to understand all the hype.

Finally, after eavesdropping on another diner, I realized that almost everybody there was from NYC. When you think about it, its not a suprise that New Yorkers will think Lotus of Siam is great. There's not a lot of good options for Thai food in NYC so they'll go Lady Gaga the first time they encounter decent Thai food. And, food prices in NYC are going to be high just from rent alone so they'll be accustomed to paying for small portions and high prices that Lotus of Siam charges even though Lotus of Siam's rent is much, much less.


Edited by mcohen (log)

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There's not a lot of good options for Thai food in NYC

It's true there didn't used to be, especially if you didn't want to travel to Queens, but things are looking up:

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