Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Strip Mall Thai Excellence!

Several months ago, friends were in Las Vegas for a conference and being that LV is a lot closer to Desertville than Indiana is, we drove in to see them. We had some good dim sum, a nice visit, and got a recommendation from them for somewhere to eat. The night before, they had gone with a local colleague to a Thai restaurant that was delicious, most of all, but also had walls plastered with accolades from every possible source.

We tried going there a couple months ago, but we couldn't get through on the phone to make a reservation and when we got there without one, it was a 45 minute wait and Little Girl wasn't going to last that long. From that experience, however, we learned that the restaurant, Lotus of Siam, is in that strangest strip mall ever, along with a pool hall, a Korean church, several other restaurants, a few Asian groceries, and LV's LGBT center. Trust me on this one -- this is a weird, weird place.

Yesterday, we had to go to LV for some business-y sort of stuff. It's always a big deal to go because we get groceries, try to get some playground time for Little Girl, run errands, etc. One thing about living in the middle of nowhere is that every time you get somewhere, you have to take advantage of it. Because we're about to leave this part of the world, we decided to take advantage of being in LV and try Lotus of Siam. We made reservations the day before, so we were good.

The restaurant is nothing fancy. The decor could use some updating, the ceiling tiles are disgustingly dirty in many places, and there's a big, banged-up buffet station right in the middle of the whole thing (for lunch buffets during the week). But how could several years of Gourmet magazine, Zagat's, LA Times food section, the Rosengarten Report and everyone else who raves about this place be wrong? Lotus of Siam has been called the best Thai restaurant in the United States, it's made lists of the top fifty restaurants in the country -- this is big praise!

And all deserved. We had some some quibbles over service (no drink refills were ever offered for example), but the food was fantastic. We ordered pad Thai for Little Girl (and for ourselves as a standard test case). It was very good, although I like different noodles than they used. I know that this is an incredibly picky detail, but I just loved the way they cut their green onions, and the fact that they used small ones so the bites of green onion weren't bites of green onion.

I had a coconut milk based red curry with tofu. I meant to order the sticky rice (which costs $2 extra than the steamed rice it came with), but forgot. I love sticky rice. The curry had loads of fresh Thai basil and bamboo shoots and the fragrance was amazing. The flavor was excellent, too, and it was all gone before we left.

Husband, I think, ordered the winning dish last night -- thank goodness we had agreed to exchange part of our dishes before they actually came to the table. He ordered the pad sw-ew (how it appeared on the menu; I've usually seen it pad see ew) and it was to die for. Perfectly cooked Chinese broccoli and tofu squares among big broad noodles sauced to perfection. If we hadn't already been eating Little Girl's pad Thai, I'd would have seriously considered getting a second order of these noodles. They were just so good.

Unfortunately, their northern menu, which they are especially famous for, was pretty meat heavy. We considered ordering the spicy mushroom dip, but held off in part because Little Girl loves mushrooms and might not be thrilled about a mushroom dish that was too spicy for her to eat. We might try to get back there again before the move, but I don't think I'll hold my breath. We've already got a dinner date in LV coming up (and it includes a baby sitter!), and I can't imagine we're going to get there many more times before we leave.

Watch this space, though, for the next restaurant review, because Friday night, we're eating tapas!

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