I figure that everyone has a favorite neighborhood restaurant; you know, the place that's cozy, comfortable, predictable, and, well, good.
I do: Siam Bay, a Thai restaurant in El Segundo. Over the last 1 1/2 years, my wife and I have eaten their food (usually as takeout) more than 75 times. That's way more than any other restaurant either of us have ever visited.
In that time, I've only mentioned the restaurant on Chowhound once. It never seemed Chowhound-y enough - how could the food compare to the authentic restaurants of Thai town in Hollywood?
After a dinner there last night, I know two things:
a) Their food (and everyone's) is a lot better when it hasn't sat in styrofoam container for 20 minutes
b) Their food is an amazing value
We began our meal with a Thai salad: crisp iceberg lettuce layered with superb crispy noodles and fried tofu, and a peanut dressing the consistency of peanut butter.
Their egg rolls (and won tons) are also quite special - both are vegetarian, a true rarity in our experience. The egg rolls are perfectly fried; last night the filling was a bit peppery, but still excellent. (Their won tons, which we did not have last night, might be their single best dish: they are filled with a curried potato, yet are not quite as samosa-like as they might sound. Great stuff - and they serve many, many won tons with each order.)
For our main courses, we went with the old standby of Pad Thai, and asked one of the owners to surprise us with something "authentic." Cheesy request, sure, but we wanted to push ourselves. He brough crispy tofu with Chinese broccoli ("this is a Thai specialty?" noted my wife), and it was indeed distinctive and excellent. The sauce was simple, but delicate - a sweet and savory soy based concoction, and it paired marvelously with the crispy broccolini-like vegetable.
(We brought our own bottle of wine, a Leeuwin Estate 1998 Art Series Riesling. Great wine, but a little too "petrol-esque" for the food.)
I'm as wary to hear the true thoughts of Chowhound posters about our favorite restaurant as a parent is to hear a teacher's reviews of their child. But still, I just have to take a stand on behalf of neighborhood restaurants everywhere.
130 E Grand Ave
El Segundo, CA 90245