Final days of our trip to Las Vegas from August 10-14th.
Dinner at the famous LOTUS OF SIAM. We’d been looking forward to eating at this celebrated noshing spot for quite some time. Both of us started with the Thai lime drink, which was like an extra sour limeade. My wife, who loves sour, thought it was just fine. I thought it was a wee bit too sour, but knowing the importance of balancing and contrasting flavors, I decided to reserve judgment until I tasted it with my food. A good idea. Appetizer was the often-mentioned Nam Kao Tod (minced sour sausage, green onion, chili, ginger, peanuts, lime juice and crispy rice). A very different and pleasant tasting experience that set the tone for the entrees.
First entrée was Kang Care (northern menu red curry, without coconut milk) with chicken. We both love curries without coconut milk and were not disappointed with this dish. It had a great spicy, sour taste with nice big chunks of chicken and vegetables. Eaten over rice, it is almost like a stew. Very delicious and ordered at spice level 5, had a nice kick, but was not overwhelming.
Second entrée was drunken noodle with chicken (our “control” dish for comparison to other Thai restaurants). Once again, the complementary flavors made this dish quite good. The wide egg noodles were chewy and delicious and the diced chicken was moist and flavorful. The spice level 5 seemed a bit tame, so on this dish we probably would kick it up a notch or two.
Our overall impression of Lotus is that their food is definitely on-par with the good Thai food we have eaten in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Next day lunch at COMMANDER’S PALACE (again). No martinis this time (we were gearing up for a six-hour drive home). My wife enjoyed Friday’s lunch so much she ordered the same thing again (turtle soup and a shrimp and oyster half-n-half po-boy) only she varied things by starting at the oyster side instead of the shrimp side of the sandwich. I ordered from the 1880 menu: a twice-baked small potato with salmon mousse (appetizer), the alligator andouille gumbo ya-ya (entrée), and beignets for dessert. The potato was a pleasant surprise: I wasn’t sure the salmon and twice-baked potato were going to match up well, but I was quite pleased and enjoyed the novelty of the combination. It was served on a bed of light greens with a green onion emulsion. The salmon, creamy potato, and slightly vinegary greens made a tasty grouping.
The gumbo ya-ya was delicious. Served from a small tureen with a scoop of popcorn rice, the gumbo was smooth (I suspect the gumbo vegetables are pureed into the soup) and creamy (probably a nice touch of cream). It had small pieces of alligator andouille and smoked chicken for a bit of texture. My first couple of tastes of this dish I thought that it seemed a bit plain, but as I ate I found myself enjoying it more and more until by the end I was sorry it was all gone. Perhaps it is a dish that requires an adjustment of the palate to subtle flavors.
The beignets were delicious: soft and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside: a perfect balance between an inside that is almost underdone and an outside that is almost overdone. We remarked that it must take special talent and technique to know exactly how to achieve that balance. The cafe au lait sauce for garnish is lightly flavored and a perfect quotation of Café du Monde’s sugary/coffee treat.
Lotus of Siam
953 E. Sahara Ave., Ste. A-5 (3/4 mile east of Sahara Hotel)
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Desert Passage at Aladdin (changing to Hollywood Planet)
3663 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Suite 730
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109