I haven't seen much discussion of Lawrence eateries here lately and thought I'd chime in about a new place that just opened up.
The restaurant is called Thai Siam and it's on 6th street right near Kasold in the strip mall near Ace Hardware. The store was originally a Subway and the familiar yellow tables and counter are still in place. The owners have done a great job, however, in decorating the place with various decorations from Thailand including a marvelous glittered portrait of the king and queen of Thailand.
Thai Siam offers Chinese food as well as Thai and this is where they really excell. Behind the counter they have a number of primarily Chinese dishes sitting in a steam table. These entrees are available as part of some good value combo plates and dinners. Given the importance of freshness in both Chinese and Thai cuisines I was not tempted to try the stem table offerings.
We started our meal with an indulgence - Crab Rangoon. Although fairly "inauthentic" these little pillows of cream cheese are a good opener as a way to determine a restaurant's deep-frying skills. I'm happy to say the crab rangoon were perfectly fried and quite tasty. They did include the usual "krab" which I notice some places in Kansas omit.
As our next course we enjoyed Chicken with Bail leaves which was basically a basil chicken stir fry - a bit light on the fish sauce but with plenty of heat! The chicken was delicate and the flavors sang in harmony. I had hoped for minced chicken with the basil, but it seems Thai - Siam uses a more Chinese style of cutting their meat.
Next we were presented with the Green Pork curry which really was the star of the meal. Oily, very hot, and buttery - the green curry's flavors held up in complexity with the best I've had a notable Thai restaurants in Chicago. The pork was fairly tame in flavor and was cut in the same style as the chicken, but the dish overall was highly enjoyable. Even the bamboo shoots were cut to a thin delicate size which added excellent texture to the dish. This is a must-have dish!
Along with the curry we were served Pork Fried Rice w/ Basil which was delicious although was a bit of overkill as far as flavors go. It really was a more chinese style fried rice than I'm used to in a Thai restaurant but it was tasty nonetheless.
Service was quite friendly and personable. It was clear that they are still working out kinks, as we did wait for about 20 minutes while out entrees were being prepared. This, of course, is still preferable to the steam table. I can imagine this becoming a more major issue if there were a number of tables ordering off the menu - when we were there most diners were (unwisely) choosing items from the steam table.
All our dishes had plenty of heat - we did specify when ordering that we wanted our dishes spicy. Next time we will ask for slightly less spicy!
My biggest criticism of Thai Siam is that although it is excellent at replicating a certain segment of Thai flavors, it is somewhat a one trick pony. There was no larb to be found, nor were there any papaya salad or similar thai salads. They do have a beef salad for 9.95 that perhaps I will try sometime. Hopefully with time they will begin to expand their Thai offerings and work on differentiating their Chinese cuisine with their Thai cuisine by offering some dishes that use ground/minced meat and a broader range of flavors.
Overall Thai-Siam is a great addition to the Lawrence restaurant scene. It's a nice, family owned causal joint which has lots of potential. Just remember to skip the steam table and order from the menu!