It took a year and a half (and one missed opportunity) before I got to finally try the "real" Lotus of Siam. LOS chef Saipin Chutima had briefly flirted with Manhattan last year, opening a branch on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Steve went (and posted) when the chef was still in the house, but she swiftly returned to Las Vegas, leaving her newest franchise to fend for itself before pulling out entirely earlier this year. When we went at the end of December, it was a dim, half empty place. We liked our meal, but it was not worth the markup (although we did have a fantastic Reisling with our meal).
Luckily, I got a taste of the real Lotus of Siam only hours before flying back to New York City from Las Vegas (which turned into a two-legged, fourteen hour Spirit Airlines adventure). The practical effect of having to catch the flight was that we were limited to what we could fit in our stomachs (and no leftovers!).
However, obsessive research had led me to the following four absolutely necessary dishes.
Our Issan style deep fried beef jerky with a spicy sauce (nua dad deow) arrived first. The jerky was thickly cut and chewy, but not overly so. Unfortunately, the spicy sauce seemed bland (we hadn't asked for this particularly spicy, especially since my mother likes food significantly less spicy than my father and I).
Tom kah kai (inexplicably not pictured) had a sharp undertone of lemongrass balanced by the creaminess of the coconut soup. We requested this moderately spicy , but the spoonfuls containing chili delivered the heat. We'd eaten the same dish at the Manhattan branch, but here each individual flavor was far more focused.
Crispy Duck Penang was the best version I've ever had (I'm still a Thai novice, so that's not saying much). Better than the "stunning" version at Ayada Thai in Queens, we'd ordered this a 9/10 spiciness and it delivered the heat. The duck was crisp and meaty, with a light batter.
The tastiness of the Hor Mok sea bass was in inverse proportion to its foil-wrapped presentation (think cumin lamb at Little Pepper). Cooked in coconut milk, cabbage, egg and a curry sauce, it had a complex flavor while remaining tender.
Yellow chicken curry was my mother's dish (not on my list of necessities). I had a few bites, but don't remember it very well.
Fantastic (but abbreviated) meal. I know the first place I'm going next time in Vegas.
Lotus of Siam
953 East Sahara Avenue, Suite A5
Las Vegas, Nevada 89104