Monday, September 13, 2010

Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas)

After spending my first day in Las Vegas braving triple digit temperatures while trying to shop and lounge poolside and jockeying for breathing space in a crowded nightclub, I reached a conclusion: Sin City and I were at odds. Don't get me wrong, I fancy shopping, sunning and dolling myself up just as much as the next girly girl, but I enjoy none of the above when I feel as though my internal organs are slowly roasting. Fortunately, I found a friend in another Vegas pasttime. Eating. And it allowed me to be indoors.

One of J's requests for our weekend getaway was a trip to Lotus of Siam, a Thai restaurant he remembered fondly from a family vacation. His (repeated) laudatory review aroused both my curiosity and my skepticism. Is this place really that good? With this in mind, we headed off the strip to the restaurant.
Lotus of Siam sits in an unassuming plaza populated largely by various ethnic restaurants. None of the taco shops, Korean BBQ/ karaoke joints, or Japanese restaurants, however, had a 45-minute wait like our intended dinner spot. Although I was disappointed by the large gap in time that stood between me and my favorite Vegas activity, I was intrigued that a restaurant so far removed from the hustle and bustle of the strip boasted such a waiting list.

As we waited, I read several of the many articles about the restaurant posted on the walls, scouring for info and tips on what to order. I soon learned that 1) the restaurant prided itself on its authentic Northern Thai cuisine prepared by chef and owner Saipin Chutima, 2) the must-order appetizer was nam kao tod, 3) Lotus of Siam was nominated for a James Beard award and 4) that the esteemed Jonathon Gold called it "the single best Thai restaurant in Northern America" in a piece for Gourmet Magazine. Hot damn! I was officially excited.
After making friends with the hosts, we snagged a table when a party failed to respond to their name being called and quickly got down to business ordering. I started with a Thai iced tea, which was refreshing but decidedly heavier on tea than milk, and I prefer the creamy, milky inverse.
Per my waiting room research, we began with the omni-reviewed nam kao tod ($7.95) as an appetizer. Featuring minced sour sausage, crispy rice, ginger, green onions, fresh chili and lime juice, each bite of the dish delivered a zing straight to the tastebuds followed by a pleasant but heated kick. The powerful flavors were tempered by cool sprigs of Thai basil and rounded out texturally by the crunch of the peanuts. I almost switched from a fork to a spoon to be able to eat more with each bite (pesky fork tines).
After receiving a sterling recommendation for the garlic prawns ($19.95) from another waitlister, J selected the "chef's choice" dish as his entree. The puffy, deep-fried prawns delivered a strong garlicky flavor reminiscent of the famed fare of Giovanni's Shrimp Truck in Hawai'i, but the ground pepper which topped them prevented the garlic from becoming cloying.

Garlic Prawns @ Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas)

Feeling adventurous, I decided to order something other than my favorite--pad thai--opting instead for crispy duck on drunken noodles ($20.95). Rosy slivers of crunchy duck topped with Thai basil arrived perched atop deeply flavored, spicy pan-fried flat rice noodles. A striking combination of flavors and textures, this dish was a lovely reward for my deviation from the status quo.
So, to answer my own question I posed in the beginning: Yes, this place really is that good.

Lotus of Siam
953 E. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 735-3033

Lotus of Siam on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow! Color me officially intrigued. That duck is calling me.

  2. Almost went here during my last trip to Vegas. Friend and I had heard good things, but we felt we couldn't be sure. Now I'm bummed I didn't. However, second chance in October! I'll be sure to get the duck! Yum!

  3. i haven't been to vegas in almost a year. SHIT. i need to go so i can eat and party... looks like ill need to hit up this place as well. hope u and j had fun!!!

  4. i've always wondered about this spot. thought maybe it's good because there are very few other Thai options in Vegas. Sounds like it really is worth the stop

  5. @WeezerMonkey: As good as the duck was, the noodles were frakking great!

    @Kristen: Doooo it!

    @Nelehelen: HAH. It's so close! Long weekend maybe?...

    @StuffyCheaks: I went along with it sort of grudgingly and was very pleasantly surprised. Give it a try the next time you're there!