On the Ebob wine forums and Chowhound I keep hearing about a restaurant in Las Vegas named Lotus of Siam. A thai restaurant that everyone flocks to from all over the country. Some food critics have even proclaimed it the best Thai restaurant in America. I told this to my friends in LA and everyone scoffed, for us we’re lucky enough to be in one of the most culturally diverse cities in America with well priced dishes and tasty varieties. But not one to ignore the “best” of anything, I decided to give it a shot.
Located on Sahara Blvd in a random strip mall (so random we drove by it and had to make a U-turn) the restaurant is seriously in the middle of nowhere. We found the restaurant when we saw every person that got out of their car went into the same place. It’s a small restaurant, its not decorative, it’s a simple Thai restaurant that doesn’t stand out from any other except for the walls and walls of photos of the owner with people.
At lunch they have a buffet which we were told to avoid. Probably 90% of the restaurant was eating the buffet. For ourselves we ordered off the menu. Mystery Eater wanted to try the Pad Thai, which one reviewer proclaimed to the best Pad Thai he’s ever eaten. I wanted to try the beef jerky every single person seems to rave about, and we allowed the waiter to pick out a dish for us.
First off, the beef jerky is seriously thick slices of peppered beef jerky ($8.95).
You get a side of sliced cabbage, some dipping sauce and a pretty generous portion of jerky. Sadly.. its just beef jerky, albeit its tasty beef jerky, but I have no idea why everyone loves this dish so much. I am actually perplexed, unless the cities they live in do not have any kind of jerky at all, I can’t suggest this dish to anyone but the most obsessive of beef jerky lovers.
Next is the Pad Thai ($8.95)I know, very unassuming. Mystery Eater found it good, but not the best she’s ever had. I myself.. do not believe it stood out in flavor from any of the other Pad Thai I’ve had. Its light, not overly salty or fruity which seems to plague a lot of Pad Thai, but a mild flavor. It was a little short in ingredients (chicken/egg) but I found the real star of the Pad Thai to be the noodles itself. What happens with most Pad Thai is the excessive amount of clumped noodles, over cooked, undercooked or what not. But the Pad Thai noodles here were perfect. They did a really good job with cooking the noodles. Wouldn’t say it’s the best “overall” Pad Thai I’ve ever had, but the noodles themselves were definitely A+.
The final dish we had was the Beef stew with Cognac. The waiter suggested the dish, it wasn’t on the main menu and I don’t believe it was on the “secret” menu either (didn’t get a good look). ($15).
Strips of thick beef in a coconut, basil, cognac infused sauce. The coconut milk flavor was strong, but not overwhelming, it gave the dish a sweetness that matched the bits of cognac that you would taste at the back of your mouth. The beef was so so tender. Deliciously made, cooked with no red/pink in the middle yet perfectly tender. I really liked this dish. The beef was exceptional and the sauce wasn’t so strong that you had to eat it with tons of rice. I highly suggest this dish if you ever come to LOS, it’s a real treat, I’m glad it was suggested to me.
Now do I find this to be the best Thai restaurant in America? I don’t know... I find it really hard to qualify restaurants like this as “best”. I can say its better than a lot of Thai restaurants I’ve had, but most of the flavors are so similar that you really can’t say one is head over heels the best over any of the others, for all we know the tender beef and perfect noodles were a fluke. I can’t say which is the best Chinese restaurant nor can I say which is the best Thai restaurant. Like I said before, I can say what’s on the top of my list and Lotus of Siam is pretty good and pretty up there. The prices are EXTREMELY reasonable, they aren’t out of line from San Diego prices or even some LA Thai restaurants.
If you want to save money while in Vegas (who doesn’t?) go to Lotus of Siam. You’ll be full of yummy home style cooking for a good price.