So, this is a little series I’m starting about food, entertainment, and travel. I will simply fill in Best ____ I Ever ____ and tell you all about it!
To start off, let’s go with one that’s in fairly recent memory. The best Thai food I have ever had. This was on a trip to Las Vegas in 2016. My oldest brother has somehow become a foodie. Not sure how that happened since I remember a time he wouldn’t even eat pizza. And then he wouldn’t anything BUT pizza. But hey, anyone is capable of expanding their palate! He lives in the Los Angeles area, so he has access to quite good food. He decided to come out to Vegas to visit while my husband was attending a conference. We had some fun adventures trying out tasty food in Vegas. The Strip obviously has a lot of offer. For our last meal, though, we decided to do something a little different.
TripAdvisor can be invaluable when selecting restaurants. We were in the mood for Asian, and someone in our party stumbled upon the best Thai restaurant in town: the Lotus of Siam. So, the three of us went off to dinner. You have to drive way down the Strip by the Stratosphere and then turn off. It’s in a strip mall that wraps around to make a square. It didn’t look like much, and many of the shops in the plaza were vacant. The rest seemed like a bunch of stereotypes: bars, karaoke bars, dry cleaners, and nail salons. Not kidding. There were probably at least three of each. And one church.
When we arrived, there were people milling about outside the restaurant. Well, that’s always a good sign! And when you’re eating non-American food, it’s an even better sign if the patrons seem to be the same ethnicity as the food you are about to consume. Second good sign! My brother went inside to put our name down, and it was a forty-five minute wait. As we weren’t super hungry yet, and I spotted a James Beard award in the foyer, we went ahead and put our name down. More good signs! We ended up driving around in circles a little bit and running into a convenience store before my brother’s phone received a text that our table was ready.
I was actually surprised at how large the dining room was. There are several rooms, and it seems to go on and on. After we sat down, I started to look at the pictures on the walls. Every single one of them featured who I presumed to be the owner of the place and a celebrity. There were so many mirrored walls, and all of them were COVERED with these pictures. As if the previous signs weren’t enough, now I knew this place was going to be impressive. Looking at their Facebook page today, I see pictures posted with Drew Barrymore, Anderson Cooper, and Pharell!
The menu is absolutely massive. Pages and pages of dishes I had never heard of. My vegetarian husband found plenty of choices (though he did have to speak with the waiter about whether or not there was fish sauce in his dish). My brother ordered something adventurous that I can’t remember. I decided to be less adventurous and ordered chicken pad Thai with no bean sprouts or cilantro. (Yeah, I’m one of those people. Cilantro tastes like soap to me.) My brother also ordered a glass of wine. It’s worth noting that the meal and drink for the three of us was considerably cheaper than anywhere on the Strip my brother and I had eaten while dining for two.
I have had pad Thai many different places, and I just love it. It’s popular for a reason! And I have to tell you that this dish, this pad Thai, was so far above any noodle dish I have ever consumed. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and the noodles were just the perfect texture and delicious. But what put it above all others for me was the balance of flavor. Obviously, I could taste saltiness from the soy sauce, sweetness from the tamarind, earthiness from the peanuts, but I have never before had those flavors so perfectly balanced with acidity. That may sound weird, and I don’t know what else was in there besides lime to give it that balance, but it just put it in its own league. It was divine.
My brother and I tasted each other’s dishes. Big mistake on my part! His was loaded with cilantro! Blech! But after he tasted mine, he tried to abscond across the table with my noodles. It was that good. (I didn’t let him.)
I cannot recommend the Lotus of Siam highly enough. If you are Vegas, you simply must try it. Be prepared for a wait and know that it will be well worth it.