Sunday, June 15, 2008

Siam Cuisine

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Siam Cuisine
265 White Bridge Road

It seems that the best Thai food in Nashville is spread around the edges of the city. This may be due to cheaper rents and closer proximity to the neighborhoods around Nashville. White Bridge road has its own stretch of Thai. Siam Cuisine can be easy to miss. It’s located in a small strip mall and sports a small sign.

Inside you’ll find a very, very red interior that manages to be casual and reasonably inviting. Service was a little spotty throughout the dinner, although not so much as to cause distress.
Siam Cuisine has a clean, fresh take on Thai flavors that works on many levels and disappoints a bit on others. The vegetable Spring Rolls are a good example. They’re crisp, fresh and rather unassuming. We would have liked a little bite from garlic or more onion. Perhaps a better array of dipping sauce would have helped. The Tom Kha Gai soup was similar in its fresh, but laid back approach. It lacked zing and perhaps could have benefited from more lemon grass. The mushrooms were expertly cooked, not mushy and not too chewy.

We had better luck with the entrees. The Panang Curry has good flavor and a very mellow after burn for flavor. It isn’t a super-rich curry, but I think this also speaks to the Siam Cuisine style. There is a light touch to everything and when compared with the more bombastic places in town, this can be appreciated. The little touches do count. The carrots and lettuce snap from freshness. Cooked veggies are crisp and still well cooked.

Veggie Eater: There is a small veggie entrĂ©e section. I am a nut for bean thread noodles and was immediately drawn to the vegetables bean thread. After a somewhat lackluster spring roll, the bean thread dish was a nice surprise. They were garlicky and juicy. Veggies were generous and well cooked. Again, would have perhaps enjoyed sauces on the table (perhaps a little sriracha sauce to zip it up) to accessorize as desired. More than enough left over for lunch the next day and they were kind enough to pack my to go box with fresh jasmine rice without asking. It didn’t knock my socks off, but some of the better Thai I’ve had since moving to Nashville.

Meat Eater: Siam Cuisine is among the better Thai restaurants in town and a quite reasonable night out. We had dinner with two beers, tax and tip for $40.
Siam Cuisine on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Siam Cuisine is a favorite of mine for lunch. $6.95 gets you a veggie egg roll, soup (or an extra veggie roll if you don't care for the chicken stock soup), and an entree w/ rice. A lot of food for not much buck.

I usually get the Hung Ray curry with tofu. It's got a yummy (addictive) sauce, cabbage and cashews.

Anonymous said...

Following along with your adventures in visiting lesser known eateries I am struck by a confounding element of nearly all of your reviews: Why does *everything* you sample *need* some sort of kick? Hot sauce, pepper, chilies, onions? There are in many many foods a fundamental essence the characterizes them - and to pour condiments on top of that merely masks that flavor. I can't imagine your disappointment over a dinner of roast chicken with no more than a salt rub and lemon stuffed in the cavity. Round that out with mashed potatoes with no more than butter, and gasp! steamed brocolli.

A meal to die for, and one you can't reproduce except at home.

Eric and Katie said...

I guess we do like spicy food. I don't think of kick though as having to be hot sauce or chilies. I guess my opposite of kick is blandness. One example is Arnold's meat and three. Every item on the menu is perfectly seasoned. Usually nothing more than salt or pepper, but there is an exciting flavor there that stands out. Many meat and three joints don't have that flavor and to me it's a problem. Sometimes it can be real creamery butter on mashed potatoes or rosemary rubbed on the chicken skin. I guess what you're probably noticing is our poor food vocabulary. Food writing is a real skill, and we are mere amateurs. Thanks for putting us on notice, we'll try and be more specific with our descriptions in the future.

Lannae said...

Hi E&K, Siam was really good years ago. The last time I was there, the red curry sauce was good. But, the cook who really put Siam on the map now owns and cooks at Thai Kitchen near 100 Oaks.

Reading anons comments about "kick" reminds me of a question I had about East Asian tastbuds. Do most East Asians have weak tastebuds, thus their prized foods are highly flavored? I admit, most of the real Chinese food I had as a kid, and cook at home now have significant "kick" to it with highly flavored sauces, fermented pungent flavor, or red chili pepper heat. Many Thai foods have sauces, pungency or chili heat to it too. Taste is a sense that remains unmeasured, unlike sight and hearing.

Pad guy said...

The best Thai Food in Nashville, with the best atmosphere and usually the best service, though most Thai joints are uber friendly, can all be found at the Siam Cafe located just off Nolensville Road. Look it up, try it, The Red Curry with ginger and Cashew with native heat and Pork is good, as is pork fried rice with basil. Get back to the blog afterwords and tell me how right I am, similar prices with starters, Singha beers and two entres. To be fair, I put Siam Cuisine on my list.

Eric and Katie said...

Cool...we love a throw down. Sounds like we have more Thai sampling to do! In all honesty we haven't found a great Thai restaurant in the Nashville area yet, so we're willing to keep trying.

Lannae said...

Hi E&K, this is probably not fair to say anymore about Siam on Nolensville because cooks and owners of Asian restaurants in Nashville change at a drop of a hat. A few years ago, Siam was really bad in my opinion. It was like bad strip mall Chinese food with extra fresh carrot shreds. Now, who knows, could be different cook and owner with better food.

Pad guy said...

With the above comment in mind, don't get something boring. I have seen stir fries there with onions, bell peps, and carrots... pretty mediocre. Be sure to get something exotic. I say it like that since we are in the Mid TN.

Anonymous said...

Here's my take on the kick/blandness issue. Some folks have very sensitive palates and others do not. Palates vary and some are more discerning than others. Some are more tolerant of heat, spice, etc. My experience has been this: more discernig palates find spicy, kicky foods to be over seasoned. They can discern the subtlety in foods that pepper(s), salt and other heavy spices can mask. Case in point, E&K state that Arnold's food has a kick, etc. My experience there is that the food is over salted, greasy and over seasoned. Fresh vegetable flavors get masked easily, and Arnold's does that in spades. Does it make Arnold's bad? No, but I happen to like Sylvan Park far better, with it's lighter hand. It's a matter of taste, and sometimes a matter of genetics...some folks have the gift/curse of being very sensitive. But one should refrain from making judgements about other people's tastes. Each to their own. I think too, a good bit of it has to do with what one is reared with, and I was weaned on old fashioned French cuisine, which emphasizes simplicity and a light hand.

By the way, Siam Cafe just of Nolensville Road is THE Thai place for me. It's been there for years and has a very homey, soul food feel to the style of cooking.

As far as food writing goes, I find that if one is experienced in the kitchen it becomes easier to determine what other cooks have done and where they have gone astray (or are right on the money.) Vocabulary aside, knowing how to cook and develop recipes provides the groundwork for knowlegeable criticism.

Eric and Katie said...

Thanks anon. yes, everyone does have their own sense of spice and seasoning. The reviews on this blog happen to reflect ours. What I find with critics is that you can quickly figure out if they are in tune with your tastes...if so you might pay attention to what they say...and if not, well then you look elsewhere. While I am a bumbling fool in the kitchen Katie is an excellent cook and I often rely on her knowledge when we do a review.