Monday, July 25, 2005

Mitsuwa Marketplace - Costa Mesa

Like Japanese art, and the haiku poem, Japanese cuisine finds elegance thorugh simplicity. Watch fine artists like Shibutani of Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa and you will see economy and precision of movement as he builds masterpieces on the plate. Like a calligrapher's brush strokes, his sushi is bound by tradition yet animated by creativity.

Go to a traditional izakaya like Honda-Ya, or even a modern Japanese bistro like Cafe Hiro, and you'll find the same reverence to this philosophy on varying levels.

But when I can't find the time or money to eat at these favorites of mine, there's Mitsuwa Marketplace. Located near the rear of the store, Mitsuwa offers a long refrigerated case of bento boxes.

"Bento" is the Japanese version of "fast-food". And it's got all the essentials for a busy Japanese office drone. Rice, meat and vegetables; all arranged artfully in compartments and packed conveniently in a sealed plastic box.

A quick and balanced meal that doesn't skimp on quality ingredients, bento is the essense of Japanese cuisine in a ready-to-go container.

My favorite has to be the chicken karaage bento ($4.99). Golden, crispy chunks of fried chicken that has been marinated in sake and soy accompany white rice and all sorts of different vegetable nibbles.

The bento I chose included crisp tender green beans glazed in shoyu and sesame seeds and in a separate compartment, a tuft of wiggly black strands that I can only guess is a seaweed of some sort. And with all bentos there's a steamed broccoli floret, some marinated lotus root, and a requisite block of tamago to cleanse the palate after you finish the meal.

And if you're hankering for a bento sampler, Mitsuwa also has a box ($4.50) that has a combination of items playing the role of protein. One I tried recently had a breaded fillet of white fish, under which lurked a fried gyoza, a potato croquette, a shumai, a barbecue sauce laden chunk of fish cake, and a morsel of their chicken karaage. All this is served with varying accompaniments and, of course, rice.

For an even quicker bite, I get onigiri ($1.00), which are rice triangles with a little bit of filling stuffed inside, all wrapped in nori (seaweed). The nori is wrapped in plastic against the rice so that it remains crisp.

You have to follow the numbered and diagramed instructions on how to unsheath the seaweed prior to eating. Do it wrong and you get a mess of rice grains and ripped seaweed. Do it right and you get the crunch and slightly fishy nori neatly wrapped around the shaped rice.

The filling in the middle of the rice triangle, whether it is salmon, tarako (cod roe), or tuna, serves as a flavoring, so don't expect a lot of it.

While the bentos and onigiris nod to Japanese tradition, Mitsuwa also has other products that flies in the face of it. If someone is looking for evidence to rally against globalization, take these curly, dense cheesy snacks being sold at Mitsuwa. Recognize them yet?

Yep. Chester Cheetah has slinked his way into the Land of the Rising Sun. Now the Japanese have their chance at obesity and slovenness too!

This version of the dastardly Cheeto is sweeter and less sharp-tasting that its stateside counterpart. They are also lighter in color and come in a bag that seems to be half the size of a regular Cheetos bag.

I say, get it over with and package it in a Costco-sized feed-bag for gosh sakes! That's the American Way!

And I'm not quite sure what the oozy mayo-like substance pictured near the bottom of the bag is, but I assume it's supposed to be melted cheese. Although when I first picked up the bag, I secretly wished it *WAS* mayo.

Think of it, "mayo flavored Cheetos"! What a decadent and unholy alliance that would be!

Nevertheless, I doubt you'd be surprised if I told you that I couldn't stop eating these until I was sure the bag was emptied of crumbs and my fingers were caked with powdered cheese dust. The Japanese better be careful or there might be a deep fried twinkie in their future!

As good as I think this junk food is, I thank goodness that Japanese cuisine still has some traditionalist hold outs to bring its food culture back in line.

Mitsuwa Marketplace
(714) 557-6699
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Magic Wok - Artesia

I've noticed that Filipino food hasn't permeated into the American food culture as easily as Thai food has. Even Vietnamese food is making bigger strides into the mainstream than Filipino food, as more people are becoming familiar to pho and banh mi. In the meantime, Filipino restaurant food remains a curious mystery to most. It hides in the shadows, lurking only where Filipinos know to find it.

If I had to guess why this is, I think it's because a typical Filipino restaurant menu unapologetically caters only to Filipino tastes - i.e., there's no "beef and brocolli" dumb-downs or items like Pad Thai that can easily cross over.

Filipinos also have a fondness for sour flavors, and a penchant for anything made with fatty pork that is often off-putting to Western sensibilities. Added to this, Filipino food often does not exhibit the bright and spicy flavors of Thai, or the fresh herb notes of Vietnamese that diners have come to love. It is instead often dark, stew-like, and sometimes...a little scary.

Take a dish called dinuguan for example. Set a plate of this pasty black substance in front of a hardened American carnivore and he will surely recoil in horror when told it is a stew of congealed pig's blood. I still cannot bring myself to order this dish. It's blood for-gosh-sakes! But then again, I'm not Filipino.

Sure, there are attempts to introduce Filipino tastes to Western palates, like what Yi Cuisine in L.A. is doing. But to me, that's like wading at the shallow end of the kiddie pool. You'll never learn to swim that way.

No, if you really want to find out what Filipino food is all about, you must dive head first into it. You know, get yourself wet. No, not the deep-end. I'm not saying order that dinuguan yet. What I'm saying is, at the very least, try Filipino food in the way it was meant to be enjoyed, in a Filipino family restaurant.

Take for example my new favorite in Artesia. It's a dive of a place, called The Magic Wok (not to be confused with the horrible Chinese take-out chain of the same name). This family run establishment cooks up traditional meals and charge, on average, no more than $5 per dish.

In a spartan room with clunky chairs and tables, crowds of Filipino families hunker down to chow, feasting on all manner of pork, fowl, and seafood. All this is served by an attentive Latina wait staff.

Their menu runs laps around the traditional staples like pancit and adobo. But by far, their most popular item is the "crispy pata".

During Christmas, they always run out of this speciality so early in the day, that by 10 am, they have to put up a sign reading "NO MORE CRISPY PATA" to turn away disappointed customers.

I was lucky enough to try their crispy pata last week. And yes, it was a little scary at first.

At around $8 it was one of the more expensive items on the menu. And when it arrived on my table, it made me tremble with fear. Here before me was a ginormous, deep fried hunk of pork leg with the rind still attached and a giant white bone sticking out of it.

The golden rind, pork skin rendered beyond crunchy in boiling oil, is the first thing I tried. The texture is as dense as the crunch is deep. These are pork cracklings on 'roids, and once the crunch subsides, the remainder sticks annoyingly to your teeth. The flavor is fatty sweet, and can be a bit overwhelming if you're not used to it as I was. But I found that a dip in vinegar tames the richness from becoming too overpowering.

Once you've pried off the rind, you uncover a thin, white mucousy layer of fat (which you can scrape off) running over ruddy, sinewy meat. This muscle meat here is tender and spongy. A gentle tug and it falls apart into strands, just like carnitas. A dollop of the sweet sauce they give you is the perfect compliment as you eat it with rice.

So if you are accustomed dry, white meat pork chops, with nary a hint of fat; or if you curdle at the sight of the "real parts" of the animal you are eating, crispy pata probably isn't for you. But if you cater to the belief that pork should not be "the other white meat", contrary to the slogan, you might like it.

But if you do try it, like I did, don't order crispy pata without ordering something else to counter its porky-ness. We ordered a steaming bowl of the potent and lip-puckering sour soup called sinigang, made with a tamarind base and containing daikon and green beans. Along with this, we also ate a nicely fried piece of bangus (milk fish) and another plate of fried calamari. The calamari was a standout dish. Caked with a seasoned batter and fried to a dark brown, these rings and tentacles were easily poppable and addictive.

See, Filipino food isn't that scary! Okay...dinuguan is a little. And yeah, there's balut...I won't even go there.

Magic Wok
(562) 865-7340
11869 Artesia Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701

Monday, July 18, 2005

Baked Mussels in Dynamite Sauce

Before you ask, I have no idea why this dish has the word "dynamite" in it. Maybe "Mussels Baked in a Mayo-Based Sauce" doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely. Maybe it's because no conventional adjectives can do this dish justice. Maybe Jimmy Walker ordered it at a sushi joint one night and proclaimed "These baked mussels are DY-NO-MIITE!"

I just don't know.

But what I do know is this: these things are ridiculously quick and easy to make.

No longer will I spend upwards of $10 for just two pieces at my local sushi restaurant. I bake two dozen at a time now and make a whole meal of it with rice and some stir fried greens.

I would imagine I'd get a lot of adulation if I ever chose to serve them as hor'd oeuvres at a dinner party.

Whatever way you serve it, I am willing to bet your family and guests will gush at how the "dynamite" sauce, creamy and tangy with a touch of chili heat, perfectly compliments the briny mussels.

Here's my recipe:

2 dozen New Zealand green lip mussels (frozen or alive)
A pinch of Hon Dashi pellets
1 tablespoon of half and half
3/4 cup Kewpie Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of Sriracha
1 tablespoon of masago (smelt roe)

Pre-heat your broiler or toaster oven to 350 degrees.

If using live mussels, cover and steam in a basket or colander over boiling water just until the mussels pop open (chuck any that remain closed; they're dead). Then take them off the heat immediately. Discard the shell not connected to the meat and arrange the mussels on the half shell, meat side up, on a foil-lined baking pan.

Do not use a cookie sheet because there will be escaping juices.

If you are using frozen mussels (which are usually pre-cooked), simply arrange the mussels in the same way on the baking pan. The mussels will defrost slightly while you put the sauce together.

To prepare the sauce, first drop a pinch of the Hon Dashi pellets in a medium bowl and dissolve completely with the half and half.

Then add the Kewpie mayo. Combine the mixture with a spoon until smooth.

Then add the Sriracha and fully incorporate it into the sauce.

Do a taste test here. If you would like the sauce to be hotter, add a little more Sriracha. If you want it to be milder, add a few squirts of Kewpie mayo. If you think you've added too much mayo, you can thin the mixture slightly with a few drops of half and half.

The consistency and viscosity of the sauce should be like pancake batter or a softened milk shake.

Once you've reached this stage, add the masago and stir slowly to distribute it evenly into the sauce.

Then spoon the sauce over each mussel. Put just enough to cover the meat completely.

Place the mussels under the broiler or toaster oven to cook.

Check frequently and rotate the pan occasionally to even out the browning and compensate for hot spots. Cook until the sauce bubbles and gets golden brown with a few dark spots forming. The total cooking time should not exceed 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On cooking longanisa

Longanisa. What looks like just a sweet, innocent Filipino sausage will reveal itself as a diabolical porcine attack on your cookware.

Let me explain.

Longanisa is a high maintenance sausage. It ain't a Hormel hot dog. You can't eat it straight out of the package. You can't throw it in the microwave and expect a meal in 20 seconds.

No. Longanisa starts out as raw meat, and it has to be fully cooked, i.e. submerged in an inch of water and cooked for half an hour until the water has evaporated. Think you're done? No again.

After the water is gone, you must fry the sausages in the pooling fat which has escaped from the recesses of the casing. This is where the assault on your fry pan begins. Discreetly, and slowly, the sugar, protein and grease hidden inside your sausage will ooze out onto the cooking surface. By the time you get a nice sear and crust on your sausage, that ooze becomes the sludge that soon burns into a solid mass of carbon.

It's enough for anyone to give up cooking longanisa altogether.

That would be a shame, since longanisa is, I think, is one of the most delicious and unapologetically fatty sausages in world cuisine. If you're going to have a sausage, you might as well make it a longanisa.

The flavor is uncomplicated, just sweet and piggy. In every bite, you will almost always get little chewy pieces of fat and gristle along with meat. I serve it with rice and a dipping sauce of vinegar to cut through the sweetness.

To spare my cookware, I cover what ever pan I intend to use for the job with aluminum foil. Then I cook on this protective covering until the sausage glistens and gets crusty.

The brand of longanisa I chose this time did not impress me. It was on sale at 99 Ranch (a Buy One Get One Free offer). These sausages seemed too cloying. Next time I will stick to the my usual brand (the name escapes me at the moment) which were more lively and complex.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fish and Chips at Farmer Boys

If there's one thing that the British and Scots have contributed to the culinary world, it's fried foods. This delicious and dubious honor probably started with cooking potatoes in fat and has evolved (some might say "devolved") to dunking anything with batter into boiling oil and calling it a meal. Case in point: the deep fried Mars bar.

While I've never had the opportunity (or is it "misfortune") to try one, I have had a long affinity for that other fried staple of Anglo-cuisine; fish and chips. Give the whole mess a few squirts of malt vinegar, some lemon, maybe tartar sauce and I'll be in a deep fried bliss.

The best fish and chips I've ever had (since I've never been to England) was in the most British city in New Zealand; Christchurch.

There, at a hole-in-the-wall near City Centre, is what the Lonely Planet guide rightfully proclaims as the best and cheapest fish and chips in the Land of the Long White Cloud. The chips were short and stubby; think OreIda but half as lengthy. But unlike OreIda, which has a strange caramel-like hue, the chips I had in Christchurch were uniformly bright canary yellow, with a consistent crisp texture and fluffy interior. And you won't come across a single soggy chip in the pile.

The batter on the fish was cooked to a light brown crust that was lacy and delicate but structurally rigid. Because of the rigidity of the crust, even a liberal soaking of malt vinegar did nothing to alter its solid crunch. Breaking through it revealed a moist and flaky fish. Perfect fry technique also left the product with no residual grease. I relished the experience since I knew I would not find it done quite so properly again in the states.

And I was right.

However, when I have to make do, the "Fish and Fries" at Farmer Boys is a satisfying, albeit, a pale facsimile.

First I have to respect Farmer Boys for not calling their dish "Fish and Chips" because it simply is not. The "chips" that you get are, of course, the same fries that accompany their hamburger. These are standard frozen fries that have a decent texture but a short half-life; they wilt and limp if not eaten hot.

The fish is a whole fillet, probably haddock, dipped in batter before immersion in the fryer, but as with the fries, the crunchy batter surrenders easily to a malt vinegar soaking. The steam from the fish also makes the batter soft if you wait too long before noshing. Also, once in a while, you might get a greasy one.

But for a price point of around $5 (for three generous pieces of fish and a plateful of fries), I still think Farmer Boys does one of the best fish and fries in O.C. Perhaps there's more authentic fish and chips to be found in a local British pub somewhere, but I bet you'll be paying twice as much. Keep in mind that even the best chip shops in London and New Zealand never charge more than $5 per serving.

It is, after all, still deep fried food.

Farmer Boys Tustin
(714) 730-2264
171 E 1st St
Tustin, CA 92780

*UPDATE (January 21, 2007): The Tustin Farmer Boys is no longer in business.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pho Bac Ky - Irvine on Barranca

There's one nice thing about the 107 degree heat of Vegas in July. It's how positively giddy it makes you when you come back to O.C. and find that the mercury is hovering in the mid 80's. Ahhh, so this is how it feels on the coast!

Yes, it's summer in temperate Southern California, where instead of holing yourself up in an air conditioned casino, staring down a "one-armed bandit" with bleary eyes, you can go outside!

The beach! Open air shopping! The Laguna Arts Festival! We have it all. Too bad only tourists can enjoy this midweek while I'm back here at work doing what?

Staring down a monitor with bleary eyes in an air conditioned office.

At least I can taste a little bit of summer when I get dinner tonight. And thanks to Pam of Daily Gluttony, I was reminded of how perfect bun, a Vietnamese noodle salad, is for the summer, even if it only hits 82 degrees around here.

Like Country Time lemonade and watermelon, I think bun (rhymes with "swoon") should be made an "All-American" summertime staple. What other dish can fill you up and cool you down so satisfyingly.

The dish, consisting mainly of cold rice vermicelli noodles and chopped raw vegetables, is cooling, refreshing, yet still doggedly unvegetarian since the nouc cham is made with fish sauce. Also, what bun is complete without a few char kissed slices of meat. Topped on your mound o' noodles will be choices grilled beef, pork, shrimp, and even cut pieces of fried egg roll. Or if you are feeling particularly carnivorous, all of the above!

When you are served your bun, take the nouc cham and douse everything with it like it was on fire. This thin sauce is tart and tangy and provides all of the flavor. After that, there's nothing left to do but toss and enjoy.

Like Pam, my bun had brown slices of grilled pork (Thit Nuong) and chopped egg rolls. But unlike Pam's, my bun came in a boat.

That's right. A boat.

And as if that weren't silly enough, they stuck a dainty cocktail umbrella into one piece of grilled pork. It looked as if it was taking a leisurely cruise somewhere in the China Sea.

But no matter what vessel your bun comes in, what you get will always be the same; a pleasureable mix of sour pickled carrots, raw bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and slivered cucumber mingling with the feather light noodles and the aforementioned grilled meats. And if you opted for the egg rolls, you also get a crunchy counterpoint which feels like shrimp-filled croutons.

Pho Bac Ky does a good rendition of bun, albeit an expensive one at $7.45 (perhaps the cocktail umbrella jacked-up the unit cost). The pork is a bit gristly in parts, but was tender with an aromatic lemongrass sweetness.

Also ordered was a formidable dish of broken rice with the same grilled pork, "julienned pork", and something they call an "egg quiche". This "egg quiche" is a dense concoction of beaten egg cooked solid with all sorts of odds and ends thrown in for texture. Chief among them; ground pork and wood ear fungus. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds.

The "julienned pork" is actually and quite literally, pork confetti. What the confetti consists of is beyond me. The opaque pieces are most obviously pork meat, but the clear strands remind me of the crunchy stuff they put in headcheese. In any case, if you don't think about it and just eat, it is quite tasty and mysteriously wispy.

Feeling full and happy after all this food, we decided, "What summer meal is complete without an icy dessert?" Pho Bac Ky thankfully has a colorful assortment of cool dessert drinks, some of which will put you into a technicolor acid trip. My absolute favorite is cryptically called "The Black Sea". Crushed ice, black tapioca pearls, grass jelly, and the vanilla-like essense of pandanus leaf make a cold drink that is chunky and creamy sweet without being too rich.

Okay, August, bring it on! We got you licked!

Pho Bac Ky
4250 Barranca Parkway, Suite K
Irvine, Ca 92604
(949) 857-8808

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lotus of Siam - Las Vegas

It was 107 degrees in Vegas on Fourth of July weekend. That's right. One hundred and seven! And it took six hours of stop-and-go driving across the barren Mojave to get there.

What, you might ask, would possess me to spend that much time in a car in the thick heat of July to venture into the scorching desert?

For my friends it was the call of poker chips. For me: Lotus of Siam.

Yes, Lotus of Siam. This venerable Las Vegas institution is only about half a dozen years old, but owners Saipin Chutima and her husband Bill were already considered legends long before that. Their last restaurant, Renu Nakorn in Norwalk, California was the toast of Chowhound and other LA publications. All claimed it as the best Thai outside of Thailand. (Renu has been under new management since the Chutimas left for Sin City.)

This title follows them to Las Vegas as Lotus of Siam is now lauded as "The Best Thai in the U.S." by Gourmet Magazine, New York Times, and Chowhound. Look at the framed copies of the articles that decorate every square inch of the restaurant's miniscule waiting area and you might think to yourself, "How could anything live up to this hype?"

Don't worry.

It does.

My first visit to LoS was last December. It was a revelatory experience, nothing short of spectacular, made only sweeter because a friend who was hesitant in trying it with me at the sight of the LoS's ratty exterior later hailed it as the best Thai he's ever had!

This past weekend's visit was my second, and third. Yes, even with all the fine dining options at our disposal in Vegas, we returned to eat there the next night to make two nights in a row!

We arrived the first night, on Saturday, to an almost empty parking lot. The dingy strip mall was silent, save for the howl of the hot desert wind whipping by. Entering through the dusty door was like entering another dimension.

Inside it was comfortably cool and homey. No gaudy neon. No theming. No interior design distractions like your typical Vegas eatery. This place doesn't try to be hip.

It has the honest and no-nonsense feel of a small country restaurant. In fact, it could pass for an old Mimi's Cafe if it weren't for the many framed 8x10 snapshots of Ms. Chutima and her regulars. In one photo, I spotted the chef with Tyler Florence. But I scratched my head at the others in those photos. My guess is that there's at least a fellow Chowhound among the bunch. Whatever the case, all these faces were beaming at the pleasure of eating Ms. Chutima's food.

We were beaming too as our meal started promptly.

The first to come out was the Golden Tofu appetizer. A delicately crispy exterior gave way to a soft, custard-like curd. This is a palate primer, elevated with dab of the homemade tart, sugary red sauce with crushed peanuts.

Next was the Pineapple Fried Rice. Tinged yellow with curry powder, I've had this dish elsewhere as Singapore Fried Rice. LoS's version was simpler, and straightforward with the spices upfront and center. I liked this dish, eventhough I missed the cashews that dot Sanamluang's version.

Now the Pad Thai. Quite simply, the best Pad Thai I've ever had, and I've had my fair share. Deeply saturated with seasoning, the rice noodles were bold but not wet. Crisp green onion and bean sprouts added crunch and freshness. This is what I imagine Pad Thai would taste like in Thailand.

The Crispy Mussel Omelette was the best dish of all. A deep-fried, thin disc of glutinous rice and egg encapsulate morsels of juicy, ocean-fresh mussels. Served over a bed of crisp sauteed bean sprouts, this was a dance of textures. Sticky rice dough mingling with the noisy crunch of the lacy edges; rich egg waltzing with briny mussels and bean sprouts. All was made complete with the symphony of the homemade sweet, sour and spicy sauce. We fell so utterly head over heels for this dish that we ordered it again the following night.

A hearty bowl of Yellow Curry came next. Chunks of white meat chicken, potatoes, bell peppers, and onion swam in a thick, rich gravy of velvety yellow. Heaped on top of rice, this is the kind of comfort food that will lull you to sleep.

The Issan Sausage was homemade. Served grilled and sliced on a bias, it came with cabbage leaves, lightly scorched peanut, slivered ginger and red onion. The flavor was pungent and herby, but the texture was dry, almost mealy. It wasn't quite what I expected, since I am used to fatty sausages and hot dogs which burst with juices when bitten.

By this time, we were sated, but silly us...we couldn't resist ordering the ginormous Dessert Combo of coconut ice cream, sliced ripe mango, fried bananas and sticky rice. This put us over the edge and had us waddling with groaning breath back to the hotel.

The next night we vowed not to overstuff ourselves like the previous. But it became apparent soon enough that this seems impossible at LoS.

We first started with the Fried Chicken Dumplings. These were your average, normal potstickers, but what made it great was how it was deep-fried until golden and blistered. Perfect flavor and texture explosions occurred in our mouths when we dipped it in that sweet and spicy sauce of theirs.

We had to try their Chicken Satays since we spied other diners nibbling on it. These were all white meat and perfectly cooked with some slight charring. The peanut sauce was luscious and the side of vinegared cucumbers, zippy. I prefer Thai Nakorn's thicker dark meat satays to LoS's, but it's a minor quibble as the rest of my table picked each stick clean.

The Yum Nuah, or Thai Beef Salad, was laced with a chocolate-colored dressing infused with lemongrass, tamarind and chilis. Lip-smacking is one way to put it. The cool crisp garden-fresh flavors of cilantro, cucumber, tomato and lettuce contrasted nicely with the char and protein heft of the sliced steak.

The Pad See Ew was a dish I had to order for the purpose of comparing it to Thai Nakorn's version which I tried and loved a week ago. But I am still amazed that this simple dish of rice noodles, stir fried with black soy sauce and tossed with beef and Chinese broccoli, could differ so much between restaurants. Although I loved LoS's rendition, which was wetter and had more of a garlic punch, I'd have to give the edge to Thai Nakorn's since the "wok-hey" was mysteriously absent here.

The most inventive dish this night was the Koong Tenn, which were eight grilled shrimp artfully arranged atop shredded cabbage. The shrimp was "crusted" in a relish of chopped herbs, chili and onion. Each daintily rested on a leaf of mint. Popping these creatures into your mouth introduced a grassy, herbal flavor, then a crustacean sweetness, and finally, a lingering heat from the diced chili and mint.

We finished with a smaller dessert dish of Fried Bananas and Coconut Ice Cream that evening. What a thrilling combination and a fitting finish to our meal. The cooling coconut ice cream offsetting the crunchy egg-roll shell and custard-like interior of the fried bananas.

So, was it the best Thai in the U.S.?

For me to say that, I would have needed to try every Thai restaurant in the country. But I can safely say this: out of all the Thai restaurants I have been to, Lotus of Siam is my favorite because of its deftness in executing everything on its voluminous menu. One can throw a dart at the menu and be assured anything it lands on will be great.

I'm back in Orange County now, but I am already looking forward to my next pilgrimage across the desert to the Chutima's temple of Thai cuisine, Lotus of Siam.

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