If you don’t please
As a family-owned, independent restaurant, Siamese Hut has all the signs of being a great local gem. It’s the type of understated refuge where the discerning diner can get great Thai food on the cheap. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver.
The art and décor are gorgeous and confirmed my and my husband’s optimistic predections. Someone took real time coordinating the Thailand nature pictures and deity statues with the carpet and table cloths. Seriously, it’s very pretty. Just don’t look straight up; that way you’ll never see the cheap foam board ceiling panels.
But the food and service don’t match the ambiance. Our server was a sweet, friendly guy, but a little indecisive and inattentive considering we were the only diners on a super-slow weeknight. His wife cooked in the back while we munched on our satisfactory egg roll starters ($5.95). They were standard and acceptable, accompanied with the requisite sweet sauce and soy-based dips. When our main courses came, however, the egg roll plates were not taken away, and they cluttered up our table for the remainder of the meal.
Still, I was willing to keep an open mind. A Thai restaurant has one shot and one dish to sell me: pad Thai. I ordered mine with 12 pieces—as opposed to six—of shrimp ($12.95). The shrimp tasted farmed, but that’s par for the course in my experience. The noodles were slightly soggy, the pad Thai sauce too sweet, and there was nothing else there to make up for it. In addition, there were only nine shrimp on my plate. If you put the numbers on the menu, you better deliver.
My husband’s yellow curry seafood special, with various flora such as potatoes and bamboo shoots, and sundry oceanic additions including shrimp, fish and mussels ($8.95) had the same essential problem. The standard steamed rice was professionally prepared, but the curry sauce was too timid in all respects except sweetness. If you’ve ever tried to cook Thai you know that a little sugar goes in most of the broths and sauces, but it’s supposed to just tickle the palate, not invade and occupy it. It was also a little weak on the curry and fish sauce. Striking the right balance is difficult. It is perilously easy, for example, to overdose on fish sauce, but isn’t that why you go out to dine and rely on the supposed pros?
As we were preparing to pay and leave, one other couple walked in saying they were going to try what sounded like sweet and sour chicken because it was “highly recommended” by a friend. OK, there you have it. Maybe that’s a signature dish we weren’t lucky enough to sample.
My husband says he’ll give Siamese Hut a chance at redemption during lunch hour. It will be convenient enough for him because the Shell station on the other side of Mill is where we have our cars serviced. While the oil is being changed he’ll try one of the lunch specials. For $7.95, you can get “pudthai,” soup, salad, wonton, steamed rice, and an entrée that could be one of 10 options, such as stir fried garlic and pepper with a choice of meat, and red curry. That does seem like a potential deal.
Maybe serving lunch is how Siamese Hut pays their bills—tending to the hustling 9-to-5 working stiffs along the Kietzke business corridor who only have time to dash and grab lunch to go before heading back to the office or shop. But in our family, I do the bills, not the cars. Based on my experience, I have no compelling reason to burden the former or service the latter as part of a return to Siamese Hut.