Siam I am

The pad Thai lunch plate at Thai Lotus is a favorite introductury course to Thai food.

The pad Thai lunch plate at Thai Lotus is a favorite introductury course to Thai food.

Photo By David Robert

Thai Lotus

6430 South Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89511

Thai Lotus is in the same shopping center that once held Tower Records. It’s been there for a few years but I’d never tried it. The outside looks a little dingy, but inside, it’s a nice, relaxed, casual dining spot.

When my girlfriend, Sara, and I first walked in, the restaurant was empty. Totally empty. Nobody at any of the dozen or so tables and nobody at the desk. Fire-drill empty.

The small dining room was lit with calm, brown-orange lighting and quiet, ambient “miscellaneous Asian” music played in the background. The overall effect was intimate, comfortable and homey.

“I feel like we just walked into somebody’s living room,” said Sara.

“Hello?” I called out. A man came out, greeted and seated us. He was very friendly and immediately put us at ease. He was courteous and professional. It can be a little awkward being the only customers in a restaurant, but he made us feel like welcomed guests. Our roommate, Jaxon, soon joined us at the table.

We started out with appetizers: shrimp rangoons for $5.95 and curry puffs for $4.95. Both are variations on the “fried wonton” theme, the first with shrimp, green onion, and cream cheese and the latter with curried potatoes. Both were light, authentic and appetizing.

For the main course, I went with the tom yum noodles for $8.95. Tom yum noodles are rice noodles in spicy-sour tom yum soup, with peanuts, sprouts, shrimp, chicken and barbecue pork. I love ordering any dish that involves the meat of several different animals. It was, however, a tad disappointing. Nothing tasted bad, it was just a little weak in the flavor department, and the dish was never more than the sum of its different animal parts. It didn’t quite gel. The soup had a spicy kick but no follow-through.

Sara was torn between two noodle dishes: the safety of pad Thai for $8.95, and the more adventuresome pad lard nah for the same price. I convinced her to order the pad lard nah because, No. 1, we all know the deal with pad Thai, and though it might be good to order for an easy comparative evaluation, I’m bored with the stuff. No. 2, I’m immediately intrigued by any dish with the word “lard” anywhere in the name.

Sara’s pad lard nah turned out to be big, fat, stir-fried noodles with chicken, broccoli and cabbage in a gravy sauce.

Jaxon doesn’t eat meat, which is no problem at Thai Lotus because, as the menu says, “Each dish can adjust to be vegetarian.” Said like that, it’s like Transformers food. Jaxson ordered the tofu spinach peanut-sauce over a bed of lettuce for $8.95.

I asked him how it was.

“Well, it’s pretty much just what it says it is.”

There was nothing to complain about it with any of these dishes, but nor was there anything quite revelatory. There was no flash, no panache, nothing exotic. Everything was good, albeit just a bit tame. Our conversation kept turning toward other meals at other restaurants. It was a bit like an uncomfortable first date—one where you end up talking about your exes.

Though Thai Lotus might not be the first choice for the thrill-seeking culinary adventurer, its casual atmosphere, friendly service and simple fare might make it a good choice for a starter Thai joint; a place to bring the young’uns or ethnic food neophytes. That’s an advantage I’d give this Thai restaurant over any other: It’s genuinely family friendly.