Thanks for chilies

On top of pud thai, all covered with bean (sprouts), I lost my poor tasty shrimp, when somebody sneezed.

On top of pud thai, all covered with bean (sprouts), I lost my poor tasty shrimp, when somebody sneezed.

Photo By David Robert

Imagine a dark, cave-like cloistered interior with worn posters of Thailand covering the walls. Envision red Naugahyde covering booths with lamps covered in fabrics with tassels dangling and swaying, offering barely enough light to read the menu.

Now think of bright, spotless, textured white drywall. Sit in a booth covered in vinyl the color of pumpkin pie mix with a lot of milk in it. The table before you has a faux tapestry depicting a Thai scene under glass. Pop Thai music plays. Lights beam down from the suspended acoustic ceiling so you have no trouble reading the comprehensive, padded menu.

You’ve just experienced Siamese Hut—then and now. Consider yourself prepared for the change.

The old Siamese Hut was a great joint, but now it’s as bright and sterile as a cafeteria.

I was dining solo as I took in the changes in décor and atmosphere. I tried to listen in on the conversations around me to see how the other diners felt about the changes, but I was all alone in my shock and dismay.

I ordered comfort Thai food: pud thai ($7.50). The plate of medium-sized rice noodles arrived, perfectly pan fried with shrimp, egg, scallions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. Thankfully, I’d ordered extra shrimp ($2). The pink Cs on top of the pile of noodles pleased me immensely.

I found the dish to be fresh and not at all greasy. It was light, so light that I requested the menu again from the waitress. I needed more food than this.

Just as I finished the pud thai, my green beans and beef arrived. The beans were bright green and the beef was cooked beef brown. The pool of subsequent sauce looked rather runny and unexciting; I didn’t transfer any of this to my eating plate.

The steamed rice surprised me: aromatic jasmine rice. I served myself a heaping pile of rice next to the beef pieces and green beans and began eating. Something was missing. The green beans were fresh and crisp, but their flavor was not enough to carry the weight of the entire dish. What this dish needed was some fire.

I summoned over the cook after she served some other patrons. I asked for some chili paste.

She smiled, and I knew she didn’t understand me. I made the mistake of speaking more slowly and a little louder.

“CHI-LI PA-STE,” I said, realizing my stupid mistake: she’s not deaf.

The waitress appeared, and I repeated my request—in a normal voice. The cook re-appeared with a trio of chilies, all of which helped tremendously in perking up the beef and beans.

I finished the meal with a dish of sweet rice and thai custard ($3.50). When it was served, I was tempted not to touch it: One slab of gelatinous mustard-colored custard with Swiss-cheese-like holes atop another slab of sticky rice leaves quite a bit to be desired.

In spite of its appearance, the dessert was yummy. I should apply what I learned by looking beyond appearance and get over the fact that the Siamese Hut was remodeled several years ago. Hey, what more could I want from a Thai restaurant besides good pud thai and chili paste?