The Battle of Vegas Thai Food: Lotus of Siam

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For years I have kept an eye on some of the restaurant options in Las Vegas.  Being that I love a good meal, and I have been to the city numerous times, I have tried several of the restaurants in Vegas.  Food is pretty important for me as it isn’t just a way to avoid being hungry, but we also like to be sure and expose our kiddo to foods beyond basic macaroni and cheese.  For years I have been meaning to visit the highly rated Lotus of Siam for their famed and award winning Thai food.  However, it is (very) off-strip, and thus my well-intentioned plans usually gave way for something more convenient…until now. 20130728-215407.jpg

This time I grabbed a friend and cabbed it to Lotus of Siam for lunch while my husband stayed behind to lead a conference call from the hotel room.  The cab ride was about $20 – $25 each way from the South end of the Strip, so this is a place that would be cheaper to get to on a trip where you had a rental car.

It is in a very nondescript shopping mall, so if you aren’t headed there on purpose there is little chance you would stumble upon it.  I think that is actually part of the charm.  I have heard you really need reservations at dinner, but they don’t take reservations at lunch.  We got there around noon on a Thursday and had no problem being seated right away.  They offer a buffet as well as a menu at lunch.  While I do enjoy the variety that comes with a buffet from time to time, I wanted to order off the menu in order to enjoy fresh food that was cooked for me.

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I’m pretty sure most, if not all, of the awards and stories written about them (as shown in their entry way) were earned from ordering off the menu.

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I fell in love with Thai food while living in New York City several years ago, but I get virtually none these days living in East Texas.  I wouldn’t even begin to pretend to be a Thai food expert, but I can tell you the difference between bad food, good food, and great food.  This food was pretty great at pretty fair prices.

I also know enough to know that I wanted some recommendations on what to order on their very extensive menu.  I have read many posts on sites like Chowhound, but I found this post particularly helpful with narrowing down the menu.  We also got some recommendations from the waiter.  Here is what we went with:

Nam Kao Tod (Crispy Rice with Sausage):

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If you have never had it, know that crispy rice is different than fried rice.  Each individual grain of rice is a bit crunchy.  I think the texture is amazing, but do know going in that it isn’t fried rice.  I thought some of the flavor from the herbs was a little strong, but overall I thought this was an interesting and delicious dish.

Garlic Prawns:

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These fried shrimp were juicy and sweet and not at all fishy or tough.  They were very fresh and I could have eaten a mountain of them if my stomach and wallet were big enough.  They did leave me smelling like garlic for quite a while, but I think that was a small price to pay.

Pad Thai:

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It may not be “cool” to order pad thai in a Thai restaurant, but since when was I ever cool?  It is one of the few “Thai” foods I can get in Texas, and so I was happy to try it at what is considered a good Thai restaurant.  The flavors in it were all very good – better than most for sure.  However, I have to admit I have gotten used to some level of sweetness in pad thai thanks to eating the Americanized versions, so I missed not having that in this dish.   There are more adventurous dishes to try for sure, but not sure you can go wrong with this stand-by.

Mango Sticky Rice:

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We were so stuffed by the time we got to dessert, but I was not leaving without mango with sticky rice.  It is rich, creamy, and full of flavor.  The mango was actually so fresh that it was a dessert all by itself, but add in the rice and sauce and it was amazing.  I highly recommend saving room for this dessert.

Cost:

My friend and I split the cost of lunch (she wouldn’t let me steal the bill and earn more points!), and I think we each paid about $25 + tip for the items above.  If our goal was simply to eat lunch instead of try several different items, we could have easily spent less and ordered less and still have been full.  The prawns are the most expensive item we ordered at about $22 each, but they were one of the highlights of the meal that was filled with deliciousness.  The mango sticky rice was my second favorite item we tried that day.

All smiles after our delicious meal!

All smiles after our delicious meal!

Best Thai food in Vegas?

Gary from View from the Wing was in Vegas the same weekend I was and instead of visiting Lotus of Siam again (he had been there before), he headed to neighboring Komol and he offers his opinion of that restaurant here.  In fact, he says it is even better than Lotus of Siam.  I’ll have to visit it next time and find out if I like it better – the only hard part would be not just going right back to Lotus where I had a fantastic lunch.  They also have an extensive wine list that I have yet to try for myself.

While in Vegas was also enjoyed pretty extensive dinners at the new Hakkasan at the MGM and Shibuya, also at MGM.  While Lotus of Siam was much more affordable than either of those, I will write a few thoughts on those restaurants in a future post in case anyone is considering visiting them on a future Vegas trip.

In the meantime, have you eaten at Lotus of Siam or Komol?  What was your favorite?

Comments

  1. Hmm, restaurants with real Thai food is a hit or miss proposition as 50% of them don’t even serve “real” Thai food or the food is so awful that we count them in the not really Thai category. BTW, my wife is Thai …

    We added Gary’s Thai restaurant recommendation to our list of things to do while in Vegas (now that we have the Circus Circus voucher from AMEX DAILY GETAWAYS) and we will add your recommendation also. Will give both a try & report back …

    Thank you for the recommendation! 🙂

  2. We go once a month and always have a great meal. Crispy rice will catch you off guard on first try as it’s packed with flavor and like nothing else you have ever eaten before. Glad you liked it as it’s my wife and my favorite local joint Try Delmonico next time.

  3. I’ve never been to Lotus of Siam, but if you would like authentic Thai food, perhaps more conveniently located, try Krung Siam. It’s located on Spring Mountain and Valley View, across the freeway from the strip, at the beginning of Chinatown. They also have entertainment in the evening, a full bar, and are open until 6am.
    I have many Thai friends, and they all like the food here

  4. I am sick of all this armchair Thai food snobbery between the bloggers. Please go to Thailand before you tell me what is good and bad thai food.

    Gary, while Pad Thai is probably the most well known dish and what most white people eating Thai food for the first time eat; it is by no means something to be snobby about. It’s something plenty of Thai people actually eat. Gai Pad Gapow is probably eaten more than any of you fancy, schmancy dishes you got, does that make it below you?

  5. @Nate, the comments about pad thai stem from my conversations with the Thai staff at Komol — it is not looking down on pad thai, I enjoy it — it is that most Americans aren’t adventurous enough to move beyond it and order it as “safe.”

    The great thing about having Lotus of Siam and Komol next door to each other (and they have been for years) is competition brings out the very best in Thai food. I’m confident that neither restaurant would be as good if the other wasn’t there.

    (And yes I have been to Thailand many, many times.)

  6. This is really sad, I come to this site to read about travel and it has become a diary. I don’ care where you’re going or where you’ve been. Take a look at the post for the last two weeks and tell your readers this is what we should expect in the future?
    The Lotus takes CC’s you could slip in a link for Ink Bold at least we would know where we’re at.

  7. Kalboz, yes please do! I’d love to hear your thoughts and enjoy Vegas!
    David, indeed. Also nice to get off the strip and feel like you are in a “normal” city for a while. 😉
    Paul, agree about the crispy rice and thanks for the recommendation!
    Gary, sounds like a fun place, thanks for the recommendation!
    Nate, a thousand apologies if any of this came off as snobbery. It was just really good food – I’m about the furthest thing from a food snob. 😉
    Gary, I look forward to trying Komol as well!
    Larry, fair criticism. I kinda feel that way as well (minus the Ink Bold – I paid with the CSP to get 2x on dining). 😉 Seriously though, with summer travel in very much full force for us there has been a temporary shift to having posts heavily weighted with our own experiences. Those have always been a part of the site as I think sharing our own experience with different locations is important, but I agree with observations about their increase in frequency. Doing a catch-up post this morning with some miles and points news and then hopefully things will go back to a more normal balance soon.

  8. @Larry: I don’t agree with your comments. As you said, this is a Travel Blog and thus it is not only about reviewing hotels, planes, etc… but about sharing all experience people have when they travel. Thus, having mommypoints share her dinning experience at a Thai restaurant is very important to me since when I travel it is not only about the hotel I stay, the airline and fare class I flew but also about where I had a great meal or where I will never go back to have a meal next time. When I travel I do a lot of research in advance and have a list of places I want tot try. Sorry, but I am not the kind of person that leaves my home to eat at McDonald’s. Mommypoints: please keep those reviews coming.

  9. Not a criticism really, but I did think that this post was weird as Gary just did one on Las Vegas Thai. Now call me uninformed, but I just didn’t really see the draw in 2 bloggers hosted on the same platform posting about the same strip mall restaurants (no matter how amazing) within a few days of each other.

    • Heather, thanks for sharing your thoughts. That is what made it more interesting to me personally as it was a different option on a similar topic. If anyone was interested in one, they would likely be interested in the other. Of course, the reverse is true. If you weren’t at all interested in one, then you were not interested times two. 😉

  10. @ mommypoints, your blog is a spot on, timely, and interactive with other bloggers which makes it relevant to many of us travelers. Thanks again for sharing your experiences & giving us the chance to compare and contrast the Thai cuisine dining option at a very popular destination.

  11. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; lose the sunglasses when having your picture taken, especially since this was indoors. Sunglasses obscure those naturally good looks, after all.

  12. I’m pretty late to this post, but thanks MP for helping set the record straight on Lotus. Best Thai restaurant I’ve been to in North America (save for Bangkok Gardens in Toronto). Next time you’re in Las Vegas, you may want to give Dim Sum a try at Ping, Pang, Pong inside the Gold Coast Casino. It’s authentic Chinese, which is hard to find in the US and a great option for lunch.

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