mylifestylenews

2016-04-08

Café Siam @ A Touch of Thai With A Touch of Spice

Thai food embodies one of the world’s greatest cuisines and when you have the right talent in the kitchen, it is simply irresistible. And mind you, Thai food is not only about hot and spicy, with the mass fresh ingredient use in Thai cooking, the complexity of taste is unique and there are many mild Thai dishes are also quite delectable especially when  the spice quotient is a key ingredient that for us the food does take on the sublime. By mylifestylenews


Many restaurants in Hong Kong cannot afford street level frontage, so many great ones are now moved above street level. Café Siam is no exception but sensibly focuses on delivering great food on a third floor up a side street in Lang Kwai Fong precinct.


The décor is simple, but seems not to identify exactly what it wants to be, with vintage items scattered around all the dining areas – Singer sewing machines, old telephone, typewriters, bird cages, lamps, a mélange of photographs of different scenes and eras and so on to reminiscent the Thai nostalgia but in no particular order or to match the tables and chairs, it is quaint yet without any consistency.


Food is the main reason for finding this restaurant as we used to know its previous location while they were in Lyndhurst terrace. Hence, this was like visiting an old favourite in its new location. Browsing through the menu, we were apprised of so many of our favourite dishes remained as the list of options in all categories is still very extensive. They recommended a coconut juice and Thai beer to sip while we perused as with summer back in Hong Kong, this is always something to order while you are in a Thai restaurant. A very tasty selection of rice and prawn crackers with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce was also brought to the table to whet the appetite, although we felt the need to ask for some Nam Jim seafood sauce (a common savouring Thai dipping sauce that goes for almost every food) to really get into a spicy mood and this did the trick!


We decided that after recently spending some considerable time in Bangkok and Phuket enjoying our favourite dishes, why not order the same dishes back in Hong Kong and see how Café Siam delivers on the authenticity front after all these years; and coincidentally, just about every dish we intended to order is the signature dish marked.


Our attention was also caught by a great promotion at the moment, so we couldn’t pass up “The Freshest Tom Yum Goong Mussels”. This promotion delivered a bowl of ½ kg of Australian Boston Bay mussels for HK$138, including a refreshing pint of Singha Beer, which is only available until April 30. We have to say this is an absolute bargain that is not to be missed. The mussels were aplenty, with small to medium chunks of meat and, most important of all, great classic Tom Yum Goong stock with consistency and depth of flavor and immediately prick up the palate and transport you back to Thailand. This was exactly what we had hoped for.


We followed up the mussels with a Koh Moo Yang – char-grilled marinated pork neck with a tamarind, toasted rice and shallot dip. The pork neck was packed full of delicious char-grilled notes with a juicy tenderness. The dipping sauce was piquant enough to give so much more complexity in the mouth, which we totally relished with every mouthful. We were really in a zone by now and completely immersed in authentic Thai flavours, but the service was proving to be a bit disappointing. With the staff delivering each course with no heart but for the sake of delivering and clearing without any words of introducing the dishes and walked away as soon as they can be. Considering there is a number of Thai staff, The-land-of-smiles seemed to be a distant memory to them, this dampened our enthusiasm somewhat.


We continued to focus on the food and next up was a Goong Pad Prik Tai Dum – stir-fried spicy pepper prawns – and a Pla Krapong Neung Manao – steamed whole sea bass with Nam Jim seafood sauce on the side. Thai seafood dishes can be so defining and both of these did not disappoint. The sea bass was quite a contrast, but just as spicy in another way. The fish meat was beautifully juicy and soft to the touch, with the Nam Jim seafood sauce  adding a subtle citrusy zing to the fish flesh and the option of upping the stakes on the spice front, so you can make it as mild or as spicy as you want while you eat.


The prawns were utterly delicious and this is an all-round fabulous dish. The bush peppers that spice up this dish are also a delight and burst in the mouth with each bite, which elevates the depth of flavor.


 A salad was in order to freshen up the palate, we settled on the Yum Hua Plee – an all time favorite of banana blossom and shredded chicken salad with spicy peanut and coconut dressing. This is a very generous portion that is great value and is such a tasty blend of ingredients that you will thoroughly enjoy with a hint of spice without being overpowering.


At this point we realized that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, but needs must, and we gleefully ordered another signature dish, the Gai Yang – grilled whole baby chicken with crispy garlic served with sweet chili sauce, which was another stunner of a dish  as the Thais really know how to handle their chicken well. This was quintessentially succulent, moist, tender and packed full of flavor with more than a generous portion.


We could not resist the Poo Ob Woon Sen Maw Din – whole crab baked in a hotpot with glass noodles and Thai herbs. What a triumph this was, the aroma escape right away when the lid is taken away. Whole crab was served and with and with the body staying on top for as the garnish where the rest of the meat are buried within the glass noodle. The treasure of this dish is hidden within – underneath all glass noodle on the bottom of the hotpot are pieces of roast pork being cooked with other spices like star anise and cinnamon to impart a wonderful flavor to the rest of the dish. This unique combination is such a winner. To enjoy this dish, the crab once was the centre piece has to make way to the glass noodle as it had absorbed all the finest ingredients settles within during the cooking process. Two Thumbs up!


Dessert? Yes please! The signature Sang Kha Ya Fuk Thong is a must try – smooth pumpkin caramel custard in a Thai pumpkin. Two generous slices arrived for us to share and this custard with coconut sauce was scrumptious, with the smooth texture making it disappear in seconds. Aroi Mak Mak! The food here is the highlight on all counts and we will not hesitate to recommend and return, as the authentic flavours reminded us why Thai cuisine makes such a mark on the world food stage. We even observed a lot of take-away orders being picked up while  the restaurant was still running pretty full. Despite the service was perfunctory at times yet there are so much other food on the menu to be enjoyed and shared.


Tried & Tested:
Location: 4/5
Design & Decor: 3/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 2.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Experience: 4.5/5

Highlights:
Gai Yang
Poo Ob Woon Sen Maw Din 

21, D'Aguilar Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2851 4803

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