In the Lake Ella plaza, next to Publix (where Hopkins Eatery was most recently–it’s moved over to one of the side-strips, by the way), is an unassuming exterior with simple, sans serif letters proclaiming the new restaurant inside: Siam Sushi.
There is a patio area for overflow seating (or those few weeks a year when outdoor eating in Florida is a possibility) and a simple glass door. The inside, however, is filled with gleaming dark wood, contemporary design, low lighting and a large bar–something you wouldn’t expect just from the outside.
And neither is the food.
I’d been awaiting their opening since I saw the sign go up–another sushi place close to home AND serves Thai food? Heaven! After all, Rice Bowl is no longer and our side of town was really feeling the lack. So August comes and we decide to go the very night the local paper reviewed them with 4 hats–not planned and they were a little overwhelmed.
Nonetheless our waitress was attentive and very helpful in explaining the extensive menu and making recommendations.
We started with drinks: a Raspberry Lemon Drop for Todd and a Siam Passion Fruit Cosmo for me ($9 each). Both were a little heavy, not as balanced as we prefer. Considering I mix a new cocktail every week, this is something that’s probably only going to bug me, but if you prefer a decent dose of mixer in your drink, order carefully.
The hostess stand had posted several sushi rolls as specials of the night and we decided to split on–the Peter Roll ($14)–as an appetizer. Not appearing on the regular menu, this sushi alone was worth the price of admission: tasty, fresh, packed with fish and flavor and the sauce was such a wonderful complement. I wish I could remember what all went in it but I know salmon and yellowfin tuna were the main fish. Seriously, if you see this on special you might want to consider ordering it.
With such a large menu it’s easy to overlook entire sections just from the general overwhelm. This is where our server, Carly, came in handy–she pointed out that there were several duck entrees (found under House Specialties) with the Spicy Duck ($18) being a particular favorite. Not usually a big duck fan, Todd decided it sounded good enough to try and was not let down. Not only was the portion huge it was amazingly flavorful and the skin was crisped ever so slightly. He was kind enough to share (of course) and I was almost sorry I didn’t order it for myself.
Instead, I was in a noodle mood so got the Rad Na with Beef, Medium Spicy ($14). Lots of veggies and some of the most tender beef I’ve had in a while atop wide noodles in a rich brown sauce. If you’re looking for some solid comfort food, go ahead and give this a try. The various entrees are priced according to your protein choice from tofu/vegetables at $12 to seafood at $18, so you can customize your dinner among the different styles available. (The Beef Spare Ribs in Masaman Curry is another crowd favorite, we were informed.)
At this point we were pretty stuffed and intending to ask for the check as soon as our server appeared but, oh, she mentioned desserts and one in particular: Thai Beignets ($5). Now, being more than passingly familiar with Cafe Du Monde the word beignet carries a certain level of expectation–almost as strong as the will to resist is weak. Of course we ordered them, especially when we heard the were served with dark and white chocolate sauces and a mango reduction. Duh.
Now, for the record, these are not the crisp and air-puffed beignets of New Orleans fame. Of course, in French beignet simply means doughnut so we’re not going to quibble too much on that score. The doughnuts, themselves, remind me of the canned biscuits Mom would quarter and fry as doughnut holes when I was a kid. She’d give them to me in a paper bag to shake with powdered sugar–such a great treat on cold nights. I don’t care if that’s what they’re doing in the kitchen at Siam Sushi, they were tasty on their own and even better when dragged through the swirled chocolate sauces on the plate. The mango reduction, on the other hand, was more like cane syrup, really, it had been reduced so far that the mango was easily lost. Still, a little more sweet on a plate like this isn’t a problem for us.
Overall, I agree with the 4-hat rating of the newspaper. As good as the entrees were, they didn’t hold a candle to the amazing sushi. The cocktail menu needs work and the second seating area still needs some spiffing up (stacks of chairs were just to the side of our table and some tables were bare, others had white tablecloths, others had white vinyl covers on them–minor details but they make a difference).
We’re so glad we tried a sushi roll–truly this is where they excel–and are curious to try some of their actual appetizers. On our next trip we’ll concentrate on the sushi offerings–they also feature combos and a la carte pricing–and maybe try their take-out or lunch menu some weekend.
Siam Sushi is located at 1701 N Monroe Street, in the Lake Ella shopping center, and open until 10pm Sunday through Thursday, until 11pm Friday and Saturday. They do take reservations (850-391-9021).