Celebrate flavor at Kettering’s Siam Pad Thai

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Drunken Noodles at Siam Pad Thai in Kettering; photos: Paula Johnson

All Thai cuisine starts with the big five: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. (More accurately, I should say all good Thai cuisine.) In a successful dish, that balance of three, or up to four or five of these taste sensations marry together in amazing and delightful ways. Thai food is at once aromatic and spicy, though not necessarily hot, with a variety of textures and colors to complement the variety of tastes. In short, it’s a festival in your mouth, if it’s done well. And it’s done well at Siam Pad Thai on Wilmington Pike in Kettering, as PIP (Palate In Progress) and I, along with dining buddies Debbie and Mike, found out on a recent Saturday night.

Siam Pad Thai is a tiny little gem of a place, and fortunately for our group, Mike had noticed the full parking lot after passing by several times. “I think we might need a reservation,” he suggested, and I am glad I took his advice. As we dined that Saturday, we watched a parade of people waiting clustered around the front door, looking wistfully at the platters of food being served around them. Yeah, we felt a little smug and in-the-know as we parted the sea of the reservation-less to our designated spot. (Pro tip No. 1: Make a reservation.)

Order for More

I had been advised about Siam Pad Thai by one of my favorite dining companions, Jurgen Durstler. Jurgen loves Siam Pad Thai, and he was strong on what I should order as an entrée, but mentioned nothing as to appetizers. In Thailand, it’s customary to serve more dishes than there are guests at the table, and we took this seriously, sampling six of the menu offerings. Each dish was nicely presented and well executed. Notably, the deep fried items were crisp and hot, crunchy and not greasy. Presentation-wise, the Friendship Shrimp ($5.95) was particularly clever, served on a bed of confetti cabbage in a goblet glass with four long crisp straws of fried spring roll skin poking out the top. Filled with marinated shrimp, pork, cream cheese, and a blend of Thai and Italian (!) spices, this is not your typical shrimp dish. Frankly it’s somewhat misnamed in that “shrimp” was only one and not the dominant element of the dish. Still, quite tasty and cleverly presented.

The table favorite may well have been the Fish Cakes ($5.95), minced whitefish fillets mixed with chili paste, formed into patties, lightly fried, and served with cucumber salad sauce. Springy and light in texture, sweet

and mild with a hint of chili, they went fast. Other notables: Siam Thai Roll, deep fried roll stuffed with chicken, onion, celery, cabbage, bean thread noodles, and mushroom, and Golden Bag ($5.95), seasoned and minced shrimp and chicken wrapped with egg roll skin, served with sweet and sour sauce. (Pro tip No. 2: Order like the Thai custom—you won’t be sorry.)

Siam Pad Thai also offers a sushi menu, of which Debbie and PIP availed themselves. Though they reported the rolls and nigiri as top notch, I was only interested in Thai food that night and didn’t sample.

Use Your Noodles

At Jurgen’s urging I knew I had to try the Beef Noodle Soup. It’s entrée-sized, so I would advise splitting it as a starter. If you don’t have someone to share it with, order it anyway. Take home what you don’t eat, and you will have the joy of this deeply savory, spicy, aromatic broth and thin, slippery noodles accented with pungent cilantro and onion for days to come.

Jurgen also insisted that I try the Drunken Noodles, a Chinese-influenced dish made popular by the Chinese people living in Thailand. The dish’s Thai name, khi mao, means drunkard. Legend has it the name comes from a man throwing everything available together after a night of excessive imbibing. The noodles in this dish are the wide, soft, flat style made from rice, mixed with red and green pepper, onion, broccoli, carrot, egg bamboo, basil leaves, and eggs, accented with soy and fish sauce. And a lot of spice. A note about spiciness: Siam Pad Thai offers levels from one to four. We went with three for all our dishes, as PIP and I both like some heat. The level of what we tried was certainly sufficient, bringing out the Kleenex to mop the brow and dab the nose once or twice, so order accordingly. (Pro tip No. 3: Stay low on the spice, as levels can always ramp up. And don’t go for water if you over spice—water will spread oils over your whole tongue and mouth, causing more heat. Instead, use white rice to absorb.)

PIP doesn’t have a great deal of Thai cuisine under his belt, and was unsure of what to choose. I urged him to consider one of several curries offered, something Thais are famous for. He demurred, spotting Thai Spicy Chicken ($9.95) with broccoli, carrot, bell pepper, baby corn, bamboo, cabbage, and Napa cabbage in spicy sauce. This dish also turned out to be a table favorite—savory, sharp, and really hot, balanced with forkfuls of fluffy white rice to sooth. My curry craving would have to wait for our next foray to Siam Pad Thai, but we are already planning a return trip. I’m in full agreement with Jurgen about Siam Pad Thai—it’s where I will go to get my Thai on!

 

Siam Pad Thai is located at 3027 Wilmington Pike in Kettering. For more information, please call 937.293.9606.

 

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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