Dad was making waves that we hadnâ€™t gone out for Thai food for sometime and was dropping hints like crazy that he wanted a big plate of something â€œwith a lot of sauce.â€ He is so earnest when he gets like that and Mom begs me to take Dad out so that she doesnâ€™t have to listen to endless rounds of â€œI really hope we have Thai food soonâ€ from Dad.
So, I told Dad to be ready to go at 6 PM sharp and we would be heading west to find some decent Thai food. I wasnâ€™t sure exactly where the place I had in mind would be located, but I copied the address and hoped that there would be some decent signage. The name of the place was Siam Thai Restaurant and I had a feeling it would be in some aging strip mall with a faded sign and smoked glass hiding the interior.
I was correct all the way around and the signage was faded enough that I missed the turn into the parking lot, having to maneuver my way around a couple of city blocks to get back on Glendale Avenue and turn into the place. We parked and entered the place. I didnâ€™t know what to expect because the smoked glass did not allow us to see anything before we opened the door. But when we did, we were pleasantly surprised.
The red and gold interior was serene and fairly quiet, but there were plenty of people enjoying their meals. We were quickly seated off to the side at a spacious table and were handed menus. Our server arrived and took our drink order with Dad and me both ordering Diet Cokes ($2.00 each). She indicated she would be back shortly and headed for the kitchen.
Dad and I looked over the menu and since Dad wanted something â€œwith a lot of sauceâ€ I directed him to one of the many curry options. Dad immediately picked up on the Pineapple Curry with Duck ($11.95) and also indicated he wanted some soup, so I ordered the Tom Kah Soup with Chicken ($8.95). For myself, I got the Gang-Ga-Ree with Beef ($8.95) and also ordered some Thai Toast ($7.95). When our server returned with the drinks, we placed the order and she mentioned that she would return with the soup first.
Dad and I were discussing the feel of the place. It was really comfortable and I liked that the tables were spread out and were quite large themselves. The chairs were comfortable and the place, while worn, was clean and attractive. We watched as the staff was busy clearing tables and seating guests. It was very efficient, but we did notice that when they rolled up the sleeves and started cleaning, guests would have to flag them down for refills and to answer questions.
After about 10 minutes, our soup arrived. Dad was in awe because he had never had Thai soup before. The traditional ring oâ€™ soup with flames shooting out from the center put a look on his face like a kid in a well-stocked candy store. He stared at the soup and then at me hoping I would be willing to guide him. So, I grabbed the spoon and filled our two bowls with the pale brown liquid of coconut milk stuffed full of chicken, mushrooms, galangal, lime juice and stands of lemongrass. Dad took a bite and was a bit caught off guard with the taste. â€œThis is really strong!â€ he exclaimed. And it was. The seasoning and spice in the soup were quite good and we enjoyed it immensely. Dad was really in love with the soup mostly because of the novelty of it all, but I did think it was a pleasant soup .
As we gulped down the soup, our Thai Toast arrived. Dad had never had this dish either so, again, he looked to me for direction. â€œYou can eat it with a fork or with your hands,â€ I said. â€œBut if you eat it with your hands, I will have to tell Mom.â€ I think he took me far too seriously because he used his fork to eat his first piece. I grabbed one as well â€“ oddly, with my fork, too â€“ and drizzled on a bit of the cucumber chutney that accompanied the toast. I cut into the triangle and it was wonderfully crunchy. The toast had been piled with ground pork and spices and then deep fried. The taste was slightly salty and very savory. I loved the sweetness the chutney brought to each bite. The toast was an excellent appetizer and Dad was very pleased with it, although he did say that it would have been better with some peanut sauce (shocking, I know).
There was a short gap between the appetizers and our entrees and we had another round of drinks before out server arrived with a big bowl of rice and fresh silverware (a very nice touch). She removed the used dishes and said our entrees were on the way.
Dadâ€™s Pineapple Curry with Duck was the first thing to hit the table. The aroma was outstanding and Dad was all smiles as he scooped out a saucy spoonful of the red curry and coconut milk and dumped it onto the waiting rice. The curry was orange in color and was loaded with plenty of duck meat, pineapple chunks, onion and basil. I also liked the occasional bit of red bell pepper that gave the dish some crunch. The curry was over-the-top flavorful and Dad and I found this dish exceptional because it was well executed. Everything seemed fragrant, fresh and delicious.
My Gang-Ga-Ree with Beef was also quite fragrant. Dad was giddy when he saw the whole peanuts in the dish along with the beef, potatoes and onions. I loved the mix of flavors but found the spice level to be very inconsistent. One bite would be hot and the next would be rather mild. It was a minor point, but a rather odd experience. The beef was fork tender, however, and the entrÃ©e succeeded in making me happy. Dad thought the pineapple curry dish was a better choice but said he liked my dish as well.
After clearing our plates of any molecules of food, we debated on getting dessert. We were initially going to pass on anything as we were getting quite full, but our server ask the magic question â€œNot even some coconut ice cream?â€ and we had no choice but to give in and ordered the ice cream ($2.95).
Only a minute or two passed and our Coconut Ice Cream arrived with two spoons. It was a small serving but suited our needs by cooling the fire in our mouths and wrapping up the meal. It was very good and quite creamy. The small rolled cookie was also nice. We found that the small serving was a perfect end to our meal.
We requested our bill and the total was $49.60 which included tax. We thought the value for the money was very good. Other than a few minor lapses, the service was decent and friendly. Overall, we had no complaints other than the inconsistent spice level of my dish which, again, was somewhat unimportant.
As we headed back to Phoenix, Dad was yammering on about the duck and the pineapple curry and launching into stories about how they didn’t have that sort of thing in Arizona back in the 1950s. He then reiterated for the umpteenth time that anytime I wanted to go get Thai food, he would be more than happy to accompany me.
They’re so cute when they get into their 70s.
Siam Thai Restaurant
5008 West Northern Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85301
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday – 11 AM to 9 PM; Friday – 11 AM to 10 PM; Saturday – 12 PM to 10 PM; Sunday 12 PM to 9 PM; Closed Mondays.
Notes: The street sign is very small, so look sharp or else you will have to double back.
Alcohol: Limited beer and wine selection.