Siam Thai

512 Fort St, Victoria BC, tel 383 9911

With Thai dining options popping up all over town, Siam remains the bedrock of Thai restaurants in Victoria. With a comfortable atmosphere, thoughtful cuisine, good service and reasonable prices there's a reason it's past the test of time.

Having just returned from Europe, we were dying for something spicy and not at all French. We arrived and were seated promptly. While the service at Siam has always been good, they've changed something lately. The servers donned shirts and ties and exhibited a clear interest in doing more than taking your order. Our drink order was taken quickly and the server was remarkably attentive, offering suggestions and answering questions. While, he did disappoint us somewhat, returning from taking our dinner order to inform us the BBQ chicken wasn't available, he compensated by providing assistance in selecting an alternative.

We ordered the Tom Kah Gai ($6.95) to start, a coconut based soup with kaffir lime, chicken and mushrooms. The portion was large enough for 2-4 small servings and the soup was a perfect balance of creamy coconut milk, kaffir lime and citrus lime, with mild heat. This soup has the potential of being overly rich, but it was nice, light and carefully seasoned.

For our mains (in the absence of the BBQ chicken, which I love), we ordered the Chef's Special Vegetable Green Curry ($9.95) and the Kra Pow with pork ($11.95), accompanied by a medium white rice ($3). One unique feature about Siam, is that they have 'Chef's Special.' They don't change that often, but it's nice to think there's actually a chef in the back thinking about potential innovations for the menu. The Green Curry had a notably good selection of vegetables and tofu. Good flavour and appropriate heat. We were happy with the tenderness of the vegetables - still a little crunchy, they were clearly cooked to order. My only complaint was the julienned kaffir lime leaf added to the dish. They were either fresh or re-hydrated, but were still too fibourous to eat.

The Kra Pow (available with chicken, pork or beef) a sweet and sour style stir fry with basil and peppers offset the creaminess of the green curry well. Again the vegetable selection was good and the pork tender. The basil was apparent and was an all round tasty dish.

We didn't have room for dessert, but it was nice to see they had some unconventional choices. Asian restaurant don't tend to be known for their sweets, but Siam always has something on offer - tonight, a Banana Cream Cake and a Tapioca Pudding.

As for the food, we were happy with the portions, seasonings and executions, but would have liked to see a little attention to detail with regard to garnish and presentation.

Not a mind blower, the wine and beverage list is nevertheless above average for this style of restaurant. There are several import and domestic beers and a dozen or so wine selections. The wines are extremely mainstream, but there is a sensible selection with regard to food pairings. My suggestion would be to add some local wines.

I've always enjoyed Siam, but it's nice to see that they're staying competitive in the expanding Thai food market. The food's always been great, but the heightened service standard truly raises the bar.

reviewed Oct 23, 06