Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant

, by jberg, 9 Comments, Subscribe via Email

Since Mart and I started SarasotaFoodies’ blog, we’ve gotten a number of requests from restaurant owners asking us to do a profile on their restaurant.  But never had we had a customer call, email and follow up to make sure their favorite restaurant earned a visit. . . until we heard from Brad Buchmueller.  This man LOVES Siam Orchid, and wanted to tell the world.  So he started with us. . .

When Mart and I first met, he took me to Siam Orchid, telling me it was his favorite Thai place, because the food was always delicious, the place never crowded. (Something I just don’t understand!) Now that I’m one of the SarasotaFoodies, I’m reminded that in the quest to provide fresh posts to our readers, we sometimes neglect our favorite haunts.  Siam Orchid should have been one of the first posts on our blog, as they are local Thai restaurant royalty.

Siam Orchid was the very first Thai restaurant to open in Sarasota.  When it comes to our definition of A-Listers, this is certainly one of them.  In fact, a number of owners of newer Thai restaurants started their career as at Siam Orchid, something the owners are very proud of.

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Owned by Chef Supakit Vijitchawton, his wife Malai and her sister Nisakorn Loreski, Siam Orchid has been in the same location since opening in 1988. That, my friends, is some serious staying power! Chef Vijitchawton’s father was the lead chef at the Dusit Thani, an internationally acclaimed luxury hotel in Bangkok, so you could say he grew up in the Thai restaurant business.

Upon our arrival, Malai met us at the hostess stand, handed us a menu, and we suggested that we turn the menu selection over to her.  “For appetizers, I suggest the numbers 5 and 6 on the menu.  For the salad, I suggest the number 11, and certainly you’ll want to try the soup, number 17.  For the entrée, I suggest a duck course and a seafood — numbers 50 and 43, and you must try a pad thai. . . number 8.”  Whew!

“I want you to try a lot of flavors, so if you can’t eat them all, your server Juan will pack them up.  He’s good.  Been here 17 years.”

Our server, Juan, is a younger looking man.  17 years?  How old was he when he started? 10? That being said, he sure knows the menu, which is so critical in the business.

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Following Malai’s recommendations, we ordered our food and had just had a sip of our drinks, Mart had a Thai Chag beer and I had hot sake, when our two appetizers arrived.

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

The Chicken Satay (#5 on menu) and Fried Dumpling (#6) arrived hot and delicious.  The Satay featured four chicken strips that had been marinated in coconut milk and curry, then skewered and broiled over a flame to seal in the moist flavoring. Each skewer was bathed in a delightful peanut sauce, with a dusting of crushed peanuts, one of the reasons Satay is always a favorite Thai dish of mine.  It was all I could do to stop at one skewer, but knowing the amount of food coming our way, we both had our the second portion packed up to go.

Fried Dumplings from Siam Orchid

Fried Dumplings from Siam Orchid

Mart is such a huge dumpling fan, that he’s often eaten so many dumplings that he’s unable to finish his entrée.  These crispy fried dumplings were stuffed with vegetables and chicken, and served with a special house-made sauce that really made the flavors sing. I know it took all his will power to stop at only two, the balance being packed up to go home with us.

Two appetizers this good, and we’re only just starting?  We’re in trouble here…

Before we even arrived at Siam Orchid, he was already giving me the ‘head’s up’ that he’d be ordering the Yum Neau beef salad (#11) and that alternatives weren’t negotiable.  What can I say?  Truth be told, I always lean toward the Nam Sod (#13), but when Malai also recommended the salad Mart wanted, who was I to argue?

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Yum Neau Beef Salad

Sometimes it’s a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself, and this was certainly one of those times.  The Yum Neau was an absolute winner, with tasty fork-tender grilled tenderloin that had been marinated in Thai herbs and spices, served with cucumbers, thinly sliced onion, tomatoes and scallions. It is worth noting that before there was any talk of  “farm-to-fork”, and “organic” foodie talk, Malai was already harvesting fresh herbs, vegetables, and aromatics from her own pesticide-free garden, bringing them into the restaurant to be used the same day. We had ordered the Yum Neau with medium heat, so it had some real “zing” to it.  (Those who prefer a less spicy profile can order it toned down a notch.)  But, me?  I was glad to have tried something new, and would put this salad up against my favorite Nam Sod any day!

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Gai Tom Kha Soup

We were happily noshing away on our salad when we were introduced to the The Yum Neau soup. . . and (I know this sounds a little sappy) but the world stopped revolving for one moment as I fell absolutely in love with one of the bestest-of-the-best soups I’ve ever had in my life.  Siam Orchid’s Yum Neau soup should be on every foodies “bucket list”! Showing up as #8 on the menu, this aromatic soup hails from the southern region of Thailand, and features slices of chicken breast in a coconut milk broth with Thai herbs and seasonings.  There’s some red bell pepper, onions, fresh stalks of lemongrass, chunks of fresh ginger and kaffir lime leaves in the broth, and believe me. . . if I’m ever feeling the need to feel thoroughly spoiled, I’m sending Mart over to Siam Orchid for this soup.  Believe me, the Yum Neau soup alone is worth the trip, I don’t care where you’re coming from.

Pad Talay Gartium Prig Tai

Pad Talay Gartium Prig Tai

Up next was the Pad Talay Gartium Prig Tai.  Number 17 on the menu, this heaping dish of stir-fried shrimp, scallops and squid seasoned with fresh garlic and black pepper came with a side of rice, and was easily another front runner for best taste of the night.  Fresh and delicate flavors enhanced the large scallops – as tender and juicy as any I can remember – alongside shrimp and squid legs. It was almost too beautiful to eat!  (And almost impossible not to eat it all!)

Pad Thai from Siam Orchid

Pad Thai from Siam Orchid

Also arriving at the table was a heaping plate of Pad Thai; rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, ground peanuts, eggs, bean sprouts and green onions in a traditional Pad Thai sauce.  This was classic Thai food, done up Siam Orchid style.  The shrimp were huge (I know – that’s an oxymoron!) and the crunchy bean sprouts and peanuts plentiful.  Pad Thai at Siam Orchid is certainly a “not-to-be-missed” dish!

Ped Tod Grob (duck!)

Ped Tod Grob (duck!)

Our final plate of this foodie feast was a gorgeous and savory Ped Tod Grob (#50) a full half duck marinated in Thai herbs, then deep fried until the skin was golden and crackling-crispy, resulting in meat that was soooo juicy and flavorful and served with Thai sauce and vegetables.  Again, I can’t remember having a better tasting duck than this!

So we end our evening reminded of an important foodie fact.  Any restaurant that succeeds at winning award after award for Best Thai Food, year after year, should be top of our lists when recommending restaurants to our readers, friends and family.  The service was spot on, the taste was exceptional, and atmosphere warm and friendly.  And did I mention the soup?

To our new friends at Siam Orchid…ขอขอบคุณที่คุณเป็นอย่างมากและเราจะได้พบกับคุณอีกในไม่ช้า

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9 Responses

  1. We have been enjoying the fresh Thai food at Siam Orchid for over 20 years now. It is our go to place when we are hungry for Thai, and that’s frequently!

  2. Kitty says:

    Thanks so much for this review! It’s my favorite restaurant, hands down. I ate so much of that #8 soup while pregnant, that Malai & Nissy have teased me that my daughter is made of coconut soup! 🙂

  3. jm says:

    Sadly you did not mention the pricing at this well established eatery. VERY OVERPRICED!!!#unnecessary. I find the appetizers and soups are several bucks more than any other Thai restaurant in the area. Sadly there are so few Thai restaurants we are forced to deal with the bland flavors that Bangkok serves or pay up for Siam’s.
    Sarasota could use a really delicious really affordable Thai eatery.

    • jberg says:

      I don’t disagree, but we’ve found that quality ingredients always add a bit more to the price. In the case of Siam Orchid, we felt the value was in the taste of the food, which we felt was well worth the money, hence pricing wasn’t a question for us. If there becomes a way to save money while delivering the same great taste, my guess is these folks will be doing it. In the meantime, I hope they never sacrifice on quality.

  4. Kevin says:

    My closest friends and family recently celebrated my wife’s birthday at Siam Orchid. This fantastic experience started when we were graciously greeted by Malai at the door, and continued throughout the evening. Siam Orchid easily accommodated my request to seat 15-20 people, and this was done in a way that was enjoyed by all. The spring roll and soup appetizers, Pad Thai, Chef’s Special and even the coconut ice cream served for dessert were all excellent. I would highly recommend Siam Orchid for anyone looking for authentic Thai Food in addition to a pleasurable dining experience in Sarasota, FL.

  5. Julie Hyatt- Turner says:

    We enjoy a meal here a few times a year with visiting family, including Valentine’s day for the past 10yrs. Each time I try something different and have yet to be disappointed.

  6. Sandy Barber says:

    My husband, David Barber, has known Nissy since she and her husband owned Lester’s Dinner (’70’s). We followed her to Siam Orchard when they opened their doors. Introduced many friends to the restaurant. We no longer live in Sarasota, however miss Siam Orchard. Best Thai food ever!

  7. Adam says:

    Nope, nope, nope. I was fooled into going to this place because of your review. All I can say is “Ugh, bland” I ordered my pad thai “super thai hot” and a little bit of heat was just about the only flavor of the dish. I thought pad thai would be a safe choice that would be hard to mess up, evidently this was not the case. The flavor itself was thin and bland, not even close to the rich flavors served at places like Thai Palace in Bradenton, or even Star Thai and Sushi in Sarasota. To make matters worse, there was an abundance of raw bean sprouts in the dish that overwhelmed the otherwise weak flavor with a tinny raw bean sprout flavor.

    The soup served before the main dish was even worse than the pad thai, tasting watery and very bland. No spice tray was available, just a bowl of chili oil. I put enough chili oil in the soup that it made me cough, but this still was not enough to save the watery flavor. I could pick about any random Thai place in Sarasota and say the soup is likely better than what I tasted the other day. Egg roll was nothing special either.

    To sum it up I was extremely disappointed by the weak flavors I received overall. If this is one of your favorite Thai places, you seriously need to get out and explore a bit more… Thai Palace, Star Thai, Issan, Thailand Steakhouse, Bangkok… Every single one of those is considerably better than what I was served at Siam Orchid yesterday…

    • jberg says:

      Wow Adam!
      I am so very surprised. We go to Siam Orchid as often as possible, and understand many of their cooks have gone on to open some of the restaurants that you named. I don’t know what soup you ordered, but the Gai Tom Kha is one of my FAVORITE soups, especially when I’m not feeling well. I don’t know how many times Mart has picked up a bowl of their soup for myself, friends and family, but it’s amazing. While I like spice, I’m guessing you like Thai food that’s hotter than I do. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience, and I’m leaving your comments on our blog for others to consider. Thanks!

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