Neighbourhood: St. Vital
Address: 587 St Anne’s Rd
Those of us who travel with our tastebuds are always searching for those dishes that come direct from the homeland—what the chef would serve to family and friends, or cook at home. We scour the city for hole-in-the-wall spots; we peer inconspicuously at other tables, to see what those in the know are ordering. Every so often, the dishes we have been searching for are right there on the menu before us.
Of course, Siam Thai carries all the usual suspects, and stellar versions at that. Servers shuttle plates piled with pad thai, fried rice, and coconut milk curries to eager customers.
But the page of chef’s specials at the back of the menu is where the kitchen gets to stretch its wings. “Drunken noodles”, a Thai dish borrowed loosely from Chinese cuisine (with a name of mysterious origin), is a bed of wide, flat rice noodles scattered with slices of bell pepper, beef and flecks of chile. The effect is a slow build, with earthy notes giving way to lingering burn.
Bird’s eye, or Thai chiles, are ubiquitous in Thai cooking, imparting a fiery burst of spice that keeps lips tingling. Here they are cooked into a chile jam, and tossed with a stir fry, the scarlet sauce imparting a fruity sweetness and complex spice.
Authentic tastes appear also on the lengthy dessert selection, like the nutty, custard-like pie made from yellow soy beans, accented with a swirl of warm coconut milk.