Name: Siam Society
Location: 2703 NE Alberta Street
Contact information: 503.922.-3675
Web address: www.siamsociety.com
Hours: Opens at 4 p.m. every day. Close at 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, midnight Friday-Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Mondays!
Cost: Appetizers around $7, entrees around $17
Reservation recommended: Yup
Good for: Excellent, authentic Thai in an upscale atmosphere
Insider tip: There’s both an early (until 6 p.m.) and late (9 or 10 p.m. until close) happy hour
Let me start off by saying, my meal at Siam Society was not a normal one. I did not walk in with a few other people, order a round of drinks and chow down on a few appetizers and entrees. Rather, I attended a ‘tasting meal’ with the folks over at PortlandFood.org. The menu was specifically designed for the group of 25 or so people, and extended out over the course of 3 hours.
Since the meal centered around meat dishes, I am unable to comment on a number of the items that were served. However, my un-foodie dining companion attested that his favorite dish was the massaman curry lauded on Portland Food and Drink. Despite the fact he doesn’t consider himself a Thai food fan, he enjoyed nearly every dish…which is perhaps a better testament to the cooking at Siam Society than any dish-by-dish food blog breakdown.
Since I was unable to eat many of the items served, our waiter Robert graciously brought me a few substitutes. Throughout the time we were there, I found the service to be outstandingly attentive, especially for a group of our size. If you’re one to request a particular waiter, Robert is one to ask for if you head to the Siam Society.
My tastings consisted of the vegetarian spring rolls ($7), salad rolls ($8), mixed green salad ($6), fried catfish curry (not on menu), pan-seared scallops ($19), two types of ice cream/sorbet (approx $7) and grilled bananas/sticky rice (approx $7).
The vegetarian spring rolls contain a nod to their Oregon roots with the inclusion of hazelnuts. The two dipping sauces were fantastic – neither too sweet or spicy. I found the salad rolls ‘uninspiring’ and lacking the flavor to stand on their own, without the dipping sauces. However, I am not one who would usually order this dish.
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My coconut-dressed salad was enormous! Again, I cannot attest to the usual sizes, but this could easily be split between two people who wanted a salad before their meal. I prefer to skip dishes that can be found in most restaurants, and order soups over salads. Therefore I would try another appetizer on a return visit.
The fried catfish sweet curry with jalepenos brought back powerful memories of a meal I had on Koh Samet a few years back. Unfortunately, that one had contained bad shrimp, so the reincarnations weren’t entirely pleasant…at least I can attest to its authenticity!
My scallops surprised me – after the richness and intensity contained in the other dishes I tired (and heard about), the flavors seemed muted and underwhelming. The scallops themselves were slightly tougher than I expected. Although not a poor-tasting dish, I would skip it in favor of the more lively curries.
The vivacious cardamom sorbet and hibiscus-lime ice cream were excellent ways to finish off the meal. The banana/sticky rice combo was too easily separated, and thus it was hard to get a bite that contained both complimentary flavors.
In my opinion, the Siam Society is a restaurant I’d feel comfortable recommending to anyone in search of an upscale Thai meal.
A final note about the drinks – the cocktail list looked impressive and tasty. This is one of my next ‘must try’ happy hour spots.