Siam Chan – West LA

Last Friday, Josie and I drove over to UCLA to attend our friends’ graduations. It was sort of bittersweet, as it marked the end of our close friends’ undergraduate journey at UCLA. Time flies by so quickly. It was just last year that I sat in those same exact seats, waiting to turn my tassel.

Lovely Thai style painting of kinnari (celestial bird-like maidens)

To celebrate Michelle’s graduation, we decided to eat at Siam Chan, after deliberating on a handful of different Thai restaurants in the West LA area. I was a bit skeptical, as the average yelp rating for the place was 3.5 stars, respectable but not spectacular.

Emerald Buddha altar perched on a wall

The seating space was tiny, a bunch of tables crammed into a room probably the size of a small living room. We waited for a few minutes outside as the waiters reconfigured the tables to seat our party of 5.

Siam Chan’s laminated menu on a batik patterned tablecloth usually used to make sarongs.

All of us, famished and a bit dazed, quickly made our orders and awaited the food’s arrival. The menu offerings are typical for any Thai restaurant. There’s also a dinner special (for $10) that comes with Thai iced tea, shrimp fried rice, egg and salad), for a limited selection of entrees.

The $1.50 Thai iced tea

The Thai iced tea that Josie and I ordered arrived first. It was more milk than tea, and I could barely taste the brewed black tea (as the above photo illustrates–well-made Thai tea is dense with a strong brew of black tea, almost pitchblack at the bottom).

Spicy fried rice… without mint

Josie ordered the spicy fried rice. Unfortunately, the restaurant had run out of mint, so the dish felt like it was missing something. The fried rice came in generous portions, but was not spicy, as the misleading name implied.

A classic: pad see ew

One of our friends, Janet, ordered a classic, the pad see ew, pan-fried rice noodles with beef.

Vegetarian red curry

The vegetarian in our group (and c/o 2012 grad), Michelle, was split on getting a vegetable curry or a red curry. She opted for a red curry, which comes separately with the rice. I honestly dislike restaurants that charge separately for bowls of rice, especially for dishes that, by default, are eaten with rice. Who the hell eats curry without rice? -_-

Another classic: rad na

The eldest (also graduating this year with a Master’s!), Rosalie, ordered another classic Thai dish, rad na (also known as lad na), stir-fried rice noodles drenched in a starchy gravy. ‘Twas alright. Just your average rad na.

Jun pu: pan-fried noodles with crab meat

I tried to be a bit adventurous and ordered the jun pu, described on the menu as “Thai rice noodles pan-fried with real crab meat, egg, onion and chili.” First, the portion sizes were measly, fit for a kid’s menu. Second, where was all the “real” crab meat? Third, where did all the chili go? The noodles were not spicy at all. The dish was lackluster. It tasted like pad thai, except more sour-sweet and soggy from all the oil. I wouldn’t have guessed it was pan-fried.

All in all, Siam Chan was just okay. It delivered what I expected from the 3.5 star rating on Yelp, but I can’t complain about the price. There are plenty of other Thai places in West LA that provide tastier Thai.

Peace,

Justin

P.S. Shout out to UCLA’s class of 2012! Congratulations Michelle, Rosalie, Laurie, Alvin and everyone else~!

1611 Colby Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025
www.siamchanrestaurant.com

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