I Am Siam

As I pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall that I Am Siam is nestled in, I almost drove right back out the other side. I just wasn’t in the mood for Thai food (which is quite uncommon for me). Once I saw this place, I REALLY wasn’t in the mood:

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(The sunshine makes it look a lot more beautiful than it really was.)

It was a beautiful night though, and my windows were down, so there was this aroma of delicious food that I couldn’t resist (which is quite common for me). I parked the car and followed my nose, in hopes of finding a consolation prize greater than that offered by Toucan Sam.

Have you ever had one of those moments of relief, when you look around and realize you’re the minority in the room? Being the only bright white in the restaurant immediately put me at ease. I smiled and threw out my catchline, “Table for one please.”

As I often do, I asked my server what she recommended. “Spring Rolls and Pad Thai.” Really? What if I wasn’t white?

I was not feeling too confident in my cliché white girl order as I sat at my table waiting for my food to arrive.

When these spring rolls came, I may have let out an audible gasp though. I’m not sure if this was the reason my server stayed by my side for the first bite, but as soon as she saw the sheer joy on my face, she, too, let out a little squeal. (Thank God for universal language of gasps and squeals.)

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Once I dug out the spring rolls from the peanuts they had been buried in, I was delighted to discover they were not fried. They were, however, swimming in a wonderful house sauce (not to be confused with Hoisin sauce, which it was not). I asked the server what the sauce was.

“Secret sauce.”

“It’s so great! What’s in it?”

“I said it secret.” Oh. That kind of secret sauce. Normally this purposefully vague answer would not suffice, but I didn’t even mind the sketchy reply.

My Pad Thai followed suite. And although I was not entirely sure of its ingredients, the squeezed lime perfectly pulled out both the spicy chili pepper and sweet peanut flavors. With the crispy fresh veggies thrown in, I could have been eating a dish made by my parents’ (who live in Asia) house helper.

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My only disappointment was the cookie flavor left in my mouth as I walked back to my car. I recommend staying away from the cookies that come with the tab. Fortune cookies are a step up (and I hate fortune cookies).

I continue to be amazed when strip malls do not turn out to be the epicurean wastelands I often think of them as. Thank you for the surprises and secret sauces, Siam.

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