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House of Siam, Brookfield Plaza in Springfield - Thai on Spring Garden Drive - Closed

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(Side note -- drop me anywhere near Brookfield Plaza some morning with $20 in my pocket, and I'll eat like a king all day long and have change in my pocket.)

Sahm Oh Jong is a little place off to the side of Brookfield Plaza, in the same row as House of Siam, Spring Garden and Bombay Buffet (all very good).

(And as you already know, you can now add Ravi Kabob to this list.)

A well-known chef recently sent me an email, urging me to try House of Siam. This was not an ordinary recommendation; it was something close to a rave - a cross between "you can't let this little mom-n-pop go under" and "this unknown secret could be your next Thai Square."

I went tonight determined to fall in love with this place, and was almost desperately looking forward to rushing home and writing a glowing review.

On the menu:

5. Hoi Jo ($6.50), Deep fried shrimp and crab roll served with sweet and sour sauce
8. Yum Nuar ($7.25), Grilled beef sliced, mixed in chili, onions, and lemon juice
23. Pad Prik Khing ($7.95), Stir-fried chicken with string bean and chili
48. Pad Phed Puck ($6.50), Stir-fried mixed vegetables with Thai curry
55. Duck Noodles Soup ($7.50), Noodles soup with sliced duck and bean sprouts
59. Pad Thai ($7.50), Spicy rice noodles stir-fried with pork, shrimp, egg, and bean sprouts
Chang, Singha, $3.75 a bottle.

Of all the dishes, nothing stood out; the Pad Thai may have been my favorite, and I thought it was merely good.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to shine a light on House of Siam, mainly because it's a honest-to-goodness mon-n-pop with food cooked to order (mom), and genuinely caring, friendly service (pop). If I lived in Springfield, I'd consider it again, especially for weeknight carryout.


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I'm there, Don! I'll hit it throughout the next couple of weeks and keep it afloat. Put me in, Coach.

By the way, my boss is a proud Pakistani and is taking all of us to Ravi Kabob in Ballston next Thursday. I wonder if I should re-vector the crowd to Brookfield Plaza.

Somewhere in my addled mind is the concept of a fused $20 Tuesday and a DR picnic, staged as a progressive meal set in Brookfield Plaza. We all meet in the parking lot with about $30 in each of our pockets, and then we fan out. There's La Hacienda and Tippy's Tacos, Sahm Oh Jang and House of Siam, Chutny and Ravi Kabob, Bombay Buffet and the new Afghan kabob place (Food Corner?) in front of Brookfield...across Backlick there's Le Bledo Bakery and Delia's, with a new Village Chicken place and Asian Spices shop on the same strip as Delia's. And just north of the Toyota dealer on Backlick is Aabshaar, which ranks with Ravi Kabob as the finest Pakistani food in, uh, Springfield. All within walking distance.

Can we call it a roving and progressive $30 DR.com picnic...?

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OK, Don, I'm back with a report. Had dinner tonight (Sunday) at both Ravi Kabob 3 and House of Siam, both in the Brookfield Plaza in Springfield.

Ravi Kabob 3 is going to provide some reasonable Pakistani competition for Aabshaar, a short walk up Backlick. The menu doesn't yet appear to be as extensive as the other two Ravi Kabobs, but the service is pleasant and the food is very, very good. Had the Special Samosa with Chana for $2.99 and it was delicious, followed by the Ravi Kabob Special for $11.99, which had chicken kabob and ground beef kabob, along with bread and two sides (mine were spinach and rice). This is dependable, flavorful and spicy fare. I once remarked, after taking a bite of chicken at El Pollo Rico, that I had just tasted the single best bite of chicken that had ever entered my mouth. Tonight, when the chicken kabob passed my lips, I had the same revelation. Absolutely cooked to perfection, with a turmeric tinted crust that was almost crunchy, and a tender and juicy interior, with flavor and texture that could not have been better. I will say, however, that at 5pm or so, the place was almost empty. I doubt that will be the case for long. On the downside, the hardest drink in the place is a Coke.

Next stop was House of Siam, about 2-3 doors down. Girlfriend and I ordered off the New Items menu. We had one yum (salad) and it was quite tasty -- ground pork and Thai sausage mixed with lettuce, julienned ginger, cilantro, tomato, onion and peanuts, served Thai spicy. I was very pleasantly surprised. We ordered two entrees and in deference to my girlfriend we asked for American spicy for these -- sauteed mussels in a garlic-soy sauce, and seafood chunks in a curry-coconut milk sauce. I couldn't find a flaw in either dish. The mussels were meaty and fresh, and the garlic soy sauce was so good I wanted to drink it. The seafood curry was so good I would come back just for that dish. The chunks of seafood appeared to be gently fried for a nice mouth-feel crunch, and then married up with flawless veggies and mushrooms in a tasty coconut milk sauce with curry flavors serving as the backdrop. I agree with Don on the mom-n-pop allure of the place, and while we were eating, the large center table filled up with a Thai family of 13. I'm glad mom-n-pop had a profitable evening, because the food is good, the service is sincere and the place is worthy of many more visits.

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I would be hard-pressed to name another string of quality food within 20-25 steps from each other. Sahm Oh Jong, Ravi Kabob House III and House of Siam are literally side-by-side in Brookfield Plaza off Backlick Road in Springfield. When you're very hungry and very undecided, come here. You can eat to your heart's content all up and down the street.

House of Siam is getting onto my Thai rotation. The food here is very good, and they've been doing it in the same place for 17 years. Girlfriend and I had four dishes tonight, thinking that we were going to bag up the leftovers for tomorrow. Uh....there were no leftovers. This is well-priced Thai food in a nice dining room, with fresh flavors and medium portions, lots of spice in the dishes and very friendly (family-operated) service.

We had mussels in Thai basil, nicely spicy with meaty mussels. The sauce left behind was worthy of dipping lots of steamed rice into so as to not waste the flavor. Then we had duck in spicy Thai basil sauce, extremely good and with plenty of duck to share. The flavor of the duck was as good or better than any duck dish I've tasted this side of Present. On to the house special fried rice, which was a seafood combination, and pleasantly spicy. It was full of fresh and vibrant flavors, along with perfect textures. Lastly there was Pad Thai seafood combination, worthy of a repeat visit on its own, and as good as any Pad Thai I've had since Thai Basil in Chantilly last year. Start to finish, this was a very good meal, and at about $8.95 per dish, not a bad deal either.

After the meal we walked a few doors up the strip to a halal meat market and bought about 10 lbs. of beautiful chicken for a meal for four on Saturday. OK, maybe that's a bit of overkill, but there will definitely be leftovers this time.

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Had another fine meal at House of Siam last Sunday night. The place was about half-filled, including a mostly-Asian group in the big central table. The host (co-owner?) was his usual gracious and helpful self. The food was excellent -- started with the duck salad and then the drunken noodles this time for me. My only critique of this place is that the portions tend to be small, thus inhibiting sharing and limiting the fun to be had with next-day leftovers.

I love the fact that so much good food is within steps of each other -- Sahm Oh Jong and Ravi Kabob III are almost next door, Chutny is across the way, and Le Bledo Bakery (and Vietnamese lunch counter) is right across Backlick Road. You can have your Disney-esque 'Town Centers' all you want, but give me Brookfield Plaza any day.

[Early news flash, to be developed by a direct field report soon, but slightly down Backlick, in the same little strip mall as Delia's, and between Delia's and Asian Spices, where the old Village Chicken was, there appears to be going in there a Bolivian restaurant. The sign on the door was something like Sabor Boliviano. I will check it out and confirm whether or not Saltenas can be had there!]

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I had a delicious DR dinner at House of Siam (I loved the larb) & tried a couple of times to meet a friend there for lunch-once they were closed on Mon. & the next time they were just closed, permanently. I saw that they had reopened as Thai Ghang Waan & decided to pick up lunch for my friend, who's moving cross country. I picked up larb & som tang, both very good, pad kha prow (I would have liked it hotter, but I didn't specifically ask for that), & pad lad na (wide noodles w/ broccoli & brown sauce)- I didn't try this, got it for those who like not-spicy, but I liked that they packed the noodles & sauce separately, so it wouldn't spill or get soggy. Fried rice was,well, fried rice -it was all good, average sized servings & pleasant fast service. It's not too close to me (I have several good options), but if I were in the area, I'd definitely try some more dishes.

You scooped me, Thistle. I hadn't been there in a few months, so apparently the smallish crowds weren't sustaining House of Siam. I look forward to trying the new place soon. Is is worthy of a DR dinner?

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