On a good day, it’s a 90-minute drive up the big hill and through tall greenery to Beaverton, a radiant suburb of Portland. My job was to make an appointment for the eye.
As it turned out, the highlight was an entertaining dinner at Siam Lotus, a quaint Thai restaurant with a great menu, attentive service, and happy cannibals. We were two couples. The highlight was the food: fragrant, inviting and delicious. Better than tasty. In fact, this was the best Thai meal I’ve eaten in one heck for a long time. Maybe at all.
I love Asian cuisine. Both on the Long Beach Peninsula and in Astoria, we have a number of decent options. Some great entrees. Some tend to be somewhat predictable: Kung Poo Chicken, Fad Thai, Spring Rolls, or General Tso, which I like when options are limited. What I like to find are more seasonal specialties: wild mushrooms, fresh halibut, navy beans, salmon, baby oysters or Asian garden greens, prepared, of course, in authentic styles including Chinese and Thai. Food from our waters and backyards. I find the taste of the local dinner varied and refined. They know new methods and avant-garde preparations. They talk food and cook well. From time to time, when they want great world cuisine, they drive to urban centers, where there is always something new to discover.
Siam Lotus serves beautiful dishes, ample portions, and delicacies with time. The establishment’s chefs are skilled with quick hands, perfect cutting knives and a gift for lamination. They know the sauce. And the joy of all that is a rush of the senses.
When a plate of yerba jay and asparagus yam arrived, resplendent with sauces, spicy and flavorful with perfectly cooked vegetables and fresh marinated fruit, we sank in a rage. The equally amazing shrimp and asparagus salad was beautiful and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of spices and tamarind. I once had ground chicken delight – yerba gai – in Ubud, Bali, an upscale meal gently cooked in a small home kitchen with windows open for evening breezes.
Here, in the western suburbs of Portland, I was not disappointed. At Siam Lotus, our entrees included fried pork leg, roast duck with coconut milk added, red curry, pineapple, cherry tomatoes and of course lemon kaffir and sweet basil leaves. There was a spicy, northern-style Thai sausage, and of course the traditional rice dish complemented the meal.
Here is a recipe from Ayu, our dear friend from Bali. She is an American citizen who lives with her beautiful family in Spokane.
- 2 tablespoons of toasted rice powder. You can buy this or make this by roasting uncooked rice in a skillet until golden and grinding it with a pestle.
- 16 ounces finely chopped roasted chicken, white or dark meat
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 5 teaspoons lemon juice
- cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
- 2 tablespoons of thinly sliced onions
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon
- 1 tablespoon Thai soy sauce
- mint leaves (garnish)
- romaine lettuce leaves (to serve)
- Thai Basil (Appetizer)
- Bean sprouts (to serve)
Grill the chicken and chop it finely. Transfer the mixture to a bowl with the onions, green onions, cilantro, rice powder, and chili flakes.
In a smaller bowl, mix all the remaining spices and slowly pour them into the bowl of dry ingredients.
Serve on romaine leaves with mint and basil.
- 1/2 cup ground peanuts
- Eight medium lettuce leaves, washed and cooled
- Basil and mint appetizers
- sticky rice