Whether you’ve been in Wilton Manors for 20 minutes or 20 years, you’ve seen Siam Cuisine.
Siam has been planted on Wilton Drive since 1980 – the first Thai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. You can wander around greater Fort Lauderdale all you want, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic Thai restaurant than the legendary Siam Cuisine.
Regulars come in constantly. They order take-out, where Tony, the owner, inquires about other family members not with the delegated pick-up person. Or they sit at a table – each one with a single pink rose atop – deciding between the night’s specials. The waiter touts the seafood pumpkin curry (we’ll get to that later). They order wine, as they do on all of their visits. They hug Tony, welcoming him to the conversation.
It’s hard to walk into a Thai restaurant and not order the traditional pad Thai. That’d be like going to a baseball game and not getting a hot dog. But if you walk in to Siam Cuisine, it’s fine to get the pad Thai. But you’ll pinch yourself later for not trying anything else.
For drinks, try the sake, even if it’s your first time. Variations come in hot or cold – Nigori being one of the best among the chilled options ($15). Even an organic option is available.
Start with the chicken and shrimp dumplings ($6.95), topped with sliced green onions and served with soy sauce. Or grab the shrimp wontons ($6.95) served with a semi-spicy chili sauce, topped with peanuts. If the sauce isn’t spicy enough (or maybe too much), be sure to tell your server, as they can adjust the level of hotness to your liking.
If you’re looking for just a main course, yes, the pad Thai is delicious. Get the shrimp and chicken ($17.95) since it’s the most popular. If you’re going out for pad Thai, Siam Cuisine will be your best option for it. But if you’re going out for all sorts of Thai cuisine, definitely consider branching out.
For the next few months, Siam is featuring a seafood pumpkin curry. With a mixture of shrimp, zucchini, red pepper, and restaurant-grown basil, chunks of pumpkin are pureed into the coconut milk curry mixture. It’s not overpowering; it actually gives it a subtle sweetness to an otherwise fairly spicy dish. Spoon it over rice. It’s insanely good.
Ask about the whole red snapper since you won’t find it on the menu. It’s a filleted snapper broken into chunks, breaded and deep-fried, then tossed in a spicy tamarind chili sauce and placed back on the snapper bones. Don’t be alarmed at the fish head; it’s merely for presentation. Scoop the snapper chunks on to rice, add some of the red and green peppers and chili sauce, and dig in. If you can handle the heat, chances are you can finish the meal.
But you may want to take home some leftovers, just so you can make room for the Thai doughnut. Any preconceived notions you had about Thai doughnuts end when you eat this one from Siam Cuisine. Only because it’s nothing like a Thai doughnut.
For one, it resembles more of an American doughnut, not a large doughnut hole. It’s lightly fried and topped with honey, powdered sugar and sesame seeds. If you’ve made it this far, request chocolate syrup in place of the honey. No one will judge finger licking. It’s practically encouraged. At this point, you will never look at fried dough the same way ever again.
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting the drive for the afternoon or you’re practically a resident. If you haven’t been to Siam Cuisine, you are missing out on truly authentic (and legendary) Thai food.
If You Go
2010 Wilton Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
Open for lunch Monday-Friday, 11:30-2:30 p.m.
Open for dinner Sunday and Monday, 5-10 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5-11 p.m.