Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finding Authentic Thai Spicy at Siamone's Thai Pub

After being couped up all day in my house with only a little bit of my grandmother's Green Fluff to keep me company, unsurprisingly I was a little hungry when it came to dinner time. As odd as it may sound to hear, I actually didn't know what kind of cuisine I wanted for dinner. This happens more often that I care to admit and in most cases, the solution is usually to drive around the area in a vague attempt to find something that will fit the bill.

Remembering that earlier in the day I had been reading about chicken wings on the Internet, suddenly it hit me that chicken wings sounded like an excellent idea. As I was close to the intersection of Canton Road and Rt. 224, I remembered that there was a chicken wing place in a plaza by Springfield Lake right off of Rt. 224. Now fully embracing the tantalizing taste of wings and sauce in my head, I pulled into the Gala Commons parking lot. I had driven through the parking lot once in the past, just looking around for interesting places to eat. To be honest, other than the wing place, I hadn't discovered anything of note. This time around, however, it appeared that there was now a restaurant at the opposite end of the plaza. I decided to give the storefront another glance and discovered to my delight and surprise, what originally just looked like a bar was actually a pub. Even more surprising, it turned out to be a Thai pub. I'm sure you are thinking right now what originally popped into my head when I read the sign, too, gentle reader, "A what?"

Now more curious than ever, I parked the car, pulled out the camera and took this photo of the front of the corner restaurant, Siamone's:

Located at 2215 East Waterloo Road in Akron, Ohio, Siamone's can be reached at 330-733-5070. They are open for lunch and dinner on Monday through Friday and dinner only on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays.

I don't know that I've ever heard the terms "Thai" and "Pub" used in the same sentence before. Not sure what to expect, I entered through the front door to discover a small space that was segregated into two seating areas. To the right were a number of booths that could easily seat about thirty people. To the left was the bar space and was split up amongst several four-top tables and three two-tops. Of course, it wouldn't be a pub without a bar, and Siamone's doesn't disappoint in that category. Here was a shot of the bar area:

When my server came to my table, I asked what beers they had on tap. "None," she replied. I inquired if they had any Thai beers. "Just one, but I can't remember the name of it." Figuring it would be an interesting choice no matter what kind of beer it was, I went ahead and ordered it. It turns out that the one Thai beer they chose to carry was very appropriate for spicy food and specifically Thai flavors, Singha:

Singha is a lager style beer and had a very clean and crisp flavor. It reminded me of pairing Sapporo with sushi or TsingTao with Chinese food. Knowing that Siamone's only served one type of Thai beer (a lot of the customers sitting at the bar seemed to be drinking more Budweiser and Coors Lite than anything else), I was nervous to find out what the menu held. Because of the poor lighting conditions and the fact that the entire menu is available online at Siamone's website, I decided only to take a picture of the front of the menu:

When I opened the menu up, I was delighted to find a lack of the ubiquitous cream cheese poppers and mozzarella sticks and straining to find the one remotely Thai dish at the bottom of the third page. No way, not this menu. It was CHOCK full of dishes from Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia, with most dishes being represented by Thailand. After studying the menu carefully, the only real criticism I really had was that many of the appetizers were in the $6-$9 range and were clearly designed to be big enough to be shared amongst a table of multiple diners.

Regardless, I decided to start out with the Cambodian Fresh Spring Rolls:

The soft pliable rice paper was stuffed with a mixture of imitation crab, rice noodles, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, and a lot of mint. While the menu said that these rolls were to be served with a sweet peanut sauce, what came out was a spicy garlic vinegar sauce with chopped peanuts strewn throughout. I tried the spring roll by itself and felt that the mint was too strong of a flavor and overpowered the other ingredients. I also tasted the dipping sauce by itself and discovered that it was spicy, but also well balanced. When I tried the spring roll with the dipping sauce, the mint was now much more subdued and I actually found myself craving the combination of the two.

While studying the menu, I noticed that there were several dishes labeled with levels of heat ranging from "Mild" to "Hot." When I read the description of the Drunken Crew signature entree, however, I was intrigued enough to ask my server about it when she returned. Based on the description, if you order this item, it cannot be made anything other than spicy because of the use of Thai basil and fresh chili peppers. Having yet to come across a Thai restaurant that will make a dish hot enough for me on the first try, I again employed the "Thai Spicy" request as I ordered it. My server looked at me kind of funny and said, "Are you sure?" "Yes, please."

After about ten minutes or so, my Drunken Crew (with chicken, I might add) arrived at my table:

Drunken Crew is a combination of onions, garlic, red and green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, Thai chilies, galangal, Thai basil and the protein of your choice, all stir-fried in a wonderfully aromatic sauce containing whiskey, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Accompanying my entree was a dish of steamed white rice:

I often base how well-spiced my Thai dishes are by locating the exact moments I have to blow my nose. Like most people, spicy food tends to make my sinuses go crazy and once that happens, I can't even taste the food anymore. The majority of places that serve "Thai Spicy" don't even elicit a single response, even after the meal is complete. Siamone's, however, kicked my sinus's metaphorical butt. Twice. Not only did I have to relieve my sinuses about five minutes into the meal, but I had to do it again after I stopped eating as well. Finally I had found a place that spiced it the way the customer asked for it the very first time. I didn't have to play the spice code game that I have had to learn how to do at other restaurants.

Fortunately for me, the Singha beer did an excellent job at relieving the capsaicin-induced inferno that was consuming my mouth. The wonderfully aromatic Thai flavors really shined through brightly in the well-balanced brown sauce. The chicken and vegetables were cooked perfectly, fully-cooked, but not mushy (in the case of the vegetables) or tough (in the case of the chicken). Unfortunately, after my huge summer roll appetizer, I was actually only able to eat about half of my entree and rice.

After boxing up the rest of my meal and paying my check, I found out that Siamone's has only been open for about three and a half years. It also turns out that Siamone's aunt was the owner and cook of the Bangcock Gourmet restaurant that used to be in Akron and is now unfortunately closed. I mentioned that had I known this place existed, I would've eaten here many years ago instead of just now accidentally discovering it. The gentleman answering my questions kind of laughed and said that they were just now starting to consider placing advertisements in local papers and magazines. His last words to me before he was off clearing tables and greeting guests were, "We've been fortunate to have good word of mouth. So, tell all your friends about us."

A simpler request could not more easily be honored. I silently muttered under my breath, "Let me see what I can do."

I am considering myself fortunate because I managed to locate a wonderful Thai (and several other nationalities thrown in there, too) restaurant serving amazing cuisine at the spice level for which I actually asked. That it is local to me here in Akron is another big plus in their favor. I know that I intend to return very soon to try the Pho and some of the other curry dishes. For those not in the Akron area, the next time you decide to take a day trip to or through Akron, stop at Siamone's Thai Pub for your spicy Asian fix. And if you need a way to quickly cool your mouth off, you can always swing by the Strickland's Frozen Custard stand just around the corner for a sweet treat that can't be beat.

Siamones on Urbanspoon


Nancy Heller said...

Nice post about a great looking place! But don't forget Bangkok Thai on Mayfield - I ordered "Thai Spicy" only once there - my first meal there, which was with you! Took my sinuses off (but was absolutely delicious).

Tino said...

Oh, I didn't forget about Bangkok Thai. I'm just happy that I only have to drive 10 minutes instead of 1 hour in order to find great Thai food. If the Pho is as good as the Drunken Crew was, I'll be able to get my Vietnamese fix whenever I need it, too.

Mahala said...

The listing at the bottom of your current blog post pointed me to this post. And am I glad it did. Thai
Gourmet was one of my all time favorite Thai restaurants in NE Ohio. Its closing was truly a sad thing for my family. The food was excellent and so impeccably fresh. If their cook is at Siamone's, I am so there! And soon!

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