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Tasty Thai

House of Siam
Christopher Gardner

Curried Cuisine: The yellow-curried vegetable dish is just one of many fine vegetarian treasures found at House of Siam.

The subtle and intriguing flavors of the Golden Kingdom shine at downtown San Jose's House of Siam

By Judi Blackwell

THE IDEAL THAI meal aims at being a harmonious blend of the spicy, the sweet and the sour, and is meant to be satisfying to the eye, nose and palate. Proving worthy of these distinctive qualities, downtown San Jose's House of Siam offers the gamut of traditional carnivorous Thai treasures--poultry, beef and seafood--but the restaurant also caters to the herbivore, offering more than a dozen options for both the veggie- and health-minded.

Curries, soups, noodles and rice dishes fill out the vegetarian side of the menu at this quaint ethnic eatery, which has established itself as a favorite lunch spot for downtown diners. The soups, loaded with vegetables, easily fill in as a light meal or are suitable as a pricey but hearty appetizer. The tom ka pak ($6.95), a delightful hot and sour soup, creamy with coconut milk and fragrant with the elusive gingery flavor of galanga, boasts a surplus of assorted vegetables flavored with lemon grass, cilantro, lime juice, chili paste and bay leaves.

As far as entrées go, the yellow-curry vegetable dish ($6.95) stands out as one of the most flavorful options. Swelling with plush tofu, fresh pea pods, baby corn, bamboo shoots, emerald-green broccoli and bite-size morsels of carrots and potatoes, the entrée arrives bathed in sweet coconut milk and yellow curry. Fresh bamboo shoots are a seasonal vegetable in Thailand and have a sweetness and texture that provides a firm contrast to the more tender vegetables.

Despite its superficial similarity to the dishes of India, Malayasia and Indonesia, Thai cuisine distinguishes itself with an exotic blend of hot and sweet, sour and salty, which is no more apparent than in the vegetarian pad Thai--a colorful offering of pan-fried noodles with assorted vegetables, bean cake, egg and bean sprouts topped with ground peanuts ($6.25).

The tofu kraprow, sautéed with onions, bell peppers, garlic, fresh chili and sweet basil leaves ($6.25), and the pad kee maw eggplant, sautéed with bell peppers, garlic, bean sauce and sweet basil leaves ($6.25) are also worthy of mention and a trip to House of Siam to explore the culinary treasures of the Golden Kingdom.

House of Siam is located at 55 S. Market St., San Jose; 408/279-5668. Lunch Monday­Friday, 11am­3pm; dinner Monday­Friday, 5­10pm; Saturday, noon­10pm; Sunday 4­10pm.

Send tips to Vegging Out at 550 S. First St., San Jose, 95113, or email.

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From the Dec. 26, 1996 to Jan. 1, 1997 issue of Metro

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