Siam Orchid offers Kentucky a little Thai diversity

Susan Neltner

The light from the medieval chandeliers dimly lights a room full of black tables, some exposed to the faint light while others are hidden beneath patterned fabrics. The wooden paneled walls soak up the conversation of tables around bringing to a person’s ear a soothing rhythmic buzz.

Even though the lighting and the walls of the Siam Orchid, located on Route 27 about 10 miles from Northern Kentucky University, try to deceive customers as to where they are eating, a wider look shows the spirit of this restaurant. The heart and soul of this place is Thailand.

At least that is the message owners Wera and Noe Vongbumru have wanted their customers to walk away with from the restaurant which has been open for a little over two years.

The first things a person sees as they walk in the door are tourist pamphlets describing the culture, and beauty of Thailand. Next there is a glass case displaying various trinkets made from Thailand that a person can buy if they are interested. As a person is lead into the dining area, and it is not the chandeliers and walls that catch the customer’s eye. Instead posters depicting the country of Thailand, the Thai-patterned fabric covering the tables, and little statues are what catch the customers eye.

The menu is extensive. Thai food is similar but different from Chinese. Thai food is accentuated by herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, Thai chili pepper, sweet basil, Thai basil to name a few.

With this thought in mind we started our meal with two appetizers spring rolls, and crab puffs. The spring rolls (three for $3) are stuffed with chicken, vegetables and noodles. They are skinnier than egg rolls, but in my opinion they are 10 times more appealing to the palate, especially with the homemade sweet and sour sauce dousing them with exquisite flavor.

If the spring rolls were good the crab puffs (five for $3.95) where amazing. Sprinkle just a little of the strawberry sauce over the flower-shaped pastry and you will understand why my mouth still remembers the taste.

With the extensive menu it was hard to determine what I wanted to eat. I decided on the chicken red curry while my friends ordered chicken thai spicy, general tso’s chicken, and chicken mix vegetables. All were priced at $8.95.

The curry was excellent. It was not too thick or too hot. It was perfect. My friends’ meals ranked on the same scale as my dinner, trust me I sampled each one. The General Tso’s Chicken was better than any I had ever tasted before, and the fresh mushrooms in the chicken mix vegetables and chicken thai spicy became victims of a viscous battle that ensued after my friends realized I had stolen all of the mushrooms.

Each dinner was made with fresh vegetables, and homemade herbs-the Vongbumru’s have a garden outside the restaurant- and served with steaming rice. It was amazing. We live in a world with so much processed food that when our mouths finally come in contact with something so fresh and homemade are senses are shocked into the reality of what real food tastes like, leaving us begging for more.

However, by the end of the meal I could not beg for anymore. By the time I had finished eating the majority of everyone’s food – the rest was saved for my midnight snack – my stomach was so satisfied that I almost fell asleep driving home.

Even though I was full I somehow found room for the fortune cookie that came along with our check. My fortune said simply, “You will find great happiness.” And I did with the perfect ending to one of the best meals.