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Excellent Thai Food Phoenix/Tempe

pstempe22 Apr 22, 2007 11:18 AM

One of our favorite places to eat (usually once per week) is the Siamese Cat at Price and Baseline.

We have many friends that have traveled to Thailand and say this is some of the most authentic and tasty Thai that they have found in the area.

This is a family owned and operated business. Often the owner is serving tables.

Mu Satay, Spring rolls, Lab gai (salad), and TOM KA GAI soup are our favorite appetizers. We typically order all of our dishes here "medium spicy". We both like spicy food, but anything more than medium takes away from the great flavors presented.

The Pad Thai (#43) is excellent, very flavorful and plenty served up for the price $7.75. We usually get it without the shrimp, mostly because we aren't fond of shrimp in general. Other highly recommended dishes are #100 - Curry Noodles, #106 - Stir Fried Eggplant, #28 - Yellow Curry Chicken, #29 - Red Curry Beef, #44 - Lard Na (wide noodles, brocolli, beef) [My personal favorite], #47 - Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken.

As far as beverages go, the Thai Iced Tea sweet with cream is not to be missed. The wine selection is minimal to non-existent, but we do partake in the half-carafe of Chablis occasionally. They offer a limited selection of thai and domestic beers.

For desert, the coconut ice cream is excellent, and the mango with sticky rice (in season only) is very refreshing.

See the full menu at : www.thesiamesecat.com


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  1. silverbear RE: pstempe22 Apr 22, 2007 09:55 PM

    I used to go to this place often. For some reason, it fell off my list, even though it was always quite good. Thanks for the reminder. I need to get back soon.

    1. jasonaz RE: pstempe22 Apr 23, 2007 09:01 PM

      The Siamese Cat is my favorite Thai restaurant in the East Valley. I was actually planning to do a review there this week.

      You're right about the homemade coconut ice cream, it really is excellent. Unfortunately, the mango with sticky rice has never been in season when I go. Maybe they'll have it this week. :)

      4 Replies
      1. re: jasonaz
        pstempe22 RE: jasonaz Apr 27, 2007 07:08 AM

        They had it this past weekend, so I think you are in luck! Get over there!

        1. re: pstempe22
          Doug in Mesa RE: pstempe22 Jun 2, 2007 06:12 AM

          We stopped by for lunch this week and shared an eggroll appetizer, Nam Sod (pork salad) and Tom Kha Gai soup. We had Thai tea which is available sweetened or unsweetened here. We both thought it was as good as the best that we've had in the east valley. Maybe after trying a few other menu items it will become our favorite too. It's well hidden in the rear corner of a non-descript strip mall which is on the northwest corner of Baseline and S. Price. Note: Sinbad's is no more. It was a middle-eastern restaurant that sat just off of Price by the same strip mall.

          1. re: Doug in Mesa
            azhotdish RE: Doug in Mesa Jul 23, 2007 06:32 PM

            So...is Sinbad really gone?


            I wouldn't be sad if it is, just question whether it truly is after seeing this today. I've been there a couple times with large groups and received terrible service and high prices.

            1. re: azhotdish
              Doug in Mesa RE: azhotdish Jul 23, 2007 09:10 PM

              We went once and didn't care for it enough to return. You're right though...It looks like they're open again. They even a website: www.sinbadaz.com The location looks like it's near the new train tracks.

      2. starlightjulian RE: pstempe22 Jun 26, 2007 10:54 AM

        I will have to try this location very soon! I usually have Thai at Lemongrass Thai Cafe (Broadway/Hardy) or Thai Hut (Alma School/Baseline); both great locations. I've eaten at Mint Thai Garden (??) once, and found the food good there as well. One of the owners of LTC used to run MTG with her sister.

        Always wanted to try Char's Thai on University, and finally went in last night. After a long wait, I was finally seated. The server could not make any suggestions as to what to try for an appetizer. She came back with water, and never returned in ten minutes I gave her, so I walked out. Should I try this place again? I've already tried twice, with the first failure caused by no host coming to greet and seat me.

        8 Replies
        1. re: starlightjulian
          silverbear RE: starlightjulian Jun 27, 2007 11:53 AM

          I eat at Char's occasionally. It's reasonably good but not so special as to warrant excessive effort. If they don't seem to want your business, you're not missing anything by eating elsewhere.

          1. re: silverbear
            silverbear RE: silverbear Jul 3, 2007 10:09 AM

            Replying to myself because I ate at Char's yesterday. I didn't have any service problems on this visit and the food was reasonably good, although not so special as to warrant a trip from across town just to eat there. It's a good lunch choice for me since my office is near Downtown Tempe and ASU.

            My question for the board: Every time I eat at Char's I am intrigued by the funky decor. There are some Thai touches in the form of portraits of the King and Queen of Thailand, as well as dolls with traditional Thai costumes. To make things really interesting, these Thai elements have been added over a layer of Old West kitsch: wagon wheels, bull horns, etc.

            Does anyone know what the Char's building once was? Char's has been in business for at least two decades (the length of my residency in Phoenix), but it looks like it might have been a country bar or roadhouse-style place before becoming a Thai restaurant.

            1. re: silverbear
              misohungrychewlow RE: silverbear Jul 3, 2007 10:18 AM

              Char's has been there since at least 1983, when I first moved to the area. I really don't know what it was before then. I think that was the first Thai restaurant to open in the valley, and the Indian place nearby was one of the first, if not the first, of its kind whenn it opened in that 83-84 time frame. At the time, Char's had another location in Mesa on Broadway at Country Club, right by the underpass, and it was considered to be significantly better than the Tempe store. IIRC, the Mesa Char's closed before the 80s were over.

              1. re: misohungrychewlow
                silverbear RE: misohungrychewlow Jul 3, 2007 10:28 AM

                Thanks. I remember Char's from when I moved to Phoenix in 1989 and have always considered that shopping center on the SE corner of Rural and University to have been a pioneer in introducing international cuisines to the Phoenix area in the '80s. I never made it to the Mesa Char's, although I do remember some disucssion of it.

              2. re: silverbear
                themis RE: silverbear Jul 3, 2007 10:20 AM

                I've been around Tempe since the early Greasy Tony days, and Char's has always looked like that. I had thought they decorated old-west style for the out-of-towners dropping off their kids for college. Generally, all people know of Arizona before they come here is the Grand Canyon, cacti, and cowboys. Kind of the way the Chuckbox and MinderBinders are supposed to look all home-on-the-range.

                1. re: themis
                  silverbear RE: themis Jul 3, 2007 10:30 AM

                  Agreed that the Char's decor has been unchanged for decade; I'm just wondering if the building was originally built for some other purpose. I can understand Old West kitsch for a hamburger place, but it seems weird for a Thai restaurant.

                2. re: silverbear
                  duckyintempe RE: silverbear Apr 11, 2008 03:33 PM

                  Just found this thread, and having been a customer of Char's since he started in the biz, I know what the Char's building once was: a place called Mag's Ham Bun. They served their signature ham sandwich and other less memorable items; I can also admit that the only reason I remember the Ham Bun was that it was part of the name. There were at least 2 locations of Mag's, and they were identical with that old west wagon-wheel decor. The other location was on Shea just west of Scottsdale Rd (which now houses Oregano's, I think). Better late than never...

                  1. re: duckyintempe
                    silverbear RE: duckyintempe Apr 11, 2008 11:50 PM

                    Thanks. That's a great bit of history.

            2. misohungrychewlow RE: pstempe22 Jul 3, 2007 10:32 AM

              By the way, I just realized how long it's been since I've been to the Siamese Cat, and it's not for a lack of quality. I lived in Tempe 83-99 and remember when SC opened in, I think, 1985, long before the freeway was there. It's remarkable how they have persevered in the face of many years of construction, a dying retail environment, and the complete transformation of the neighborhood. They must be serving good, food, eh?

              4 Replies
              1. re: misohungrychewlow
                anakalia RE: misohungrychewlow Jul 3, 2007 03:22 PM

                I'd just like to add my suggestion of Thai Hut, which someone mentioned above, in Mesa. It's at Baseline and Alma School. This place has undergone some sort of change in management/ownership in the past year or two and it's much better than it used to be. The menu has been expanded, too. I go about once a week for the $7.50 lunch special which includes a tiny cup of spicy cabbage soup, a veggie roll and a curry or noodle dish.
                I wasn't a huge fan of the pad thai, but the curries (specifically the green curry and the panang curry) are delicious and spicy. I get the tofu, but it comes with choices of meat, too.
                Seriously, I love this place. I think it's just as good, if not better, than Swaddee's.

                1. re: anakalia
                  misohungrychewlow RE: anakalia Jul 3, 2007 03:29 PM

                  Ahh, the rare but always treasured "uphill alert!"

                  1. re: anakalia
                    starlightjulian RE: anakalia Jul 8, 2007 12:32 AM

                    Thai Hut is one of the two Thai places I love to visit. The owners there are very amiable. Their lunch and dinner specials are fantastic values: the veggie soup is simple, yet hits the spot every time and the eggroll is also good. I love that they serve brown rice here. Almost every dish I've ordered tasted great-I didn't like one dish, but that's bec. I do not like flat, wide noodles.

                    The owners are quite proud that their restaurant will be featured in one of Phoenix's dining magazines! I'm so happy that the husband has finally oriented himself with Arizona living, and they're both so proud to finally get heralded with praises for the food that they serve... even though they did great business in CA, they never were publicly lauded for the food they served as they are here! Do check out Thai Hut! If you like silver bean noodles, do try their pad-woon-sen (with tofu or chicken)!

                  2. re: misohungrychewlow
                    pstempe22 RE: misohungrychewlow Jul 5, 2007 08:58 AM

                    You are right on the money. Siamese Cat is the best. The shopping center they are in is all but dead, but they continue strong. We go at least once a week and business seems quite steady. The food is excellent and the owner/operators are the nicest people around. I recommend that everyone give it a try.

                  3. johnseberg RE: pstempe22 Jul 8, 2007 07:46 AM

                    As long as this thread is currently active, I thought I'd mark all the "places" mentioned, and also mention Thai Basil and Yupha's as two other options in the Tempe area.

                    Siamese Cat Thai Restaurant
                    5034 S Price Rd, Tempe, AZ 85282

                    Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine
                    818 W Broadway Rd Ste 108, Tempe, AZ 85282

                    Char's Thai Restaurant
                    927 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

                    Thai Hut
                    1245 W Baseline Rd, Mesa, AZ 85202

                    Swaddee Thai Cuisine
                    5055 W Ray Rd Ste 8, Chandler, AZ 85226

                    Swaddee Thai Cuisine
                    8989 E Via Linda Ste 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

                    Yupha's Thai Kitchen
                    1020 W Elliot Rd, Tempe, AZ 85284

                    Thai Basil
                    403 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

                    Thai Basil
                    4221 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85048

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: johnseberg
                      ciaogal RE: johnseberg Jul 8, 2007 11:22 AM

                      Don't rule out Shanghai Palace in So Scottsdale......the Tom Yum and the curries are fabulous....

                      Shanghai Palace
                      7901 E Thomas Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      1. re: ciaogal
                        starlightjulian RE: ciaogal Oct 19, 2007 04:46 PM

                        LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the curries at Shanghai Palace... I've tried the spicy green curry and the salmon red curry, so far. Didn't like their spicy bean curd (ma po tofu) at all :(

                        Tottie mentioned that a sushi bar will be installed in a couple of months, which will also mark the re-introduction of brown rice at Shanghai Palace! Cannot wait to see the improvements!

                        1. re: starlightjulian
                          ccl1111 RE: starlightjulian Oct 19, 2007 10:53 PM

                          So is there an updated consensus on the top Thai in the valley? What would be your top 3? We haven't done much lately, except at home.

                          1. re: ccl1111
                            Seth Chadwick RE: ccl1111 Oct 20, 2007 10:48 AM

                            That's a tough call because people are so varied in what they like about Thai food, but from discussions I have seen here, I would say two of the top three would definitely be Chanpen and Osha.

                            Osha Thai Cafe
                            10953 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

                            Chanpen Thai
                            13828 N 51st Ave, Glendale, AZ 85306

                            1. re: ccl1111
                              themis RE: ccl1111 Oct 20, 2007 01:11 PM

                              My top three are Swaddee (Chandler location), Line Thai, and Chanpen.

                        2. re: johnseberg
                          tsays RE: johnseberg Jul 23, 2007 10:19 PM

                          We love Swaddee - great food, lovely service. I think the Tom Ka is awesome there (perfectly seasoned). I always go for one of the fish dishes, but I think the Spicy Pampano is my favorite.

                        3. starlightjulian RE: pstempe22 Jul 9, 2007 10:15 PM

                          Almost visited Siamese Cat tonight, but am disappointed they do not offer brown rice. Will those that visit establishment frequently request it for future customers? Thank you very much in advance!!

                          p.s. Yes, I will call them up and put in my vote, as well!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: starlightjulian
                            drewb123 RE: starlightjulian Feb 10, 2008 04:52 PM

                            If you were to choose a location for v-day which one?

                          2. s
                            sooogood RE: pstempe22 Feb 12, 2008 07:51 PM

                            Sorry I have to disagree about Siamese Cat. We went there recently and we couldn't finish any of the four mainstream dishes we ordered. We won't be going there again. Our search for a favorite Thai joint continues.

                            1. p
                              pstempe22 RE: pstempe22 Apr 11, 2009 09:52 AM

                              This place is still my favorite and is consistently good. Everyone I personally introduce it to is very impressed with the food quality. I think some people are put off by the fact that it is in an older strip mall and could use some upgrades to the decor. I for one will keep going for the friendly service and very reasonably priced great Thai food.

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