Some specific LOS questions
It looks like I am finally going to get to Lotus of Siam on my trip in a few weeks.
My friend wants to try it, and she has never had Thai food.
I've enjoyed reviewing the threads with suggested dishes, but I have a few specific questions.
If we go at lunch - what IS on the buffet? What types of dishes? I am wondering if it would be a way for my friend to try a wider variety of Thai dishes. No matter what, I am ordering the sour sausage crispy rice app and the tamarind beef!
Are dishes served family style - like you would find in a Chinese restaurant - or will we be eating off of each other's plates if we share? I'm thinking of rounding up another friend or two so we can try more dishes, but some of them may not like the idea of sampling "their" dishes.
Finally - I know this is so subjective, but can someone offer a guideline of the 1 to 9 scale of heat? It seems as time goes on I have less of a tolerance for spicy. I used to like jarred "hot" salsa, now I go for medium.
Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104
If you go at lunch, stay off the buffet. The dishes on it are pedestrian (very little if any of the Northern Thai that LOS is renowned for), and spice levels are toned down.
I've always eaten family style there. I would imagine this is par for the course, but even if it isn't you could always ask for extra plates and eat family style.
For heat... When I go there, I say in Thai that I want it spicy ("pet pet", the e sound between "pet" and "putt"). It comes out at a 7, and it comes out very nicely spicy, a measure hotter than jarred hot salsa. I think the 3 to 5 range should be about right for you, depending on how adventurous you're feeling that day.
JK Grence has it right. Even for the neophyte to Thai cuisine, I think it would be a mistake to start with the buffet. But to answer your question, much of the buffet is comprised of Chinese-ish fare that Thais would often eat but are not really Thai (e.g., fried rice, spring rolls). There are three items in the buffet that are worthy of some note: the soup is always one of the simple ones, but it's fine; every day there is a rotating curry, again a simple one, usually but not always with chicken; and the only dish that I'm enthusiastic about, a fried chicken wing full of fried garlic, onions, and mint. If you see a tray of it coming out fresh, and you order off the regular menu, if you beg or have a tear running down your face, they will let you likely steal a wing or two.
Yes, dishes are served family style. You'll be given a small plate that will be yours for the duration of the meal unless you ask for a fresh plate. And I think it's a great idea to round up some more friends. Maybe I'd go for a 4 or so in spicing, but if your friend is worried, I'd go with a 2 or 3. You can always spice it up with the condiment trays.