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Las Vegas Thai - is it really all that?

Hi, Las Vegas hounds: I'll be there for about 24 hours next month, so I have one dinner opportunity. I get plenty of fancy food here at home and elsewhere, so I can skip the high-end places in which LV seems to excel. My research has turned up some reportedly great Thai restaurants, however, and I love really great Thai food. Cheda Thai and Lotus of Siam in particular get lots of love from critics. Two questions for you all: (1) Are they really all that? (2) Of the two, which would you choose? Thanks in advance and I promise to report back!

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    1. Unless you're from Los Angeles, Vegas has impressive Thai food. You can't go wrong with Lotus of Siam.

      1. Also heard that Weera Thai is good, and my friends love LeThai on Fremont Street.

        1. Wow. I'm in! Thanks, everybody. Will post back.

          1. 1. Yes!

            2. I'd go to Lotus for its encyclopedic menu, its outstanding chef, and northern Thai specials that are hard to find. I've never found any restaurant, anywhere, that serves so many outstanding dishes.

            I'd choose Chada if I wanted to go to a quieter, less bustling place, or if I wanted to focus on beverages and just snack, or if you wanted to try some Southern Thai specialties that aren't available at Lotus.

            This is in no way to denigrate Chada. I love it, in fact. Along with Lotus and Raku, it is one of my favorite places to eat in LV.

            4 Replies
              1. re: DC in DC

                I'm a happy camper because I'm going to be eating Saipin's food tonight. In NYC! She's participating in the Lucky Rice festival and is serving two sold-out dinners. It's kind of a greatest hits collection -- no new or off-Lotus menu dishes -- I've had each dish more than 20 times. But I don't care.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  I was going to go to that but I wasn't sure about large crowd, quality not to mention the $88 pp price tag. You must report back!

                  1. re: LVI

                    The dinner was held in a gorgeous brownstone/mansion on Hudson Street. I don't usually like these kind of events and wouldn't have gone if Saipin wasn't cooking.

                    The food was terrific but not as good as it is at the restaurant and with the exception of the Northern larb, would rate about a 2 or 3 in spiciness. For some reason, the papaya salad was in fact a green mango salad, which might have been my favorite course of the evening. Dinner was served with four different champagnes and a rose.

                    There were "only" about 40 people there, served on two different floors, way fewer covers than Saipin serves every night, but there were still some temperature control issues endemic to any kind of banquet that would never happen at the restaurant.

              1. I recently returned from Vegas and I have one thought, which I would like others to chime in on, that may be helpful for you DC. And that is, in all of my years going to Lotus of Siam from the original space to the newer expanded dining room, I think I may prefer lunch over dinner now. The menu (minus the buffet which you should avoid) is the exact same but with the masses of people that they seat at dinner (especially Thurs-Sat) I am getting the impression that lunch time may not be as rushed and the kitchen subsequently is not as rushed. In my most recent visits (2 different times on two separate weeks) I had a dinner on a Saturday night and a lunch on a Friday. While both were excellent lunch on Friday was MUCH less rushed (we had a 12:30 reservation) and the preparations seemed to be much more polished. The Saturday dinner was excellent, don't get me wrong, but Friday was much more enjoyable, nowhere near the madhouse the Saturday night was.

                So that was a very long winded way of saying, why not hit up Lotus for lunch which leaves you with the opportunity to hit something later in the evening?

                3 Replies
                1. re: LVI

                  I think there's much merit in your theory.

                  I have talked to Bill Chutima several times about the lunch buffet. I think it's fair to say that it has been kept primarily as a service to locals who supported the restaurant for many years with their lunch patronage. I think it's fair to say that when I first started going to Lotus, a few months after the Chutimas took over, at least 80% of their business was the lunch buffet. I had many dinners where there were only a couple of tables occupied.

                  I think everyone at Lotus, both in front of the house and in the kitchen, is happier when folks order off the menu at lunch, and not just because of the bigger tips/average checks go north -- they have pride in what they serve, and prefer serving authentic Thai food.

                  I've never felt rushed at LOS, even when they have been very crowded, but it can be hectic, and I agree that lunch is much more relaxed and the quality tends to be very high.

                  About the only negative I can see is that sometimes some of the specials offered at dinner aren't mentioned by the waiters at lunch. I'm not sure if that's because they aren't ready yet or whether the servers forget to mention them. It can never hurt to ask.

                  1. re: LVI

                    Thanks much, LVI. Unfortunately, I arrive late afternoon and depart mid-morning the next day. So I have either one dinner slot or, hmm, I guess I could consider a Thai crawl, with one small dish per place. (And now Le Thai's in the mix, so that makes three at least...)

                    1. re: DC in DC

                      Oh how do I love food crawls...here is my suggestion, if you want it that is. Start at Raku (not Thai but some outstanding dishes to get you started. Up to China Mama (again not Thai but their Szechuan Dumplings, beef roll, soup dumplings...I could go on) the walk across the parking lot and end up at Chada Thai. That is about the most perfect evening!

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      Thanks again, everyone. I extended my stay to two nights and hit both Le Thai and Lotus of Siam. Reviewed both on a separate thread. Many thanks for the encouragement and good advice!

                      1. re: DC in DC

                        Thanks for reporting back.
                        Pad Thai at LOS is my fave, super spicy with extra peanut sauce..
                        Jonesing big time.