Plato Royale: Shrimp Pad Thai Takeout at Sushi Siam Vs. Siam Rice

Categories: Plato Royale
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Jackie Sayet
It's a takeout takedown: Sushi Siam (left), Siam Rice (right)
Even distribution of components. Balance of both sweet and savory, raw and cooked. The right color.  Perfect protein doneness.  Above all else, perfect noodle clump. 

You guessed it.  It's time to rate Asian noodles at their finest, and there's no finer example than the classic Pad Thai with shrimp. Excellence in the above criteria is essential for making this Asian noodle dish a winner. Done right, not much could be better. Done wrong... Well... You get the idea.

Recently the Miami Herald cooed the pleasures of this comforting dish but on a recent trip to MiMo's Siam Rice opted instead to sample from the nether regions of its abundant menu.  But what of the beloved Pad Thai, "as comforting -- if not more so -- as a bowl of pasta"?  It is time to bring the mission home: how will this newcomer on the Thai food scene compare side by side with veteran Miami chain, Sushi Siam?  

Siam Rice Special Pad Thai with Shrimp ($13.99, plus $2 for shrimp) - Sautéed rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, and ground peanut (chicken, beef or tofu also available)

Pros:  All the traditional components are present and accounted for, evenly distributed on top of the noodles. Check.  Pee wee size shrimp are not to be underestimated, smaller than what you'd want at first but sweeter as a result.  These squiggly bundles curl up from an exaggerated butterfly -- fun to eat and easy, too, since the kitchen takes care to leave the tail for grabbing while eliminating the tushy shell.

Cons:  The noodles are thicker than normal and slightly overcooked, causing premature breakage and unpleasant mouthfeel. The dark part of scallions are stringy, hard to chew. But the main complaint is that flavors don't pop; the sauce fails to coat the noodles enough to provide necessary body to offset the tang of lime.

In Case You Were Wondering: The best part about Siam Rice is that you'll find an encyclopedia of every rice noodle dish, both Thai and Japanese, that you love here.  It's also the worst part.  Perhaps we're partial to quality over quantity, because it's basically impossible to succeed at both.  The decor is a bit of a hodgepodge, but inviting nonetheless, like an old quilt.

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Jackie Sayet
Pefect hue, perfect clumping, at Sushi Siam
Sushi Siam Shrimp Pad Thai ($17.95) - Sautéed rice noodles with shrimp, egg, scallions, bean sprouts and ground peanuts           .

Pros:  This is take no prisoners Pad Thai from start to definite finish.  Thin and flat noodles clump into a sticky masterpiece, each strand a canvas for a coating of reduced fish sauce, tamarind and sugar.  Clinging ever so delicately, these noodles hold captive  generous pieces of scrambled egg, crumbled peanuts, and the refreshing, cool crunch of bean sprouts, curlicued red pepper strips and feathered scallions.  And let's face it: Anthony Bourdain had it right when he asked what could be bad when deep, amber red oil is involved?

Cons:  We don't understand why a dish that has noodles always means the protein will be overcooked, which is the sad shrimp situation here.  Why is this always the case in Asian noodle dishes?  Can someone pa-leeze learn how to cook proteins correctly?

In Case You Were Wondering: Like Siam Rice, Sushi Siam features a Thai and Japanese menu, but pulls off the hybrid with a little more finesse and flavor.   Decor is a notch above in most locations, especially its newest in South Miami done up in sleek dark wood and granite appointments. Here, however, it is a shame that the only thing that is full is the walk-in; the place is always empty, unlike its other branches across town.

The Verdict:  It's called Siam Rice, not Siam Noodle, for a reason.  We're sticking with old favorite Sushi Siam in this Pad Thai takeout takedown!

Siam Rice
(305) 758-0516
7941 Biscayne Blvd
Miami           

Sushi Siam
(additional locations include South Beach, North Bay Village, Key Biscayne, and coming soon to Brickell)
(305) 668-5683
1549 Sunset Dr
South Miami


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