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Lil' Siam (CLOSED)

Restaurants Soho
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Lil’ Siam is the mini-me version of Cafe Siam, the dependable Thai restaurant on Lyndhurst Terrace that has been successfully churning out Pad Thai and green curry for a little over ten years. Lil’ Siam is essentially more of the same, and if you like Cafe Siam you’ll probably be an instant fan of this new addition.

The interior is warm with wooden, mirror-accented walls, slate floors and lighting so soft you could stuff a pillow with it. The staff are friendly and, in a tasteful dash of authenticity, are all actually from Thailand so the ‘sawadee ka’ you hear on walking through the door will flash you back to your last Thai vacation.

We went for dinner on a Thursday night and it was fully booked, so it’s worth calling in advance for a reservation. Ask for something by the window if you can as the tables further to the back can get a little claustrophobic.

To start, we ordered the Tod Ruam, a combination platter of starters that includes Thai prawn cakes, crispy spring rolls, pork satays and marinated chicken in pandanus leaf, which struck us as a good deal for $98. The chicken in pandanus leaf was the standout item; many try and fail with this dish but Lil’ Siam have it just about perfect, with moist chicken and a slew of flavours tucked inside the little green parcels. The prawn cakes were a little light on flavour but the home-made sweet chilli sauce made all the difference. The pork satay was char-grilled to perfection and the spring rolls were enjoyably crispy, almost to the point they didn’t need the obligatory sweet plum sauce.

Next came the Koo Moo Yang, a marinated, char-grilled pork with a toasted rice, shallot and tamarind dip that came in a surprisingly large portion for its $86 price. Often listed on menus as “Pork Neck”, the thin strips of meat are marinated before being char-grilled to a light golden brown. The tang of the shallot was immediately noticeable with the light sweet tamarind and savoury toasted rice rounding out the sauce nicely. The Som Tam, meanwhile, a crispy green papaya salad with crunchy roasted peanuts, a hint of Thai chilli, lime rind and dried prawn ($72), impressed with its presentation.

The Gaeng Phanang ($82), the first of the main courses, is a red curry that originates from the middle of Thailand and emanates coconut, kaffir lime, red chili and Thai sweet basil flavours in a well balanced meld with the strips of chicken breast.

The final dish of the evening was a Pad Thai ($78) – a dish I impulsively order at every Thai restaurant I go to. Even if everything else on the menu is inedible or inflammable, the Pad Thai is usually a solid choice. The Lil’ Siam Pad Thai was very light on the dried fish flavour, for which we were grateful, and the fusion of crunchy bean sprouts, rice noodles, egg, shallot, chili and the tang of fresh lime juice came together in well-appointed harmony.

Portion sizes on all the dishes were a little larger than most Thai restaurants, so be aware of this when ordering. And while the food quality was generally good, the relative lack of spice was a minor disappointment. Most Thai restaurants outside of Thailand tend to tone down the food so as not to kill us weaker-palatted-mortals, however in this case it was toned down a little too far. But with above-average service, a well thought-out menu and an attractive interior, this is solid Thai fare.

Ben Branch

G/F, 38 Elgin St, Soho, 2868 4445; Mon-Fri noon-3pm & 6pm-11pm, Sat & Sun noon-midnight. Meal for two: around $400.



Address: 38 Elgin Street
Hong Kong

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