Who wants to cook on a Monday? Not this girl. So this fact and my recently purchased CiSaves coupon led my husband and me to grab some dinner at Siam Terrace in downtown Urbana. We had only eaten there once before and thoroughly enjoyed our meals so I’ve been excited to try it again. I was pleased to have been able to try their chicken Pad Thai at The Krannert Center’s Opening Night Party a few months ago. Even my friend’s two year old son loved it!
Like most Thai restaurants, Siam Terrace has an extensive menu: soups, salads, Thai pastas and curries, stir fry, house specials, vegetarian specials, etc. The dining room is nothing overly fancy, but it is nice and open, clean and inviting with ample seating, and the staff is always prompt and friendly.
I think one of the best parts about any Thai/Asian restaurant are the appetizers: egg/spring rolls, pot stickers, dumplings, crab rangoon, oh my! We decided to get the most bang for our buck and went with the Four In One Sampler Platter ($9.99). You get two pieces of each, which is great for sharing, and it includes Dragon Shrimp, Crab Rangoon, Pot Stickers, and Thai Fish Cakes. It also came with four different dipping sauces. I dove in for the fried vegetable pot sticker first and was not disappointed. They were perfectly crisp with a flavorful, moist vegetable filling. We weren’t sure which sauces were what, but it was fun to mix and match and find the combinations we liked. The Crab Rangoon was my second favorite in our appetizer platter. In terms of sweet versus savory, Crab Rangoon can vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant. Siam Terrace's was the perfect balance of a creamy, savory filling with just a hint of sweetness. I was not a fan of the fish cakes, but my husband really liked them. I thought they were a little dry and the flavor was a bit off for me, though I’ve never been a fan of fish cakes anywhere I’ve tried them.
The Dragon Shrimp we saved for last. Another item you can get solely on its own from the appetizer menu, these were fun to try. Described as “marinated tiger shrimp wrapped in egg noodles and deep fried” I was actually surprised at how little flavor they had on their own. You definitely need to dip these in one of the sauces provided. I’ve never had anything like it, so it was entertaining to snack on some shrimp on a stick. It makes for great street food.
They also had a nice bottled beer list that included a few we hadn’t tried before, but sadly they were out of our first choices, the Phuket and Singha, so we both settled for Beerlao ($4) which was still a very solid lager. Brewed in Laos with local rice and blended with European hops and barley, it was a great combination of East meets West. It would pair well with just about anything on the menu.
Thai dishes are typically served all at the same time so be prepared for a full table. Our appetizers came out only briefly before our entrees and soup, but it was good fun to go back and forth between plates and change up the palate throughout the meal. For my entrée I opted for an item off the House Special section of the menu which I had heard many rave reviews: The Fire Cracker Chicken ($12.99). My dish came with a small bowl of miso soup and a side of jasmine rice. If one couldn’t deduce from the name of this particular item that it will be a bit spicy, it was also indicated with a little pepper symbol on the menu. For most all dishes on the menu you can control the amount of spice you wish to attempt by selecting from a scale of 1-8.
Our last trip there I believe the hubby asked for a 3 and was a little disappointed with the spice level. So this time he was sure he wanted the most he could get. Our waiter was very knowledgeable in suggesting the right amount of spice. He convinced him to just try the 5 and offered to bring chili sauce to the table just in case he felt he needed more. His entrée of choice was Pad Woon Sen Kee Mao with fried tofu ($10.99). He also asked that the clear noodles be substituted with flat stir fry noodles.
The Fire Cracker Chicken was so delightful, it’s now on my list of go-to items. Despite the name, it wasn’t too spicy at all. The crispy, yet tender, pieces of white meat were tossed with a stir fry of red onion, mushroom, bell pepper, green onion, dried chili and peanut that’s tossed in sweet chili paste. There was a perfect amount of sauce that was soaked up by the jasmine rice when combined and the vegetables were cooked perfectly with just the right amount of crunch. I love, love mushrooms in stir fries and all of the flavors and textures worked really well together in this dish. It definitely earns its title of a recommended house specialty.
The Pad Woon Sen Kee Mao was pretty good too, but I think the hubby was a little jealous of my choice. He was very happy with the spice level and didn’t need to dip in to the extra hot sauce on the table. For me it was a bit too spicy, but flavors of the veggies and sauce still came through beautifully. I tend to stick with a 3 or under in terms of spice level because I hate when the heat overpowers the flavors. The crunch and freshness of the veggies were spot on but I would have liked to have tried it with the clear noodles that were supposed to come with it. I found the larger stir fry noodles to be a little overcooked so the texture was a little soft and monotonous.
It was a really great meal and I can’t wait to try more items on the menu. I think the prices are really reasonable. I had hoped to try the sticky rice with mango dessert I’d heard so much about, but we were pleasantly stuffed and even had lots of leftovers for lunch the next day. Or in my case, two lunches! What’s your favorite Siam Terrace dish?
Siam Terrace is located at 212 W Main St, Urbana, and is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to10 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
All photos by Bobbie Bonebrake.