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Siam Garden
1111 W. Webster Ave.
Winter Park, FL
(407) 599-7443
Cost: $$ 21 Thai
Best Item: Seafood Soup
26-Feb-03 1
Unlike most of the Thai restaurants in the Orlando area, Siam Garden looks as if it rarely gets any out-of-state tourists. This is a "down home" neighborhood restaurant that provides more authentic Thai dishes than the tourist places.

Walking into the building, the restaurant demonstrated the signs of a small family run operation. I received immediate attention, and the menu looked as if it covered most of the different types of dishes that would be found in Thai home cooking. The dining room lacked the spaciousness and ambiance found at some of Orlando's more popular restaurants, and while the lack of overhead probably means they do not have to charge inflated prices for the food, it could probably also mean having to compete for limited seating during the lunch and dinner rush (I went at a time when this was not the case).

My meal started out with an excellent Seafood Soup that contained several types of seafood in a lime flavored broth. Some of the seafood was a little different, such as octopus, but Florida seemed like an especially good place to try a seafood dish. Thailand's proximity to the ocean makes seafood a staple of the national diet, and Florida's warm climate makes the types of fresh seafood available very similar to those used in traditional Thai recipes. The soup did not disappoint, and the type of seafod served at Siam Garden has seemed to be the item that has been the hardest to find replicated in Thai restaurants throughout America's cooler climates.

The Tofu entrée I ordered was somewhat disappointing, lacking the spiciness and strong flavor that I normally associate with Thai food. I suspect that quite a bit of the food is spicier and tastes more like the Thai food I find in most restaurants, but I apparently did not order the right thing. I have read other reviews that state that you will get the "real" Thai food if you ask for it, but the default level here is mild.

There was nothing disappointing about the soup, though, and it is amazing how hard it has been to find anything like since my visit to Florida. I am not saying this is the best soup I have ever had in my life, but it was a very good experience with the type of food I would expect to find in Thailand.

Prices are cheap enough that you can try different dishes until you find your favorite. If you only have one meal to spend at Siam Garden, I am sure the owners will make a good recommendation as they did with the seafood soup (the tofu is probably not something I should have insisted on trying).

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