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Uptown in the News  

June 18, 2003
Chicago Tribune
Siam Café
By Judy Hevrdejs

First Impressions
For two dozen years, Siam Café has kept Chicagoans happy with its brand of Thai food. But the neighborhood is changing: These days, an under-construction condominium sits to the south; a parking lot and the Uptown Recycling Center is north. The tired exterior and the assorted décor inside (red-checked tablecloths, folk art, a TV, a tank of goldfish) don't put off those who come for the straightforward fare.

On the plate
Siam Café has all the usual dishes customers have come to expect: decent portions of satay and spring rolls, papaya salad and a hot-sour chicken soup (tom ka kai), plus a wide range of noodle dishes, rice dishes and entrees, including red and green curries as well as hoi tod (batter-dipped mussels with bean sprouts). No desserts are on the menu, but sweet and creamy Thai coffee fills the bill.

At your service
The wait staff is easygoing and happy to rectify problems (wrong drink orders, for example). The young woman who took our order cautioned us about the firepower of certain dishes and steered us clear of the too-small red snapper. Dishes arrive in no particular order, but rather as they are finished in the kitchen. That ensures they arrive hot.

Second helpings
Hot and spicy shrimp soup is fragrant with lemon grass and loaded with straw mushrooms and plump shrimp. Other good bets: Cuttlefish salad and beef salad (yam nam tok), which one taster found way too hot but was perfectly fine to another. The Penang, a red curry with coconut milk and lime leaves, is another keeper, particularly the chicken version we ordered.

Take a pass
Kra tiem pik Thai—essentially chicken, beef or pork with garlic, soy sauce and (four slices of) cucumber—is boring. The lard nar, a mix of thick rice noodles with Chinese broccoli (the dish's only plus) and a choice of chicken, beef or pork in lots of gravy, also doesn't ring any culinary bells.

Thirst quenchers
Thai and domestic beer is available, as are carafes of wine, wine coolers, soft drinks, teas and coffees. There is a $5 corkage fee for those who bring their own wine.

Price range
Appetizers, $2.50-$6.95; soups and salads, $3-$7.50; noodle and rice dishes, $5.50-$7.95; main courses, $4.50-$11.50; drinks, 75 cents-$14.75 (for a full carafe of wine).

4712 N. Sheridan Road
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Wed.-Mon.; closed Tues.

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