Saturday, 8 December 2012


As the weekend approached, it was decided to hit a Thai restaurant for the Saturday dinner. With many options now available for Thai cuisine in Chennai, we decided to try the newly opened ‘Grand Siam’ at RK Salai. Being a regular at another Thai stand-alone restaurant, we were pretty apprehensive about trying a new place but having sampled Chef Murali’s produce at his other restaurant ‘CHAO’, I thought the gamble could play out well. Indeed, it did excel our expectations.

Knowing it was a Saturday evening and restaurants in Chennai can get crowded, we arrived promptly at the time we had made our reservations. The front-house was very welcoming and the interiors were given an oriental touch with loads of wooden furniture’s and wood carvings. An enormous Buddha fountain statue welcomed us into the dining area. 
The menu card was promptly placed on the table and the opening page had a very interesting story about how Thai cuisine and Indian cuisine have so much in common and so on. It talked about the history and ancient kingdoms which were responsible for the similarities in both the cuisines. The menu was exhaustive and was intricately detailed in what the dish constituted. This I feel is very important in oriental restaurants mainly because most of the dishes are described by their original names which can get us really confusing on what the dish comprises of.

First to hit the table was “Mien Khem”. Though have had this several times at other Thai restaurants, never knew the reason behind why it was served first. Upon enquiry, I was told by Chef Murali that, it is the Thai tradition of welcoming guests for food. It consists of all 5 flavours that are used in Thai cuisine. This was followed by the family’s all-time favourite Thai soup, “Tom Yum” soup. As usual, they had ordered the “Tom Yum Goong”, where ‘Goong’ means ‘Prawn”. The soup was extremely authentic and had a perfect blend of spices. Most of the times I have had this at other places, it is either too peppery that my eyes turn watery or it is bland with no spiciness at all. But it was just perfect to my liking this time.
(Mein Khem)
(Tom Yum Goong)
Following the soup, our next order came in. Called “Pla Tod Samunp”, it was a Raw Pumpkin salad served with dry fish cakes. The salad was both juicy as well as crunchy while the fish cakes had a tinge of the fish smell on it. I personally am not a fan of the fish variety in sea food mainly because of the smell associated with it. Due to this, I had to ignore the fish cakes while the salad was sumptuous. 
(Pla Tod Samunp)
Once the soup and salads were served, we were then dished up with the starters of the evening. We once again went with an all-time favourite starter, the “Gai Hor Baiteay”. This is a very common delicacy in Thai cuisine and is most often served either in chicken or fish. This time around we had gone in for the chicken version. The chicken is first fried and is then wrapped in Pandan leaves, and cooked. The dish is served with the leaves still wrapped over the meat to ensure the complete flavouring is infused into the chicken. The chicken was juicy, moist and had almost no oil residual on it. The next starter was “Pu-Nim Tod Nam”, which was a first time order amongst the family. It was a dish that was suggested to us by the manager and decided to go for it. It was a Soft Shell Crab cooked in a Spicy Chilli Paste. Having heard of a soft shell crab for the first time, was anxious to know if it can be eaten directly with the shell. I was reassured that it can definitely be. Immediately after my first mouthful, my verdict was out. It was just too good to be described. Never knew soft shell crabs were such a delight to the taste buds. Though they tasted similar to chicken, you could still make out a distinctive taste as you bite in the shells. The spicy paste was indeed a bit spicy but added to the overall glory of the dish.
(Gai Hor Baiteay)
(Pu-Nim Tod Nam)
With the starters done, we decided to go light on the mains. We ordered the “Jungle Fried Rice”, which we knew needed no sides as the rice itself would be packed with loads of flavours. It was as expected, the rice was indeed full of flavours and really kept up our expectations. It wasn’t too chilly unlike the previous time I had it at another place. We were also served with a Stir Fry Vegetable, complimentary courtesy Chef Murali, which livened up the flavourings of the Jungle Fried Rice. 
(Jungle Fried Rice)
(Stir Fry Vegetables)
Next on the table was the dessert. When it comes to desserts, it is always a riot ordering them. I often end up finding many a desserts that I would like to taste but eventually have to settle at the best choice at that moment. This time it was the regular “Tub Tim Grob” and the new try at Grand Siam, the “Shankhaya Fakthong”. For those who are not familiar with “Tub Tim Grob”, it is a must try at any Thai restaurant. It is basically Water Chestnuts soaked in Coconut Milk and chilled. No one can stop with just one serving. The other dessert of the day, the ‘Shankhaya Fakthong’ was a pumpkin custard served with Coconut Ice cream atop it. The pumpkin custard was more like a rocky road. It had a mixed texture of both crunchiness and smoothness. Overall it made a great combination together with the Coconut Ice Cream which tasted really fresh. 
(Tub Tim Grob)
(Shankhaya Fakthong)
Having tasted at many other Thai restaurants in Chennai, I personally feel Grand Siam is a good competitor to most of them. With regards to their pricing, they seem to be a tad lower priced in comparison to the other restaurants in their league. The evening dinner bill for the two of us was around ₹ 2200/-.

Overall, if you feel jaded with the same Thai restaurant you have been visiting for a couple of years now, Grand Siam can be a good alternate and is a must visit at least once.

Grand Siam is located at RK Salai (Cathedral Road, under the Mylapore Flyover) and in Anna Nagar (Behind Yesses Super Market).

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