Tha Siam

Tha Siam is a popular chain restaurant that serves kwaytiao ruea, "boat noodles". This is a noodle dish that originated in central Thailand and which can be identified by its hearty brown/red broth, the result of copious spices and blood.

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The importance of this last ingredient is made very clear on the menu:

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where just below the evil pig logo it reads something like, "true Thai blood".

Ironically, I don't think I've ever eaten noodles here; I'm not a big fan of blood broth and actually the other menu items are all quite good. In particular, they have a short but great menu of isaan or NE Thai dishes. I ordered som tam laao, Lao-style papaya salad:

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They do this dish just the way it should be done; with wide, irregular hand-cut chunks of crunchy unripe papaya, salted field crabs, plaa raa (unfiltered, unpasteurized fish sauce) and ma kok (a sour fruit). It's extremely sour and satisfyingly salty, with none of the sweetness you'll find in Thai-style papaya salad.

Everything was jolly until I received my khao phat naem, fried rice with naem, a kind of fermented pork sausage:

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This was among the worst dishes I've ever been served in a Thai restaurant. It looked like it had been sloppily slapped together by the dishwasher and featured a barely-chopped clove of garlic, pinky-sized chunks of naem and an astonishing amount of oil. In his/her haste to prepare the crappiest fried rice dish ever, the dishwater also forgot the obligatory sliced lime and dish of sliced chilies in fish sauce.

I guess that's what I get for ordering fried rice in a noodle restaurant.

We ate at Central Lad Phrao, but there are branches at Fashion Island and Siam Square, among others.