LOTUS OF SIAM – Hallucinogenically Good

With all due respect, those who diss the food at Lotus (with the exception of Jet Tila), don’t know what they’re talking about. And even Jet doesn’t put it down…he simply doesn’t find it as extraordinary as some of us do.

For the record, ELV and his staff have eaten here dozens of times over the years, are known to the management, and have endured service lapses like the rest of you. But we’ve always paid full boat for our meals (with an occasional glass of wine thrown in as a “thank you” by the management). We’ve also eaten in every other Thai restaurant in town, and don’t know where else you can find the variety and the freshness and the vivid flavors put forth by this kitchen on a daily basis. (Those who judge this place by its lunch buffet are missing the whole point of the restaurant.)

That “point” is the northern and Issan specialties (all in English on the menu), done to their full extent (but gringos should avoid asking for them “Bangkok hot”), and paired with the extraordinary rieslings that make the wine list the best German list in the country.

Concerning “Bangkok hot” (or “10” on a 1-10 scale), be forewarned: ELV (on a personal dare with himself) asked for the squid salad (pictured above) to be seasoned to an “8” and it took him six big glasses of ice water and two Thai iced teas before he could speak or breathe normally — after only three bites!

In his profile in the New Yorker last November, Jonathon Gold (the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has called LOS the best Thai restaurant in the country) said that such extreme degrees of heat in Thai food create an almost “hallucinogenic effect” that allow the vibrancy of other flavors to come bursting into your brain.

We at ELV don’t no nuthin’ ’bout know hallucinations — at least not since we dressed like this — but we can tell you that the rush is something to behold…but not something we’d recommend for anyone with a heart condition. When done right (like it was with our squid), the shock and awe of the heat blankets your mouth with chile while creating this massive spike of endorphins that let you appreciate the interplay of flavors and textures even as it threatens to overwhelm them.

Great Thai food takes this can’t stand the heat/must have another bite/attraction/avoidance principle(s) to a level other cuisines never approach. It is one of the great joys of eating Thai food, and it is a joy in Las Vegas to have a restaurant where they know how to play these pain/pleasure pipes with perfect pitch.


953 East Sahara Ave.

Las Vegas, NV 89104-3028



19 thoughts on “LOTUS OF SIAM – Hallucinogenically Good

  1. so sensitive ELV, soo sensitive!!!! LOS is ok but not anything amazing. anyways i ordered lunch from there about 15 minutes ago, ill be enjoying my grilled prawne with fresh chili and lime sauce and tod mon plur (fish cakes) within the hour just to make you feel better!!!

  2. Being often quite wonderful, but wildly inconsistent, just isn’t good enough. I would never say they didn’t feed me a delicious meal or two, but playing Russian roulette every time you walk through the doors just isn’t worth the hype. By no means was I suggesting some improprieties, but to paraphrase Charlie Trotter, you don’t necessarily treat your regular diners better, but you do treat them differently. For the record, I live 2 minutes away, and would love nothing more than for LOS to be the only place I’ll ever need for Thai, but fortunately they are not.

  3. Hear, hear. LOS is simply amazing. The green chili sauce is simply amazing; and #14 crispy rice appy is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

  4. Just ate there Saturday night, serving food through the entire expansion. Just waiting for the cellar to be stocked so I can sit at the bar and enjoy wine that is fantastic and reasonably priced.

  5. just as an update John, just finished our lunch from LOS, the food we got that was correct was very good, but half the order was completely wrong, an order of salt and pepper prawns came out as a togo box of raw shrimp with the sauce and garnish, as if the kitchen forgot to cook the order!!!! i kid you not!
    4 ppls lunch was 150 bucks
    and the sauce for the crisppy duck with chili lime sauce was mmmmm good and spicy!!, my lips still are tingly and numb!

  6. How do you spend $150 on take out from a place where two can be comfortably fed (sans wine) for $35? Methinks has a clue and his friends may fall into the glutton category. As far as an order being wrong, their service has always been the one gripe I have about the place and that definitely fits the bill in this case. The food, however, has always been nothing but superb.

  7. Agreed. My one less than top notch meal there was tainted more by the company I was with than the food. Service is hit and miss, but the food is rarely anything but top notch. It was an excellent place for Thanksgiving dinner just before closing up. I’ll look forward to seeing the updated digs.

  8. I don’t know – you said the same thing about Ping Pang Pong – and that place is terrible. According to you, I do not know what I am talking about and maybe I will not like LOS either.

  9. FDR-

    The only way you won’t like LOS is if you don’t like Thai food, period. The place is amazing! There’s a good reason why there’s a line outside so many nights. (All the above commenters are right that the service can occasionally be spotty, but the food never disappoints.)


    $150 for lunch for 4? Really? Was wine involved?

  10. The lunch buffet is underwhelming but dinner there was great. Folks went for dinner last week and loved it. Looking forward to goin next week. Also, Ping Pang Pong is v. good.

  11. As much as ELV is my homey whom I respect, I think all the guys pictured on the walls get a different meal than us average joes. I’ve never announced myself the half a dozen times I’ve been there and I’ve always left with the , “m’eh it’s was aite” feel. I respect the place for it’s success and longevity, but critics always make you feel like you are CRAZY for not loving it. Well, I still don’t love it.

    Jet Tila

  12. I am a fan of LOS and I am an endorphin addict too . I like my food so hot that when I take a sip of water it tastes like pop rocks have hit my tongue. If you like it spicy, also try Yunnan Garden on Schiff . The Chongquing spicy chicken or shrimp is awesome !

  13. #7 tod mon plur, #15 stuffed wings, #16 seafood soup, #52 charbroiled prawns, #99 poached salmon, #102 pork pad thai, #120 chili fried rice, garlic prawns and crispy duck with lime and chili
    corretion 5 ate all this!!!
    what can i say thats how we roll in our office!

  14. LOS can be average or amazing. Really depends on what you order. Order off menu, forget the lunch buffet. My favorites include – Sai Oua (Northern Style Sausage) pictured above, #14 app, sea bass with drunken noodle, grilled salmon panang, crispy duck with chili mint leaves and finish with the sticky rice, mango & coconut ice cream dessert.

  15. who wants to come over for dinner at my place; im serving ginger, chili, garlic, basil, lime, lemon grass and coconut milk with seafood for those who crave the thai palette. Im white from southern California… it will be better than LOS, and you will be like damn “this is better than LOS, how do you do it”. LOS is average at best, keep putting those calories on.

    Also, Ping pang pong; Coast Casinos excuse to cater to Asians. That place is cheap heat and serve. I wouldnt be surprised if the majority of their dim sum comes straight out the back of a Praml delivery van or one of the other major food distributors. Its food to fill your belly with standard flavors but has absolutely no love.

    No love, just MSG.

  16. such hostility, if those are bad then whats your recommendation for something good????

  17. when you get a minute…would you please label pictures 6 & 7…and what’s the name of that benign looking sauce in picture #8?…thanks john!

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