The following restaurant review was published in the Dayton Daily News on Jan. 16, 2009.
SIAM PAD THAI: KETTERING SPOT OPENS WITH A BANG
BY MARK FISHER
KETTERING — It didn't take long for Pakawan "Fon" Christman to get just restless enough to want to get back into the restaurant business.
Christman helped introduce Thai cuisine to the Yummy Burger, a downtown Dayton diner, in 2004, then became co-owner of Ban Thai restaurant (now House of Thai) in the Beaver Valley Shopping Center in Beavercreek in 2005. After selling the restaurant last year, she found herself with plenty of energy but no restaurant customers to cook for.
Not for long. Christman has opened the Dayton area's newest Thai restaurant, in Kettering: Siam Pad Thai, in the Wilmington Pike location that once housed the China Chef carryout.
And in a few short weeks, Siam Pad Thai is well on its way to establishing itself as one of the finest Thai restaurants in the Miami Valley.
The restaurant is small, seating only about 30, and you might get a blast of cold air depending on where you sit. But the decor and the food will warm your soul. The restaurant offers an extensive sushi selection, though I focused on the Thai dishes over multiple visits. There is much to explore here, from noodle dishes to soups to stir-fries to curries, as well as a pair of excellent desserts.
From the appetizer list, the Soft Roll ($3.25) features two generous translucent rice rolls, each halved and stuffed with shrimp, tofu, lettuce and cilantro, served with a sweet tamarind sauce that only briefly hides its kick of spice.The Siam Pad Thai ($6.50 to $9.95 for lunch portion, $8.50 to $11.95 at dinner, depending on meat/seafood selection) may be the best version of pad thai in town. Christman has reined in slightly the overt sweetness her noodle preparations had at her previous two restaurants, and this dish benefits from it. A second identically priced noodle dish, Ladna, was less successful. The stirfried noodles with mushrooms, carrots, baby corn and broccoli are served in a thin brown gravy.
Soups are a strength. Both the appetizer-sized Chicken Coconut Soup ($2.95) and a hot-and-sour Tom Yum Soup ($2.50-$2.95) boast balanced, intense flavors. Even more complex and heady is the entree-sized Beef Noodle Soup, thin rice noodles and thinly sliced beef in a rich broth with onion, bean sprouts and celery, topped with scallions and cilantro, spiked with red-pepper flakes.
Christman's curries have always sparkled. The Panang Curry ($6.50-$9.95 at lunch, $8.50-$11.95 dinner) is a favorite, with its orange-red color and kaffir lime-spiked coconut milk bathing peas, carrots and green beans. The colorful Chicken Spicy Green Bean ($8.95) consists of mostly green beans and carrots, with a scattering of intensely flavored, shredded and sauteed chicken breast.
Dishes are served on a heat scale from zero to four, but be forewarned: The spice level runs a little hotter than you might expect. Two stars can bite, and three will light up all but the most devoted chile-heads. I've not tasted a four.
If you still feel a burn by the end of your meal, consider one of the fine desserts, starting with the Mango with Sweet Rice and Coconut Milk ($4.95), which comes with several slices of perfectly ripe mango and sweetened rice drizzled with chocolate sauce. Or try a delicately sweet and creamy Taro Thai Custard ($4.95), accented with whipped cream. Either dessert will erase the heat, and is generous enough to share.