Thursday, 2 August 2012

Na Siam

he says:

Writing these posts used to be such a simple exercise but somehow it seems to have gotten harder lately. I think it's because you start to take it a lot more seriously with each post requiring detailed research, artistic high resolution photos and of course a few witty analogies to wrap it all together. All these factors combine to result in procrastination and inaction. I started writing this blog to share my enjoyment of Melbourne's lesser known South East Asian eateries yet these days I find I'm posting about these simple experiences much less often. After I bit of thought I've decided that I need to start taking it all a loss let seriously and get back to basics. In that vein I bring you a simple write up about a new (for me anyway) Thai eatery on King Street called Na Siam.

I noticed Na Siam the other night as I drove along King Street and as it is close to where I work I made a note to myself to get there for lunch the next day. Na Siam is a very simple establishment, one of those places with an open kitchen, a bain marie (that only holds fresh vegetables), a drinks fridge and a few tables and chairs. There a couple of these kinds of Thai eatery, Melbourne Thai Cafe on Victoria Street North Melbourne is another favourite of mine. I like to think of them as the Melbourne version of Thai Street Food, well it's about as close as we get anyway.

The Na Siam menu is quite simple with about 10 offerings, of course the usual traffic light curries are offered and Pad Thai, Tom Yum plus a few other favourites like Green Curry Fried Rice. They obviously cater for a more western market but that isn't a bad thing. What is a good thing is the pricing with all meals around the $9 mark. I have often wondered why Thai food is more commonly priced at the $12 bracket just breaking through the supercheap eat barrier of $10. The Vietnamese restaurants seem to be able to keep most dishes under this threshold and many of the Indonesian student haunts are even lower with a decent meal available for as little as $7. It's not a big difference but sometimes it's a bit of a psychological barrier, especially when you're like me and often like to indulge in multiple dishes...

Anyway back to Na Siam, I was about to order the Green Curry Fried Rice as I never get this and it seems like a pretty good combination when you think about it. I then noticed Tom Yum Noodle Soup and started having thoughts of one of my holy grails of Bangkok Street Food, Gobu Rot Sing's Egg Noodles in Tom Yum Soup. I have drooled over this picture many many times in my Bangkok's Top 50 Street Food Stalls but for whatever reason I have neven managed to get there. I knew it was a bit of a long shot that Na Siam was going to produce something that compared to Gobu's specialty but it was worth a shot. The chef kindly obliged my request to add a soft poached egg to the broth and I asked for a spoonful of Nam Prik Pao Thai Chilli Jam to spice up the broth a bit. I also had to settle for rice noodles instead of bamee egg noodles but overall the dish was wonderfully soothing and warming on a cold winter day with all the usual notes of chilli, lemongrass and galangal.

When I was enjoying my Tom Yum I noticed that most of the patrons were ordering Pad Thai and I have to say it looked excellent and certainly very generous for the bargain price of $9. I cheekily asked to snap this photo of someone else's meal and the very friendly staff kindly obliged. While I wasn't overwhelmed by my Tom Yum Noodle Soup, it was certainly very nice and I will definitely be returning to Na Siam give a few of their other meals a try, including the delicious looking Pad Thai.

Na Siam on Urbanspoon


  1. Hey krapow, I wanted to mention a Thai eatery called Mamanee Thai in Collingwood that you might want to check out: it seems to cater to many local Thais and all the specials on the blackboard are noted in Thai script only! We asked the waiter to suggest dishes off the special Thai menu for us: we ended up with an interesting omelette with greens served in a hot-sour broth, a special som tam with some kind of sour fermented crab (an Isaan specialty perhaps?), and a catfish in dry yellow curry dish. The food was good but not brilliant (the sour element seemed to be a bit overly strong), but that may have been been because we ordered poorly or just unaccustomed to those particular dishes. Anyway, worth checking out, big fan of your blog, cheers! H.

  2. Thankyou H, I have heard of Mamamee but never visited. I find the Thai script specials always a bit of a challenge but usually I take a photo and ask one of my Thai friends for a translation. It usually elicits a bit of a surprise reaction when I return and ask for the meal while pointing to the Thai script. Yes that Som Tam with fermented crab is a bit confronting, I've only tried it once at Pad Thai in Midtown and was crunching away quite uncomfortably on the little crabs. I found out later that you are just meant to suck on them for a salty, sour crabby hit! Lesson learnt the hard way! Som Tam is an Isaan dish from Northern Thailand and their flavours are particularly strong, a lot of Thai don't like the strong Isaan flavours. Thanks again for the recommendation and thanks for reading, I will try and get over there soon to check it out.

  3. Hey Andy: a quick request for advice (that is unrelated to above post, sorry). Out of the several high-end Thai and Vietnamese influenced restaurants in town, particularly Coda, Longrain, (and perhaps Cookie, Easy Tiger, or any others) - would you recommend any of these strongly? Thanks mate!

  4. Of all these restaurants I would recommend Longrain. I haven't eaten at Easy Tiger or Chin Chin (yet) and I really like Adam D'Sylva's (Coda) cooking but I believe Longrain is the most authentic. One of the senior Longrain chefs (and friend of mine) Arte TaKour has an excellent YouTube show. It's in Thai but definitely worth checking out. His cooking is amazing.

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