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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Traditional Thai Dishes Prepared With '90s Flair

August 27, 1992|GLORI FICKLING

The varied and complex tastes of Thailand, with their enticing herbs, spices and healthful virtues, continue to inspire some of the most popular ethnic restaurants in the Southland.

Thus, when Siam Thai Cuisine quietly opened its doors in Dana Point several months ago, it was no surprise to see the place take off. Now that word has spread about the terrific food, extensive menu, friendly service and reasonable prices, it appears this is one place that may finally make it in a location where there have been a bunch of losers.

The colorfully tropical setting designed by Michael and Toni Leech for their short-lived Lagoon, the building's former tenant, has been kept intact, and a few well-chosen pieces of Siamese art have been added.

At Siam Thai, gracious owner Roung Chun (known as Jib) warmly greets guests. He has re-created many of the recipes of his homeland, training his chefs to prepare them with some '90s sensibilities--including a preoccupation with fresh ingredients and no-cholesterol corn oil.

You're likely to be struck by the artistic presentations (pretty vegetable carvings embellish appetizers and entrees) and the heady aromas of curry, cilantro, lemon grass, garlic, coconut milk and onion. Portions are generous here. Soups are served in individual white china tureens; appetizers and entrees arrive on oversize gold-rimmed platters.

Notable among the entrees is the garlicky, spicy Ka Ting steak, tender juicy sirloin slices lavished with fat mushrooms, bell pepper, onions, scallions, tomatoes and crisp sprigs of basil, cilantro and parsley. Or try the rice noodles laced with shrimp, beef or chicken in a torrid seasoning of chili and mint. Entrees are $4.50 to $9.95, a mere $2 additional for a bountiful toss of spicy sauteed shellfish served as a side dish.

Appetizers start at $2.25 for items such as coconut milk and hot/sour soups, going to $6.50 for a combination for two highlighted with giant shrimp in crisp, winged "submarine" wrappings. Lunchtime bargains start with 10 combination offerings at $4.99 and $5.99 including soup, appetizer and salad.

Siam Thai Cuisine, 24501 del Prado, Dana Point. Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 3 p.m.; dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m. (714) 240-7944.

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