Photo by Forest Nguyen
Thai fried shrimp with Thai tea cocktail
Meet me at 1309 E. Cary St., whose longest tenant was Hana Zushi. Enter the spartan, largely unchanged, blonde-wood dining room that has been sold many times over, each sushi bar nearly indistinguishable from the last, except for the raw fish preparations, which ranged from standout to so-so. Mom’s Siam2 may be the restaurant to break the curse of mediocrity, but not because it serves sashimi. All who enter here lift the Curse of Average by ordering from the Thai side of the menu. The Japanese dishes remain ho-hum.
Exciting dishes include Thai beef salad soaking in black pepper, fish sauce and sweet red onions. Devilishly fatty duck atop tamarind-scented rice noodles makes for a decadent combination, but you could add chicken instead to keep the pad thai catholic. Hot and sour soup doused with soft tofu, its clear burnt-orange broth broken by slivered mushrooms, eats like a meal. Sweet sticky rice fanned with mango pushes dessert haters into pudding’s fold. From tangy soup to roasted peanuts, the Thai dishes scream with flavor.
Slim wine and saki choices yield big brands. Less traveled are cocktails such as the rum-like Mekhong (a Thai spirit). Try the Sabai Sabai for a Mojito riff utilizing Thai basil instead of mint. Mom’s lunch service reminds me of buying a new car. Once you step on the lot, a smiling someone pops up and sticks with you. I’m greeted, seated, watered and have ordered within two minutes. Dining downtown, I usually worry about feeding the parking meter. Here, I wonder if I should have that second drink.
Mom’s Siam 2
1309 E. Cary St.,
225-8801 or facebook.com/moms.siam2
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.
Prices: Entrées $3 to $20; sushi $4 to $65.