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Siam Sally.....

A Touch of Thai!

The site in Padang Tegal, South Ubud, used to house the restaurant Barandi. Although it was a building of new and modern design it was totally demolished to make way for its new occupier, Siam Sally. Though that appeared to be an overly extravagant method, the new building is quite striking. The open tunnel concept keeps you surprising cool, the dark wood tables and chairs produce an atmosphere not unlike quality Thai, a large welcoming Buddha is at the entrance. The open upstairs section seems the most popular, although I like the small rear garden courtyard.

The name sounds rather American and it definitely has that influence throughout. Siam Sally is under the same management as Batan Waru, Cinta Grill and TeraZo. The menu is quite large. Many dishes have traditional Thai names even if the production method is a variation of same. Other dishes are either Asian or an International version thereof.

The Roasted Duck Salad combines slivers of duck with finely chopped banana blossoms, coconut cream, chilli paste and crisp shallots. It has that taste of Thai as does the Crisp Fish & Green Mango Salad, although the green mango is not as sour as expected. Many people have the misconception that all Thai dishes should be chilli hot. Not so, in fact a perfect Thai meal, for a Thai or anyone else able to appreciate the complexity of Thai cuisine, is a selection of hot, sweet, sour and stir-fry dishes [mainly dry curries] which should all be tasted, one by one interspersed with mouthfuls of rice to cleanse the palate along with a soup which is sipped throughout [particularly after tasting a hot dish].

As with most Asian cuisines no one ever eats just one dish [with the exception of noodle and rice dishes which are mainly for quick solo lunches, or in-between snacks]. Anyone afraid of hot dishes need have no fear of dining at Siam Sally as all the flavours are muted.

Chicken Wings are on many menus in Bali, but are they are rarely the complete wing as used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. At Siam Sally the complete wing is served and has been stuffed with minced chicken. Prawn Wraps, or 'Prawn in a Blanket' as translated from the Thai, are medium sized but juicy prawns wrapped in rice paper and deep fried. The advertised sweet and sour dipping sauce was replaced by another, probably better option. The sauces in general at Siam Sally are rarely like what is normally associated with that dish, but are still adequate for a tourist market not so used to the cuisine.

Another classic Thai dish is Gai Hor Bai Toey, or chicken pieces wrapped in pandanus leaves. The chicken is pre-marinated before being wrapped in the leaf and deep fried just prior to serving. The resultant chicken, after unwrapping, is incredibly tender, sadly it comes with one of the restaurant's standard sauces/salsas.

Tod Mun Pla [fish cakes] sounds so simple but in fact requires very high kitchen skills to prepare in the Thai manner. In many non-Thai restaurants in Bali, and around the world, Thai Fish Cakes are on the menu and although they are just fish patties with a few Thai herbs they are usually very tasty and popular. Here they were a total disappointment, fitting neither description. Dry, flat, thin rounds, with little taste and as for the 'fiery sweet sour chilli sauce', I think the fire had gone out. The traditional cucumber relish accompaniment would have improved the dish, but still not enough.

Soups are always a part of mainstream Thai. The classic Tom Yam Goong is well known, prawns combined with a hot and sour broth. Whilst the same method can use other seafood instead of prawns, here they are strangely all combined together; prawns, fish and squid. The ambrosial Tom Kha Gai is one for all tastes, tender chicken and mushrooms in a coconut milk/cream broth with galangal, lemongrass and Kaffir lime.

Curries and Stir-fries are the mainstream of Thai cuisine, and it is important to select a group of dishes that balance and complement each other. The Duck Red Curry is the most flavour-some of all. It should be almost luscious in its richness full of slices of undercooked duck meat and tropical fruit. At Siam Sally the meat had been cut in unusually large chunks, the curry itself rather thin and the promised lychee replaced with a grape. Massaman of Beef is often referred to as a Muslim curry as it comes from the south of Thailand, near Malaysia, and has been greatly influenced by Indian cuisine with its cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric ingredients. This is yet another dish, amongst many, you can select that is completely devoid of that hot chilli taste.

There are also Green curries [with pork or chicken] and Mussels and other seafood in a wild ginger and red curry coconut mousse, steamed in a banana leaf. As with all Asian cuisines there are many Vegetarian options, other than those just stir-fried in the wok. Here oyster mushrooms, sweet potato, apple eggplant and cashews are combined in a green coconut milk curry.

Pork Bites are small pork squares cooked in cinnamon and star anise with a tamarind and palm sugar glaze. You can taste all of the ingredients; the pieces sitting on a base of shredded green papaya. A Squid Stir Fry presents squid curls that are amazingly tender, almost soft, with onion in a yellow curry sauce. Unusual as stir fry dish are normally dry. Chicken and Cashews is one of many Thai dishes that were originally influenced by the incoming Chinese. It has since become a favourite, but very different from the Chinese original. The chicken is tender but the usual dry crunchy taste is missing, as is the large burnt red chilli.

Other stir-fries include a very comprehensive Vegetarian, Beef and Basil and Four Mushrooms combined with minced pork.

The restaurant itself is most impressive, the staff are some of the best and the food easy to consume even if it is sadly missing that taste explosion normally associated with this cuisine, although the lack of Jasmine rice, in a Thai restaurant, is surprising to say the least.

They call the food Homestyle Thai, do not know why? Not much that is served here would be presented in a home in Thailand, not even in that of a 'farang'!

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QUICK REVIEW
Siam Sally
Address:
Jln. Raya Pengosekan,
Padang Tegal, Ubud.
Phone:
975.894
Open:
10.00 a.m. to 11.30 p.m., daily.
Bookings:
No
Parking:
Street only.
Price:
Rp. 400,000 for two [+ drinks]
Credit Cards:
- Amex
- Mastercard
- Visa
Food:
Thai style.
Wine:
Good list, by bottle and glass.
Service:
Very professional.
Atmosphere:
Dine in style.
Overall:
Thai style cuisine.
Last Reviewed:
April 2009
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