353 Woodstock Road,
028 9045 1019
HOW do you best measure the culinary standing of a city like Belfast? Michelin Stars, of which there are now three, or broader entries in the tyre maker’s guide covering places lighter on the wallet and pubs?
Is it nothing but independent specialist traders, free from the stench of corporate overloards or tax dodging multi-national stringpullers?
It’s a balance of all these and the choice that comes with it that will provide most to a place like Belfast, and it’s the sort of choice somewhere the size and increasing diversity of Belfast has been missing. Among that choice, my own choice tends towards places like Siam Kitchen on the Woodstock Road.
There are a few tables, and seats at the window, with the takeaway counter up the back doing the majority of the business. In this way, it’s very like Bites of India, the rightfully award-winning place a 10-minute walk away on the Ravenhill Road.
This utter lack of pretension is shared along the Woodstock by the brilliant Piccola Parma (all of 259ft away according to the magic of the internet) and the excellent 227 Restaurant, another five-minute dander further up the road.
On the surface, there’s nothing fancy about any of them, but everything about all of them demands you go back – the welcome, the atmosphere, the service, and especially the food. These are the experiences you want when you go out to eat.
Siam Kitchen’s fishcakes are blush pink and studded with green beans and lime leaves, with a gentle curry warmth and the necessarily authentic bounce. Spring rolls are held together with gossamer-thin rice paper and busting out with the freshest crunch of lettuce, carrot and coriander, with tiny tendrils of rice noodle and fat prawns tucked in there as well.
Tom kha soup is a soothing bowl of cream of chicken brought up a notch with nobble-edged coins of ginger, some chilli and more lime leaves. Thick rice noodles come with nicely cooked pieces of beef and warming chilli but the stars of this generous £7 portion are the Thai basil, punctuating everything with a sweet, almost-licorice, perfume and the plentiful peppercorns, little pellets of insistent heat and fragrance.
Roast duck comes with pineapple in a sweet, tikka masala-esque sauce that, like everything, is absurdly balanced. It could so easily be an over-rich, over sweet confection. It’s not. More pineapple, chicken, and cashew nuts dapple a heap of moreish fried rice, while the plain sticky stuff that soaks up all that curry sauce is, as you’d expect by this stage, exactly right.
As Ulster fries are to this place, so the green papaya salad is to Thailand and its neighbours – and Siam Kitchen’s hits all the markers. Strands of crisp fruit are bathed in heady fish sauce and the zap of lime balanced with palm sugar, and dusted with crushed peanuts. The chillis that have quietly made their presence felt elsewhere are anything but quiet here, but everything together works.
You’ll need to be the sweetest of tooth to really appreciate the drinks – the red lime soda, pink milk and milk tea all taste like Willy Wonka creations without the restraint – but one of the sweets themselves round things off spectacularly.
Banana fritters and ice cream are steady crowd pleasers, but the black rice pudding is something special – and sums up this fantastic little place, the sort any city is lucky to have.
Sticky, deeply amethyst-hued rather than pitch black rice, is a sweet, glutinous foil for salted coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds. It tastes like alternate fistfuls of the warmest, sweetest, saltiest popcorn imaginable. It’s a perfect bowl of food. And it’s £2.50. Bonkers.
Fish cakes £5.50
Fresh spring rolls £6
Chilli and basil noodles £7
Pineapple friend rice £7
Green papaya salad £7
Tom kha soup £5.50
Roast duck and pineapple curry £7.50
Sticky rice £2.50
Black rice pudding £2.50
Fried bananas £2.50
Pink milk £2.50
Milk tea £2.50
Red lime soda £2.50
Source: Thanks http://www.irishnews.com/lifestyle/2020/02/22/news/eating-out-siam-kitchen-brings-unassuming-yet-delicious-thai-fare-to-belfast-1848146/