By Jenny Seemayer
For Hometown News
VERO BEACH -- Siam Orchid, Vero Beach's local Thai and Japanese hotspot on Miracle Mile, boasts an array of beautiful dishes offered in a modestly, comfortable décor. My companion and I were in a rush and opted for their take-out menu. The menu is chockfull of delicious choices so it took more than a few minutes to decide. I am very much a creature of habit and decided to go with my usual: the Sashimi and Unazyu Set ($14.95) accompanied by a J.B Temaki ($3.95) and one piece each of the Surf Clam ($1.95) and the Quail's Egg ($.50). What can I say - I'm an adventurous eater! My companion chose the Crab Angels ($5.95) and the Panang Curry Chicken ($8.95) from the Thai side of the menu.
We gave our order over the phone to the friendly waitress and within 20 minutes, our food was ready for pickup. When I got to the restaurant, I struck up a conversation with a waiting customer and the Itamae (skilled sushi chef) over how uni (sea urchin) should taste and its proper consistency. After having eaten this sea creature at another sushi restaurant, I was not as pleased with it, but the chef urged me to try their sea urchin ($4.95). I ordered a piece of it and was immensely pleased at its creamy consistency and subtle oceanic taste. It truly changed my mind about my future consumption about the sea urchin in general. The chef then explained that he heavily scrutinizes the product that is offered at Siam Orchid and works to command the best quality in every dish.
When we came back to the office, we eagerly attacked our lunch. The Sashimi and Unazyu set comes with two pieces of salmon, tuna, and white fish in addition to barbequed eel with rice, two pieces of a California Eel Roll, and a small helping of seaweed salad. Sashimi is defined as a tiny bite size piece of fresh fish, usually served with soy sauce and wasabi. Each slice of fish was expertly cut and prepared, exhibiting a fresh and wholesome taste. No sauce is necessary to enjoy the sashimi - one will relish its modest flavor on its own. The California Eel Roll harbors crab, eel, cream cheese, and green onion, lightly fried (tempura). The savory components of the roll melded well together. Evoking a sweet, yet light taste, the barbequed eel graces the rice and gives a greater texture to the dish as a whole. Garnished with sesame seeds, the seaweed salad had a crisp, light vinegary taste and served as an appropriate addition.
Also of note, the J.B. Temaki (temaki is defined as a cone-shaped hand roll) consisted of fresh salmon, cream cheese, and green onion. The bite-sized chunks of fresh salmon leant themselves superbly to the cream cheese with the green onions adding a veritable bite. Even the seaweed wrapping of which the ingredients were encased gave fresh purpose and definition to the roll's overall completion. The Surf Clam had a meaty, slightly rubbery texture and the Quail Egg was of a rich, yolky consistency (almost akin to eating a normal raw egg, albeit ten times smaller). Both pieces were fitting additions to this fabulous lunch.
On the other hand, my companion's Crab Angels were exceptional as well. Four fried, flaky pastries that encapsulated rich cream cheese and fresh crab were a gift from heaven, it seemed. As opposed to the run-of-the-mill Asian restaurant, Siam's version of this popular dish offers a spicy yet sweet sauce to go along with each tantalizingly demure pastry. According to Siam Orchid, these "four fried crab wontons make an excellent beginning for Thai meals" and I couldn't agree more. For the Panang Curry, my companion opted for the chicken version of this dish. The chicken is soaked in coconut milk along with a sweet panang curry sauce: sweet yet savory and while rich, exudes flavor. All together, the dish has addictive qualities and my companion could not stop eating it.
All in all, Siam Orchid has the best of both worlds: Thai and Japanese. With their menu being more than five pages long, it may take you a while to choose something but no matter what, you know you'll have made the right choice. Unquestionably, the itamae has succeeded in his quest to provide the superior experience in fine Asian cuisine here in Vero Beach.