Siamin

I had assumed Siamin’ would be a bit upscale. The food is billed as predominantly Thai, but because the restaurant originated in Paris, the menu is written partly in French. I pictured South-East Asian food with Gallic influences. ‘This is going to be interesting,’ I told my date before we walked in. Visually, it had promise. The walls were draped in heavy-set lavender curtains, and a web of tree branches upholstered the ceiling. But the effect, which had the potential to be very dramatic, was marred by empty buffet trays cluttering the entrance, which itself was narrow and cramped. The clientele also didn’t quite match my vision of the place: tables were filled with sprawling families and their shrieky spawn, alongside a handful of singles in jeans out to dinner with their laptops. Once we ploughed through the French, we realised the menu was pretty standard Thai. Some of the descriptions were vague, and remained so even after our waitress, who seemed to want to break the sound barrier with the speed of her words, tried to elaborate (the Thai phrases sounded more foreign when drenched in her thick Eastern European accent). We weren’t entirely sure what would come in the shared starter plate, but were hardly surprised by the assortment of spring rolls and chicken satay. The platter was a bit mixed. The satay was lovely, the perfectly tender meat sweaty with well-spiced juices. The prawn spring rolls, however, came in an over-crisp shell, with the tails poking disconcertingly out of the edge. More impressive was the green mango salad that followed. It was a simple dish, with little adorning it aside from the mango and the spicy vinegar dressing, but it was fresh and vibrant, and nearly identical to what you’d find in just about every street stall in Thailand. Mains were more consistent in that they were equally boring. My date sat munching on some pathetically anaemic scallops in Thai basil. Meanwhile, I was underwhelmed with admittedly plump and juicy cubes of beef in a lacklustre black bean sauce. The quality would probably not have bothered me much if it weren’t for the fact that Siamin’s prices, like its decor, are meant for a more upscale venture. It would suit the restaurant to truly understand what it serves and to whom, and adjust the bill accordingly. The bill (for two) 1x Large water Dhs20 1x Sharing platter Dhs83.34 1x Mango salad Dhs58.33 1x Scallops with basil Dhs91.67 1x Beef in oyster sauce Dhs75 1x Rice Dhs15 Service and municipality fee (20 per cent) Dhs68.60 Total Dhs411.60

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