Siam Marina on River Oaks Drive in Calumet City, Illinois takes customers to Thailand with traditional Thai cuisine and a delectable menu with something for everyone.
Tammy Pham, the owner of the restaurant, has sincere dedication to satisfying her customers which becomes apparent immediately by the comfortable atmosphere. On the outside, Siam Marina looks like one of many storefronts in a shopping mall. The whole feel of the place changes, though, after walking through the door. The inside of the restaurant looks fairly large and comes as a welcome surprise after seeing the outside. Pham beautifully decorated the restaurant with oriental paintings and decorations adorning the walls, oriental vases, flickering votive candles, dimmed lights, and a few fresh flowers at each table. On warmer days, customers can also dine outside on the lovely enclosed patio or the gazebo surrounded by lush green plants reminiscent of Southeast Asia.
Pham left Vietnam for the United States at the age of 14. As a child, she loved cooking with the women in her family. When she was 16, she found a job at the Star of Siam in Chicago as a waitress. In 1994, Pham bought and renovated Siam Marina on Sibley Boulevard, also in Calumet City. The business did so well she set her sights on opening a second location. Her decision for the location on River Oaks Drive proves to be another success.
Upon being seated, we were quickly given menus and poured water. The waitstaff often stopped by the table throughout the evening to refill glasses and take empty plates. They also graciously brought more plates upon request, allowing my group to share our orders with ease.
The restaurant serves alcoholic beverages, but I ordered the sweet Thai iced tea ($3.50). The title itself gives away that the drink has a sweet taste. Made with sugar and condensed milk, the creaminess of it caught me by pleasant surprise. The tea flavor cannot be tasted at all either except as a slight aftertaste. This tea goes along perfectly with spicy foods. For those who would prefer an alcoholic beverage, Siam Marina specializes in martinis and has a martini bar toward the back of the restaurant.
For an appetizer, I strongly recommend the Siam platter ($25.00). This gives customers a taste of a variety of the appetizers on the menu: Thai egg rolls, chicken satay, nem nuong (pork meatballs), todmun (fish cakes), and vegetable tempura. One could even make a meal out of this appetizer alone as it has large portions. The sauces served with it include sweet and sour sauce, peanut sauce, ginger-lime sauce, and a cucumber and crushed peanut sauce. They make each food absolutely scrumptious.For vegetarians and those a little more price sensitive, I suggest the vegetable soup ($5.95). The soup comes in a large bowl and can easily be shared with another person. It has an amazing mixture of flavors made with vegetable stock, white asparagus, baby corn, other fresh veggies, and a hint of ginger. I have never tasted a better vegetable soup in my life. It was a little spicy, though, but can be made milder upon request.
For the entrée, I ordered the nutty chicken (requested mild, $12.95). It looked mouth-watering as it was placed in front of me and served in what can only be described as a beautiful, lopsided bowl. It proved to be the best entrée served the group. The dish is extremely flavorful as it is made with sautéed chicken, a spicy spirits sauce, and six passion nuts: cashew, lotus, dates, peanuts, almonds, and water chestnuts. The combination of these flavors plus a little bit of ginger and garlic made the dish simply divine. However, I learned I do not like dates and will request the dish without next time. Other entrée options include garlic chicken, pork, or tofu ($11.95), baked duck ($15.95), and spicy baked salmon ($21.95). The portions are so large there will definitely be leftovers to take home and enjoy for a second time as well.
Those who prefer desserts at the end of their meal must try the Siam chocolate with strawberry sauce ($5.95). This rich chocolate cake is drizzled with a strawberry sauce as sweet as ambrosia. Other dessert options include Siam custard ($3.50) and banana in sweet sticky rice ($3.00).
Siam Marina delivers fine dining and delicious food with prices and menu items to accommodate anyone who walks through their door. Spend the evening in Thailand; I know my plans for a return visit are already in the making.