Sri Siam on W.A. Silva Mawatha is a new Thai restaurant. We had high hopes since it’s run by Thai management, but the food just wasn’t up to par.
Thai food is definitely trending in Colombo, and that’s great. When done right, the flavours and spices of Thai food really appeal to Sri Lankan taste buds. One thing that had us excited was hearing that Sri Siam would be run by Thai management as well as Thai chefs.
The first thing we noticed was the menu was more akin to that of a Chinese restaurant, and that some classic dishes – like pad thai and glass noodles – were unavailable. Prices are also on higher end of the scale with small portions priced between Rs. 650 – Rs. 800, which was just enough for two.
As is customary, we started off with the tom yum soup (Rs. 870). In my opinion, you can gauge the authenticity of a Thai restaurant by the number of ingredients you find in a tom yum soup, and that’s where the downward spiral began. We could tell that the flavours were off just by the first taste, with the soup being way too salty, likely because of too much fish sauce and lacking a balance of acidity.
Meticulously looking through (and tasting) the soup we found that while it had lemon grass, there were no kaffir lime leaves or cilantro, very few Thai or green chillies and just one tiny slice of galangal. There was an abundance of dried red chillies. The only real pro here was that there was plenty of shrimp and mushrooms, but that didn’t really make up for the flaws in seasoning. At the same time, none of this would matter if the soup just tasted great, but it didn’t.
With the absence of the pad thai, we opted to try their cuttlefish fried rice (Rs. 720 for S). We were glad to see that this wasn’t a generic Chinese type fried rice but it could have used a bit more seasoning and spice. Besides that we’d say the rice was pretty decent with it not being too oily and having a good amount of fried cuttlefish.
The chicken red curry (Rs. 720 for S), was also a let down. We’ve tried many renditions of red curry at numerous eateries in Colombo, but this one just lacked the solid flavour and spicy kick we expect. For a red curry to be successful it needs to have a balance of creaminess to heat, and while this one was creamy, it was also very mild. Another shortcoming was that chicken hadn’t simmered long enough in the gravy, so it didn’t bind to the chicken at all.
We were happy to see pork on the menu, so we decided to try their Thai style sweet and sour pork (Rs. 650 for S). Unfortunately, there was nothing particularly “”Thai”” about this one and the portion was only enough for one. On top of that the dish was equal parts veges and pineapple to pork. The sweet and sour sauce was the one thing we actually enjoyed, with a good balance sweetness to spice.
After a forgettable meal we decided to try out their Banana in Thai Syrup (Rs. 320), which in retrospect was unwise. We were expecting something along the lines of fried bananas in sugar syrup, but what we got were over-ripe bananas in a somewhat deplorable watery mix of sugar and milk. Definitely should have steered clear of the desserts.
Ambience & Service
Just like Curry Leaves which resides on the ground floor of the building, Sri Siam is also more or less like a banquet hall, so the ambience isn’t really a highlight either. We honestly didn’t mind that, but what we couldn’t stand was the music that was playing in the background, which sounded like a really slow baila. Not something you want to be listening to throughout the course of a meal.
The service, as expected from a very new place, was a bit all over the place. The staff while friendly, were completely unfamiliar with Thai cuisine. We don’t really blame them because most of them are from Curry Leaves. They got our order wrong twice, and when we inquired they told us that they had sent the correct order to the kitchen but the chefs had got it wrong, and it’s no surprise really because the communication is one the biggest problems with foreign chefs.
Sri Siam has a lot of work to do before it’s ready to hang with the best Thai eateries in Colombo. While we can understand the lapses in service and communication at a new restaurant, the standard of food needs to be much better.