Siam Delight Press Reviews
A Decade of Delights at Beverly Restaurant
Globe North Dining Out – November 9, 2008
Ten years ago, Bangkok native Brian Hirikul opened Siam Delight in a small storefront on Cabot Street in Beverly. Soon, word spread throughout the North Shore about the new restaurant, and on cold winter nights lines had formed outside of the place.
We first started coming to Siam Delight five years ago, just months before Hirikul moved his restaurant a few doors down. Sometimes when restaurants expand, a lot is lost in the transition. In this case though, the only palpable change was that there was more legroom in the new restaurant - which seats more than 80 people.
Walk into Siam Delight and you'll find sharp, sleek angles, hip teal walls, and a smiling and attentive wait staff. Feel like a glass of red or white wine? Try the house Beringer merlot or Zinfandel for $3.50 a glass. Every beer is also just $3.50, and you can sample selections such as Thai Singha or Chang, Bass ale or Heineken.
Diners have dozens of dishes to choose from. And while we ordered mainly vegetarian fare, we noticed people feasting on large plates of duck and chicken. Also, the restaurant uses chili pepper liberally and does not add monosodium glutamate to the food. If you like spicy food, just say the word and you won't be disappointed.
We began with vegetarian spring rolls ($6 for five rolls), and vegetable tempura ($5). The crispy spring rolls were lightly fried and filled mostly with carrots, a favorite in almost every dish. We liked the tempura sample - broccoli, carrots, and asparagus - but they were heavily deep-fried, tasting more like a basket of onion rings that you'd find at Kelly's in Revere.
We ordered two fish plates and were impressed by the presentation and mix of flavors. The red snapper with mango salsa ($14.50) was a large cut of deep-fried snapper, covered with mango, cucumber, carrots, red peppers, and red onions in a sweet-and-sour sauce.
The salmon choo chee ($14.50) was also extraordinary, and it is one of Siam Delight's best dishes. One caution: If you don't like spicy dishes, request it mild. We asked for something in between mild and hot and were not disappointed. This is a generous serving of lightly fried salmon topped with string beans, baby corn, snow peas, carrots, green peas, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and pineapple in choo chee curry sauce. Given that salmon often tastes bland, the spicy red curry added a nice finish to the fish and vegetables.
We also had chef tofu ($10.50), vegetarian pad Thai ($9), and vegetarian Thai fried rice ($9).
The Pad Thai was overly oily but the rice noodles and bean sprouts were tender and nonetheless delicious. The vegetarian fried rice was not just a plate of standard fried rice - it was warm, filling, and nearly flawless with its lovely combination of egg, onions, peas, tomatoes, scallions, zucchini, and broccoli.
The chef tofu was fresh and delicious. The dish combined firm, golden cubes of tofu in a sweet sauce with beans sprouts, baby corns, carrots, mushrooms, onions, red peppers, and scallions.
Over the years, Siam Delight has also developed a strong take-out business, and it's not uncommon to see a line of people waiting to take their food home.
The restaurant is crowded on weekends, but during the week you'll be seated right away. Also, try the lunch portions, which seem only slightly smaller but cost about one-third less. Now, that's a deal.
– Steven Rosenberg
Trip 'Delight,' Fantastic
Joy of Eating – Friday, August 1, 2003
I've been going to the Siam Delight, in Beverly, since it first opened in 1998. Roughly once a month, in fact. Let's just get this clear right off the bat: The small, brick-faced restaurant features the best curried chicken and roast duck on the North Shore.
Of course, you have to go for the spicy food (although I have to admit, my body appreciates it less at 30 than it did at 25), but go also for the hospitality. Owner Rathased "Brian" Hirikul knows almost all his customers by name and is always ready with a smile, handshake and heartfelt words of kindness.
The restaurant recently celebrated a move: two doors down from its old spot to a larger restaurant at 128 Cabot. Hirikul's pride in his success is obvious. High polished wood floors, cherry finished tables and partially paneled walls give the room a warm tone. Like Thai food, itself a contradiction between spicy and sweet, the walls are painted a cool, bright blue with artistic metal light fixtures every few feet. A recession one wall houses a metal sculpture of a motorcycle and other, similarly clever artistry can be found about the dining room.
The new spot doubles the amount of guests Hirikul can support. And all new kitchen equipment assumedly makes it easier to cook for a larger crowd. The new location is also better organized. A separate entrance for those seeking take-out keeps the traffic among diners to a minimum. The building also has its own parking lot, something that was missing from the restaurant's previous venue.
The food, thankfully, hasn't changed with the move.
Hirikul brought over a special appetizer of Wonderful Wantons, deep fried and stuffed with a ground chicken, shrimp served with a sweet sauce. It wasn't on the menu and Hirikul offered it to "my friends" free of charge. Part of Siam Delight's charm is Hirikul's warmth and generosity.
My favorite appetizer is Shrimp-in-a-Blanket ($6.25), which is similar to the wantons Hirikul served with a combination of ground chicken and shrimp, wrapped in a spring roll, together with whole shrimp. It comes with two dipping sauces - a sweet ginger and a mango-type salsa. Also hard to resist is Tod Man Koog ($6.25), which is eight pieces of fried minced chicken and shrimp wrapped with spring roll skin served with sweet and spicy sauce and cucumber salad.
There are five pages of entrees to choose from, so there are many reasons to plan return trips to Siam Delight. I've tasted each one of the curry dishes. There is Green Curry with bamboo shoots, green beans, peas, peppers and basil in coconut milk. Siam Delight serves its Red Curry with coconut mile, bamboo shoots, eggplant, string bean, pea, red and green pepper and basil leaves. Then there's Yellow Curry with yellow squash, tomato and pineapple or the Massaman Curry served with sweet potato, carrot, tomato and peanut.
I usually order chicken, but most Thai plates come with your choice of beef, chicken or pork ($8.75), shrimp or scallops ($10.25) or tofu ($8.50). Last week, I decided to go with the Green Curry and scallops, something I'd never tried before. My dinner guest chose the Home Style Duck ($12.25), a crispy boneless duck with assorted vegetables, straw mushrooms and fresh ginger in spicy house sauce.
I've tried almost all of Hirikul's stir-fried dishes (priced as the curry plates): basil with onions, peas, peppers; stir-fried broccoli with mushrooms and carrots; stir-fried ginger and the stir-fried garlic, my favorite.
Siam Delight has this fish special that I've never been able to find elsewhere. The red snapper with mango salsa is deep fried fillet topped with sweet and sour salsa over lettuce ($12.95). It is truly a sensation and not nearly as spicy as some of the other plates on the menu.
Siam Delight's liquor license hasn't been transferred from one location to another as of yet, they only just reopened a few weeks ago, but Hirikul plans to have beer and wine available soon.
– Samantha Joy
Globe North Dining Out – February 23, 2003
It was 7 degrees outside and we were in search of Thai food when I remembered a friend singing the praises of Siam Delight. Soon we were in Beverly, seated by our pleasant waiter Tee and thumbing through the menu. We were overjoyed when we saw that they did not add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to the food, and had also dedicated an entire page to vegetarian specials. Tee also mentioned that the kitchen would prepare any dish without meat.
Bangkok native Brian Hirikul opened Siam Delight five years ago, and it has served as an anchor for the cadre of other fine restaurants that now dot this city. By the time we arrived, most of the establishment's 44 seats were filled. We began with veggie rolls (5 for $5.25), good finger food that would prove to be the only dish of the night that was not spicy and did not require water or beer to cool down our body temperatures. Hirikul uses shredded carrots, and cabbage bean thread noodles, and deep fries each roll for just over one minute. The rolls were light, crispy, and did not shed oil when held.
Given the frigid weather, the Tofu Tom Yam ($2.50) seemed most appropriate. The steaming bowl of hot and sour soup is filled with mushrooms, tofu, lemongrass, lemon juice, and a Thai chili paste that will open up your sinuses in about a second. Beware of this if you like bland food. But sip joyfully if you regale in a soup that can be most likened to swallowing a scoop full of lemon pepper.
I washed down the soup with a bottle of Thai Singha beer ($3.25), but fortunately Tee kept refilling my water glass.
I would need the water, because soon our table was filled with several dishes that required liquid. The vegetable Thai fried rice ($6.95) was a light assortment of onions, peas, basil, carrots and tofu. It served as a proper bed for the Salmon Choo Chee ($13.25) - a deep fried slice of salmon topped with snow peas, red peppers, peas, and lime leaves in choo chee curry sauce. Hirikul would later describe the choo chee as a "medium" spiced curry, but as I chewed on the crunchy salmon and vegetables I wondered just how hot my mouth, lips, and head could become. My dining companion, Devorah, described the salmon as "fire."
We cooled off with a plate of Pad Thai ($6.95) that was as good as any I've tasted - the baby corn was exquisite. Things heated up again when I reached for the massaman curry ($8.75). The massaman was served in coconut milk, with roasted peanuts, tofu, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes. This was surprisingly sweet, and also went well with the fried rice.
The only questionable choice at the time seemed to be the Boston Chicken ($11.25). They substituted gluten for the chicken and by the time I got to trying it, the gluten tasted like soggy bread. The dark brown sauce, however - with onions, celery, carrots, snow peas, roasted peanuts, and red peppers - did not disappoint.
They loaded up what we could not eat in a plastic bag with a happy face on it, and soon we were moving toward the door. The line now pushed out into the street, but no one seemed unhappy. But fret not, Siam Delight aficionados. Come May, Hirikul will move the restaurant two doors down, expanding the seating to 85. I'll probably be there opening night.
– Steven Rosenberg
Real Thai and All That Jazz
Boston Globe – March 15, 2001
Rathased Brian Hirikul owns two restaurants in his home city of Bangkok, one an upscale jazz club named after Benny Goodman. Hirikul, 39, a jazz buff, earned two college degrees in the United States, worked for American Express in Thailand for five years, and scouted several California locations three years ago when he was looking to open his first restaurant in the U.S.
He settled on the North Shore of Massachusetts, and on Beverly in particular, Hirikul says, because of its population mix, economic profile, abundance of young families, and other "lifestyle" considerations. In other words, Hirikul did his homework - and it shows in every detail of Siam Delight, a 40-seat jewel of a restaurant tucked in the heart of Beverly's commercial district.
"Most Thai places still believe Americans don't want to taste real Thai food," says Hirikul, an accomplished chef himself. "I disagree. So I try to present the standard of Thai food as it's experienced back home. OK, with some adaptations, like adding more sauteed vegetables. But still, the real Thai."
Hirikul doesn't cook much these days - he mostly leaves that task to chef Vichein Pimthong and staff - but his assessment of local palates is reflected in a menu more ambitious than most Thai places we've tried.
Due to change again in August, the current menu offers such "new" items as kang leang soup (shrimp, cucumber, pumpkin, carrot, and basil with hot Thai paste, $3.95), Beverly beef (stir fried marinated beef with carrot, celery, onions, and green pepper in a spicy house sauce, $11.25), spaghetti chicken green curry (in coconut milk with green beans, bamboo shoots, green pepper, and basil, served over pasta, $11.25), and pad see yue (wide rice noodles sauteed with shrimp, chicken, egg, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, and scallions, $7.95).
We've tried all of the above, and every dish is a winner - brimming with fresh ingredients (no MSG) and spiced to order, hot to delicately mild. More authentic Thai dishes will be added, Hirikul promises, while old favorites will be retained. It's hard to see where he'll make easy trims, though.
In the appetizer category, for instance, the tod man koog (ground chicken and shrimp in a fried spring roll skin with spicy crushed peanut sauce, $6.25) drew raves from our crowd. "An A-plus, unbelievably good," gushed one guest. Honey pork (medallians sauteed in honey and soy sauce with peas, mushrooms, and tomatoes, $11.25) was a sweetly succulent alternative to the fiery-hot spicy squid (sauteed with vegetables in a chili paste, $11.25), both excellent even if they were poles apart on the heat meter.
Other entrees that stood out were the pra nua (sauteed beef with chili paste, lemongrass, lemon juice, onions, and scallions, $8.75), rama shower (grilled chicken with coconut milk and steamed vegetables in a peanut sauce, $11.25), and crystal shrimp (sauteed with onions and mushrooms in a shrimp paste sauce, $11.25). Even the Thai rolls (filled with chicken and vegetables, $4.25), a staple of every Thai restaurant from here to Modesto, drew murmurs of praise for their crispness and freshness. Dozens more dishes, from sweet and spicy duck to eggplant magic, await future sampling. That would be a matter of when, not if.
Siam Delight is a cozy, intimate place. Its salmon-colored walls are set off with dark wood. Ceiling fans churn overhead when the weather turns warmer (someday). Its recessed lighting is turned down to soothe the eye and soften the ambience. Music plays softly in the background - more Bangkok style than Benny Goodman (at least for now, says Hirikul). The restaurant does a brisk take-out business and even offers delivery service to Beverly and Wenham. Diners who elect to eat at the restaurant are in for a treat, though.
Being a thoroughly modern restauranteur, Hirikul also has created a Web site that allows customers to cyber-connect with his vision of Thai cuisine. Go to his site and you'll find - in addition to menu listings, including beer and wine - essays on Thai cooking, a sampling of Thai music (MP3 format), customer reviews, and links to Thai cooking schools, online food suppliers, the history of Thailand, Thai tourism bureaus, and more.
"The longer we're open," says Hirikul, "the more time I have to learn about my customer and what he wants. And I credit my years at American Express for teaching me a lot about the restaurant industry."
Those lessons were well-learned, apparently. And still paying off for his customers.
– Joseph P. Kahn
Thai Food with a Twist at Siam Delight in Beverly
Joy of Eating – August 29, 1999
A short walk from my downtown Beverly home lies a feast for my famished frame. There's Bella Venezia and Cabot Place, Marika's and Maria's, Tapa's, and, of course, Chianti. I've tried them all.
But the only Beverly restaurant serving Thailand cuisine sit at the former site of Piccolo Panni, at 150 Cabot St. The Siam Delight has been open barely a year, but it took Chris and me less than a month before heading down the street to give it a try.
It didn't take long before Rathased "Brian" Hirikul, 37, owner and manager of the Siam Delight, knew us by name.
Brian, along with his chef and partner, Supavat Kaewprasert, serve a full house most night. They've decorated the restaurant with bamboo place mats and posters of Thailand.
Brian, a native of Thailand, fell in love with America as a student at John Mason University in Virginia. After graduation, however, he returned to his homeland and opened his first restaurant in Bangkok, where he remained for 10 years.
Brian returned to the United States less than two years ago and now live above the Siam Delight with his wife, Ann. He studied the North Shore demographics before settling on Beverly as a locale for the restaurant.
"I had to choose between Manchester, Ipswich, Peabody, Essex and Beverly," he said. "I chose Beverly. I think Beverly is the best."
Now, less than a year later, Brian can be seen talking with the local business owners in front of his store, or chatting with customers about the food, customs and life back Thailand.
Personally, I've never been a big fan of Thai food. I've tried the Thai Place over at the East India Square Mall in Salem. I've orderd the basics, trying a several of their chicken and seafood plates, but nothing truly impressed me. May be, at the time, I thought the food too strange.
Chris convinced me to try it again when the Siam Delight opened last November. He went in first, ordering lunch one day and, two week later, he brought me with him for dinner. We've been returning ever since.
Brian and Supavat have three menus: lunch, dinner and one for the season's specials.
When we started making our rounds at the restaurant I tasted each one of the curry dishes. There was Green Curry with bamboo shoots, green beans, peas, peppers and basil in coconut milk.
I usually order meals with chicken, but most Thai plates come with your choice of beef, chicken or pork ($8.75), shrimp, scallops ($10.25), or tofu ($8.50). Once I tried the Green Curry I was hooked. I tried them all, green, red, yellow, massaman, then I went to the stir-fried plates.
I had stir-fried basil with onions, peas, peppers. I tried stir-fried broccoli with mushrooms and carrots. I has the stir-fried ginger and the stir-fried garlic, which was my favorite. Saut?ed with white pepper, tomatoes, green and red peppers, served with pineapple, cucumbers and tomatoes, it tasted like an Italian lover's Thai food delight.
Most recently, friends of ours returned to Beverly to announce their engagement. We decided to celebrate.
We ordered a carafe of Brian's house white, a nice light wine with a dry aftertaste, and an order of shrimp in blanket ($6.25), from the specials menu. The dish is a combination of ground chicken and shrimp, wrapped in a spring roll, together with whole shrimp. It comes with two dipping sauces - a sweet ginger and a mango-type salsa.
Speaking of mango salsa, that brings me to my favorite Siam Delight dish of , well, all year.
Supavat make a dish of grilled red snapper with mango salsa ($12.95). It's beautiful. The tray of fish arrives covered with small chunks of fresh orange and yellow mango, green cucumbers, red peppers and shredded lettuce. It's jush spicy enough to be Thai and just cool and fresh enough to be a great summertime dish.
I talked Chris into trying it. He went for the soft shell crabs with mango salsa ($13.25). It's almost as good, but you've got to just love crab. He does.
The standard Thai dishes are great here, too. Although I didn't love Pad Thai the first time I tried it, some year ago, I enjoyed it at Siam Delight. On the special menu, look for Crystal Pad Thai ($7.95); it's the same taste and texture of traditional Pad Thai with a little something different.
For dessert, Brian often offers a marvelous Thai pudding. It's not on the menu, so make sure you ask for it.
– Samantha Joy