MORRIS COUNTY — Unfortunately, despite having the opportunity to visit various parts of Asia in my youth, I never had the pleasure of visiting Thailand. I enjoy Thai cuisine and it would have been great to experience one of their open-air food vendors, storefront, or waterway eateries, or even try out an upscale Bangkok restaurant. I may not have been able to get to Thailand, but I can still enjoy a true sense of Thailand culture, as well as some of their authentic cuisines right here in Parsippany.
Siam Heritage Thai Kitchen, located among a series of storefronts in a small strip mall on New Road, at the intersection of Route 46 East, one of Parsippany’s newest additions, held their soft opening this past September and their grand opening October 25. Previously, Hwang Bu Ja, a Korean restaurant had occupied the location. The exterior does not stand out from the other similar-looking glass front restaurants and shops that line the strip, but upon entering you encounter a small, but cozy-looking interior, with comfortably situated wooden tables, in a well-lit, sparkling clean, cozy, casual ambiance.
The warm feeling interior is thoughtfully complemented with a soothing color scheme, simple décor (more will be coming), soft recessed lighting, and relaxing music playing in the background. I should mention there is a limited off-road, free, parking lot at the location, and there are also spots on the side of the mall that should be able to accommodate your needs.
I arrived with a small group of friends, and we were made to feel immediately at home. Our server/manager, Tau, could not have been more cordial or welcoming. Service was prompt, attentive, and efficient. Water, menus, and cutlery were quick to arrive (interestingly, Thai cutlery generally consists of a fork and large spoon. The spoon is held in the right hand and used in place of a knife, and the fork helps to arrange the food on the spoon before bringing it to the mouth. As all ingredients in the dishes come already cut up, there is no need for a knife -of course, you can always use chopsticks), and we began to ponder over many mouthwatering choices. The menu was extensive enough to accommodate everyone’s individual tastes, so we were off to a good start. This is a BYOB, so I brought along some Thai LEO beer which perfectly complimented my dishes.
Internationally renowned Thai Chef, and Corporate President, Punsak Puncharoen, known professionally as Chef Oudy visited us at our table and was kind enough to share his story with me. The amiable and courteous Chef, who assured me that Siam Heritage’s Thai food is truly authentic and is the same food and quality as one would find if in Bangkok, began his culinary journey at the age of ten when he was sent to live at a Temple to learn kae sa luk, the art of fruit and vegetable carving. Thai food is known for its artistic and beautiful presentation of food. Kae sa luk, which dates to the 14th Century, requires extreme dedication to learn to carve the food perfectly and intricately, as it was done primarily for royal families. That humble beginning began his journey, and his love of food, and his eventually acquiring a reputation recognized by the current Royal Family of Thailand. Chef Oudy, who came to the U.S. in 1990, along with three partners, oversees seven locations throughout the United States (one in Union) and three more internationally, under the corporate name of Noodlefan Thai. We are fortunate to have one of his world-class restaurants right here in Parsippany.
Our group started off by sharing several appetizers; Thai Spring Rolls (paw pia tod), fried thin wrappers, filled with carrots, cabbage, and bean thread noodles, fried to golden perfection and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce; Shumai, minced shrimp and ground chicken wrapped in wonton wrappers and steamed till soft and fluffy and served with soy vinaigrette; Curry Puffs, puff pastry filled with curried chicken, caramelized onions, diced potatoes and served with cucumber relish on the side; and Wings, fried marinated chicken wings coated with enough honey-sweet chili sauce to stimulate your taste buds.
The appetizers were satisfying enough, but being fans of Thai cuisine we were anxious for our entrees. My friend Mike F started off his meal with a small serving of Tom Yom soup. Small it was not! Generously sized serving of Thailand’s most famous soup, a light, spicy/sour soup simmered with mushroom, galangal, lemongrass, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. It got a serious thumbs up from Mike.
I settled on the Crying Tiger เสือร้องไห้ (seua rong hai); grilled marinated beef steak (flank steak) served with Tamarind chili dipping sauce. The steak was cooked a perfect medium as ordered, and the presentation was beautiful, it was moist, juicy, and savory. The steak came on a bed of lettuce and shredded carrots, and the Jaew sauce (on the side) was a spicy, savory, tangy, aromatic, pungent sauce that really made the steak pop. The exquisite dish that I would gladly have again. Take note, Thai food, though known to be spicy does not have to be. There are plenty of sweet and salty alternatives. Your server can help you with your decisions if you are new to this cuisine. I personally like very spicy food, but I ordered my meal “spicy” since it was my first time at this restaurant. It certainly had a mild kick but next time I will be going with the “X-spicy.” This restaurant offers your meal with No Chile, Mild, Spicy, X Spicy, and Thai Spicy. Do not go with the Thai Spicy unless you know you can really manage fiery hot food.
My friend Mike Z ordered the Asian Eggplant with Seafood (มะเขือยาวผัดพริกเผา). A gorgeous dish of Asian eggplants, garlic, onions, chilies, basil, and bell peppers, mixed and cooked in a zesty house special soy sauce. Bob, went with the Spicy Goat Cumin, a goat stew with red and green peppers, garlic, and fried chilies, with cumin sauce; and finally, Mike, the Tom Yom guy, had Crispy Salmon Strips over Pad Thai (“ผัดไทย”), with rice noodles sauteed in pad thai sauce with eggs, dried bean curd, bean sprouts, and scallions, and served with Thai sauce, lime, and peanuts on the side. Every meal came with a side dish of your choice of rice. Everyone raved over their individual dishes, the consensus was that everything was delicious and that this restaurant certainly deserves another visit in the near future.
Topping it all off, the house treated us to a Mango with Sticky Rice dessert. I love mango’s and I love sticky rice, so I do not think anything else needs to be said. I would say to someone not familiar that Thai food is like an exotic version of Chinese food. The two cuisines are similar in many ways. Give your palate a treat and give Thai a try, with its variety of dishes filled with thick noodles, fresh vegetables, chicken, lamb, goat, shrimp, and beef, all of which can be sweet, salty, spicy, or sour, I think you will be happy you did.
Closed Monday – Kitchen Break 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.Dine-In – Take Out. Catering Services Available – BYOB – Delivery – Off Road Parking.
Siam Heritage Thai Kitchen is located at 65 New Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054. (973) 310-9127.