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mokenamessengerdaily.com DINING OUT

the mokena messenger | November 27, 2019 | 21

The Dish

Relentless innovation drives Siam Marina but favorites persist

Bill Jones, Managing Editor

As Siam Marina coowner

Tammy Pham

hustles behind the bar

alongside her husband and

co-owner, Sam Chung, on

a November evening during

a Fall Harvest cocktail

tasting, customers continually

swing by to address

her by name and thank her

for their meals.

“They all know me,”

Pham says with a laugh.

After five years in Tinley

Park — following 20-

plus in Calumet City with

Siam Marina I and II, and

since 2007 with Asparagus,

a second restaurant

the couple has run in Merrillville,

Indiana — Pham,

who serves as the restaurant’s

executive chef, is

about as familiar to Siam

Marina’s regulars as is the

Asian fusion restaurant’s

prominent building along

Oak Park Avenue. And

while the familiarity says

a lot about the loyalty the

restaurant has earned with

its diners in just half a decade

in town, it is the unfamiliar

that keeps many of

them coming back.

“My customers always

want the new,” Pham said.

That is why the duo

hosts events like the

monthly cocktail tastings

and why it invites

fresh jazz acts to entertain

there twice a month. It is

also why Siam Marina’s

menu is starting to look

like a phone book — albeit

a phone book with an

innovative drinks list, a

seemingly endless offering

of appetizers, 10 salad

options, nine soups, and

entrees that run the gamut

from curries to seafood,

red meat to poultry to

noodles and rice.

Then, Siam Marina

“It’s really fun. I think it’s in my

blood.”

Tammy Pham — co-owner and executive chef

at Siam Marina in Tinley Park, on coming up

with new recipes

Siam Marina

16846 Oak Park Ave.

in Tinley Park

Hours

• 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Sunday-Thursday

• 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Friday-Saturday

For more information ...

Web: siammarina.com

Phone: (708) 407-

8825

brings out a companion

novella full of dessert options.

It gets more interesting

yet when Chung, working

with an enormous display

of liquor, is behind the bar

— made from a 100-yearold

cherry tree. Ever the

innovator, Chung is more

than happy to inquire

about diners’ preferences

and whip up special drinks

on the spot.

But part of the reason

the menu itself has gotten

so big is that despite

the demand for “new,”

regulars have their longstanding

favorites, and it’s

tough to let go of a good

recipe.

And customers will

find several of the alltime

standouts on Pham’s

menu before ever getting

past the appetizers. The

asparagus crispy rolls

($10) feature fresh asparagus

and bacon, dusted

with Parmesan cheese,

wrapped in rice spring

rolls, and served with a

ginger and sweet/sour

dipping sauce.

The playfully named

Duo Cargot ($15) bakes

escargot and shrimp together

in little bowls, with

a Thai basil sauce. They

come served with small

slices of garlic bread,

which diners will want to

use to sop up the sauce,

which has a slight kick.

The spicy lemongrass

beef — featuring lemongrass-marinated

beef, sesame

seeds, herbs, onion,

garlic and honey, served

with hot sauce and cucumber,

along with mixed

greens — goes big on the

presentation, piling the

thin slices of beef high

atop the greens, with the

hot sauce rounding out the

design of a long platter.

On the portion of the

menu dedicated to noodle

and rice dishes, the pad ki

mao — or drunken noodles

— with chicken ($14)

have long been a customer

favorite. They feature

stir-fried flat rice noodles,

carrots, bean sprouts, pea

pods, basil, bamboo and

eggs, flavored with a touch

of exotic wine. They alternately

can be ordered with

tofu ($14), shrimp ($16) or

beef ($18).

The menu plays with

flavors from around the

world but focuses on influences

from Thailand

and Vietnam — the latter

Pham’s first home — in

The spicy lemongrass beef at Tinley Park’s Siam Marina features lemongrassmarinated

beef, sesame seeds, herbs, onion, garlic and honey, served with hot sauce

and cucumber, along with mixed greens. Photos by Bill Jones/22nd Century Media

The pad ki mao — or drunken noodles — with chicken ($14) have long been a

customer favorite at Siam Marina. They feature stir-fried flat rice noodles, carrots,

bean sprouts, pea pods, basil, bamboo and eggs, flavored with a touch of exotic

wine.

the French style. If the

ever-growing menu is any

indication, Pham’s riffs on

those flavors are virtually

limitless. And she has no

plans to slow down.

“It’s really fun,” she

said. “I think it’s in my

blood.”

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