Restaurant review: Port of Siam, Edinburgh

Port of Siam Restaurant. Picture: Neil Hanna

Port of Siam Restaurant. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Siamese cat fact #1: their low miaow is sometimes called a meezer. Fact #2: the breed originated in Thailand (formerly Siam), where they are known as wichian mat (which translates as moon diamond).

Fact #3: There’s a large print of one of these blue-eyed kitties at the bottom of the staircase of this new branch of Port of Siam. He’s beautiful, but looks like he’d turn down a handful of GoCat in favour of clawing your eyes out, peeling them like lychees, then popping them theatrically into his furry mouth.

The vibe in this restaurant, which also boasts a three-year-old sister branch in Newhaven and a Bangkok Bar on Broughton Street, is low-lit and spa-like, with a musical play-list that might be called something like Heartbreaking Anthems To Make You Sob Into Your Laksa.

It’s relaxed enough to have attracted some rare diners – aka ones who want to eat solo. There were two of them on our visit, each enjoying a glass of wine and a main course in silence and with feline decorum. This restaurant did all the right things – chatted a little, but not too much, and let them enjoy their quiet time.

They purred happily.

Starters here seemed expensive but, good grief, the portion sizes are epic.

I had four prawn rice paper rolls (£7.25), each of which was almost as thick as an ankle. When I’ve ordered this dish in other restaurants, it usually looks rather ethereal. An edible Enya song. Not this time.

Underneath transparent rice paper jackets were the bulky internal organs: thick struts of celery, cucumber, omelette and red pepper, neater triangles of apple and squished up bits of crumbly and savoury prawn, all of which were tangled into a weave of glass noodle thread. On the side: a sweet and plummy dippy sauce.

Aesthetically and texturally clunky, but pretty good eating.

Ditto for the Thai baa baa (£8.35) – aka three medium rare and platter-sized lamb chops. These had absorbed a toasty, turmeric-y and nutty tasting marinade and came with a ramekin of clear sauce, which contained chilli, mint and tamarind (a better trio than, say, The Supremes).

My main was a clever Italian spin on a Thai dish – osso bucco massaman (£17.95) and there was a bucket-worth of it. As well as squishy-soft veal shanks, there were potato blocks, carrots and a thick blanket of bark-coloured sauce, which, like WD40, had oozed into every nook and cranny. So rich and nutty – like eating Sunpat straight out of the jar. I was glad I’d gone for the coconut rice (£2.95) on the side, as it was like the sugary jelly to my peanut butter. Great.

Our fishy main – sea bass krachai (£15.25) – was another medium hot sweetie, which we ate with sticky rice (£2.95). Two fillets – as big as size 10 insoles – were lightly battered and topped with splinters of green pepper and a gingery sauce that tasted mainly of coconut milk and chilli.

My dessert was called “The Pudding” (£5.75), which was very meta. It featured a syrupy and warm coal-black rice pudding and a blob of cinnamon ice-cream. I’m not sure where the billed “coconut fondue” had gone, but I was happy enough without it.

The milky and shivery lemongrass panna cotta (£5.75) wasn’t bad either, though some might grumble about its accompaniments of what appeared to be a frozen and tinned berry mixture (I’m OK with that, I love a spongy wet strawb).

Since my visit, I’ve been thinking about that massaman quite a lot. And I’ve dreamed about the lamb chops.

I’m a fan of Port of Siam in a catty way. It’s purely cupboard love.

1 Barony Street, Edinburgh (0131-478 7720, www.portofsiam.com)

The verdict

How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks £66.20

FOOD 8/10

AMBIENCE 8/10

TOTAL 16/20

Twitter: @gsoutar

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