February 8, 2009
I am totally into food. Add my friend who is also totally into food, and you get a Pepto Bismol-inducing food frenzy. On one such occasion, we visited perhaps the only authentic Chinese joint in Cleveland proper, Siam Cafe. Apparently, they also serve Thai and Vietnamese food, but we were there for the good stuff. ALSO apparently, they tout themselves as a seafood restaurant, but I don’t recall if I saw one of those huge tanks with really dirty and feeble looking lobsters in it.
Summer rolls with sweat peanut sauce. Who can go wrong with these things? To be honest, I used to really hate these, but after spending time in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and its large Thai population (Thai restaurants outnumber any other Asian restaurants, and most Japanese and Chinese places are run by Thai owners), I grew to love the chewy rice paper wrapper, the thin, white, and slightly soggy clump of noodles, fresh kick of cilantro, and the strips of shrimp. With a nice huge gob of peanut sauce and the crunch of chopped peanuts, this is awe-some!
This was a sort of chow mein, that is, with fried noodles engulfed by a thick savory brown gravy full of broccoli, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrots, and chicken chunks. The textures in this sort of dish is always nice, you get the fried goodness of low-quality noodles dripping with a nondescript, not quite good sauce. I feel like the sauce in this was lacking in any sort of tasty flavor, and it was not hot enough.
Probably the best dish of the night. This large portion of thick tofu slices (chunks?) fried with a weird bleb in the center (notice the light coloring in the center of the pieces). My friend would push in the bleb, fill with sauce, and proceed to eat. I adapted this method, which proved to be better than the old, cover with sauce or dip in sauce technique.
I was very excited about this dish but was sorely disappointed. I believed the “SEAFOOD RESTAURANT” part of the joint’s name, and went with a fried lobster with green onions and garlic. The dish was very very lukewarm. I think that was the problem. If it was sizzling and hot straight from the wok or frier, it would be so tasty, but it was ruined by the “I’ve been sitting on the counter for 15 minutes to come out” factor. It was mediocre and tastes like what you would expect of leftovers if you brought this home and wanted a little snack.
I don’t know if this proved to you that two girls can be voracious eaters (there was basically nothing left on the table except for some of the white rice that they give with the meal), but afterwards, we went to the Cheesecake Factory located maybe 20-30 minutes away to have dessert. Yes, we are crazy, and no, this isn’t the worst we’ve gotten ourselves into.
They give you this basket of bread regardless. It’s nice because the bread is warm and actually good for a generic chain restaurant that’s on the pricey side. The white bread is pretty standard, but the pumpernickel? with oats on top is very sweet (honey?) and is quite good.
Pumpkin pecan cheesecake. I believe this is seasonal. It’s like packing 2 of my favorite desserts into one. Literally, it is. They just stuff the pumpkin pie cheesecake layer between the pecan topping and that sweet goo that is distinctively pecan pie. Tell me, though, who seriously eats this much whipped cream? It’s actually funny that I ate the whole thing except for the whipped cream. It’s like those people who go to a restaurant and get a Diet Coke to drink but then this huge fatty 5-course meal. Oh wait, that’s me.
Another good bet at the Factory is the carrot cake cheesecake. It is another one of those packing 2 of my favorite desserts in one. It’s also like asking for a quadruple bypass as opposed to a triple. I also enjoy the apple crisp. I also recommend this $30 appetizer they have which is a sampling of “the best of” the appetizers which they sell. Yes, on another occasion, I’ve split this with only my friend. And yes, all of my disposable income goes into foodstuffs.
Bottom line: If for some sad sad reason you are in the metro-Cleveland area and hankering for some affordable Asian cuisine, this may be the place for you. It’s conveniently right next to a gas station so you can stop to fill up your tank before you get the hell out of there and run to the safe haven of cream cheese desserts.
3951 St. Clair Avenue
The Cheesecake Factory
24265 Cedar Road