Thai Siam Jiak

Special thanks to Thai Siam Jiak for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Thai Siam Jiak at Alma is a restaurant that is often overlooked even by locals. Located at a row of shops near Aeon Mall Bukit Mertajam and Tesco Bukit Mertajam, this restaurant has plenty of parking spaces at the front.
Thai Siam Jiak is open for dinner only. The main attraction is a special type of steamboat which originates in northeastern Thailand. As per tradition, soup is cooked in a claypot over a charcoal brazier. Compared to metal pots, claypots applies gentle heating so that cooked food feels "warm" rather than "burnt".
There are 2 types of soup available: Jim Jum Soup (จิ้มจุ่ม) and Tomyam Soup (ต้มยำ). The former is the specialty here, which is also my choice this evening. Jim Jum Soup is stewed from pork bones, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves. In particular, I like the unique aroma of basil leaves as the soup boils.
Instead of ordering items separately, it is prudent to select one of the set meals on the menu. Customers can choose between seafood and pork, or a combination of both.

The Seafood & Pork Set (RM24.90) is meant for 2 persons. The set consists of pork, fish, shrimps, cheese-filled meatballs, fish balls, crab sticks, enoki mushrooms, galangal leaves and cabbage. For larger parties, there is a 4-person version of this set meal for RM48.80. Soup refills are complimentary.
If the amount of food is insufficient, additional items can be ordered à la carte. Shown here are scallops (RM10.00), Taiwanese sausage in meatballs (RM4.00), cheese-filled fish balls (RM4.00), otak-filled fish balls (RM4.00), squid balls (RM2.50), yau mak (RM2.50), fried noodle (RM2.50) and egg (RM1.00).
I like minced pork with egg (RM7.00) because the egg tends to infuse extra savoriness to the meat. Remember to mix the minced pork and egg thoroughly before adding spoonfuls into the soup.
According to Thai Siam Jiak, the recommended way to enjoy steamboat is by adding vegetables first. As soon as vegetables impart sweet flavors to the soup, add other ingredients slowly without causing the soup to stop boiling. Raw pork and fish only require several seconds of cooking. Lastly, residual soup can be sipped slowly since it is now rich in flavors.
Thai Siam Jiak prepares two types of sauces (น้ำจิ้ม) from scratch. The green type is sour and spicy, while the red one is sweet and spicy. The former has better aroma but the latter better suits my palate. For best effect, dip cooked meat into a sauce briefly while the meat is still hot from the claypot.
As for drinks, Iced Chocolate (RM3.50) is prepared from a popular brand of chocolate drink in Thailand, similar to what Milo is in Malaysia. In case you haven't noticed, iced Thai drinks are gaining popularity lately and are commonly sold by roadside stalls all over Penang.
Name: Thai Siam Jiak
Address: 30, Lorong Seri Impian 1, Taman Seri Impian, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-540-0830
Business hours: 6:00pm-11:00pm (Monday-Friday), 5:00pm-11:00pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Coordinates: 5.31668 N, 100.47890 E
Directions: Thai Siam Jiak is located at a row of shops behind Aeon Mall Bukit Mertajam and opposite of Tesco Bukit Mertajam. There are parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

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