The Best Thai Restaurant in Las Vegas is Komol — and How to Order in a Thai Restaurant

When people think Las Vegas thai food, it’s usually Lotus of Siam. It’s a Vegas off-the-strip institution, once called the best Thai restaurant in the United States, and I’ve eaten well there although a couple of years back I had a pretty mediocre lunch.

They tried to open up a New York outpost, it was pretty bad, and the place folded rather quickly.

Fortunately I’ve found a Thai restaurant in Las Vegas, that’s been around for many years, that’s actually meaningfully better than Lotus of Siam, at least if you order correctly.

I had lunch at Komol which is in the same strip mall as Lotus of Siam (score one for competition!).

And to be clear I have not eaten at every Thai restaurant in Las Vegas, so in declaring Komol best I am saying it is ‘better than Lotus of Siam’.

I had read reviews saying the place was quite good, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on. When the waitress came over I asked her, “What do you like best here?”

Now, that’s a dangerous question and she initially interpreted it incorrectly. She started talking about ‘what most people order’ which isn’t at all what I was looking for. I didn’t want pad thai.

I explained,

I want to know what you like the best here, what are the very best dishes the restaurant can do? I’ve been to Thailand many times, I don’t mind Thai spicy, but I’ve never been here and want to know what you would order, if you only had one meal to sample the real highlights of the restaurant?

Following the advice of Tyler Cowen it was important to establish that I knew what I was talking about, knew about Thai food, because otherwise she was going to assume I was just like any other customer coming in.

Most people go to a Thai restaurant basically wanting or expecting Chinese food, but a little more exotic. And if the question is seen as “what should I order?” she would try to answer it as “what should someone who doesn’t know anything about Thai food order, so that they don’t complain and hassle me after I drop off the food?”

It turns out this was the exact right way to approach the restaurant, as I got great recommendations for food that turned out to be outstanding.

I picked the Nam Sod with Crispy Rice because nam sod is a great staple and ever since eating lunch at this Laotian restaurant “they had me at crispy rice.”

The next three dishes were all staff suggestions.

The whole Tilapia with Tamarind Sauce was truly outstanding.

The Stewed duck was also spectacular, though simple.

I liked the Chef’s Special Curry and would absolutely order it again, but it was the weakest of the three.

Between these four dishes it was a fantastic lunch though I did decide to give their dessert a try. Dessert was a disappointment.

First was the mango with sticky rice, the mango was fine although not perfect and the sticky rice didn’t seem fresh. Not bad, but not a highlight.

I was they had taro balls and so decided to ask about bua loy, but they didn’t have that (Few outside Thailand do). That’s fine, I figured I would give this a try though it was much different than what I was expecting, way too thick almost like a heavy sauce rather than taro balls in coconut milk I thought they’d serve.

I’d go back in an instant, I’d return here instead of Lotus of Siam next door, but I’d finish my entrees next time instead of ordering dessert.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Don’t be mean to pad thai … I love pad thai. Next time I am in LAS, I am going to check it out AND tell you how the pad thai is !!! 🙂

  2. Just like Chinese food in America is fake chinese food, Thai food in America is mostly not authentic. It’s more authentic than Chinese food but it’s still catered to American taste.

  3. @stef – yeah, my wife is Thai and makes Pad Thai quite often, not every day, but perhaps once a week or so. My mother-in-law, who is an even better cook than my wife, makes it too, it is a staple in the Thai diet. They would be amused at a farong who turns their nose to it.

  4. I love pad thai too — the comments from the staff at the restaurant were about Westerners who know nothing but pad thai and won’t eat anything else at a thai restaurant.

  5. Okay gotta stick up for Lotus of Siam as I had a fantastic lunch there that weekend. Granted, I’ve never to Thailand and did order pad thai (along with garlic prawns, nam kao tod, and mango sticky rice), but I’m a pretty simple gal. 😉

    Def wanna try this place too, but will be hard to not just return to los.

    Post on Lotus coming as soon. Thanks for writing this so I get that one done!

  6. Just had my birthday dinner at Lotus of Siam. Some of the dishes were outstanding and some were just okay. I would definitely go back to try more of the dishes. I would recommend to anyone to go early as there was quite a long wait.

  7. Mike if you have never been to Lotus you can’t imagine how good it is. I disagree with Gary as I have been to both restaurants, I live in Vegas. Lunch at Lotus is a buffet and not the same as dinner. Trust me there is a reason the chefs in the know and most food critics on the planet consider it some of the best Thai food anywhere. Let me know next time you are in town and I’ll go to Lotus with you. Also one of the great Riesling wine lists on the planet.

    Archies is also very very good and the nephew of the owner open a restaurant in China town that’s worth a visit. The name escapes me right now.

    The counake and red Curry are 2 of the single best things I have ever eaten!

  8. To be clear I have been to Lotus of Siam at dinner, and I excused the poor lunch ordered off the menu (see linked post above) as likely the result of their focus on the buffet. I have had the red curry.

  9. What’s with your oddly declarative statements about the BEST ethnic food in certain locations? First the hand pulled noodles, now this. You realize tastes are completely personal, right?

    And it doesn’t get more snobbishly offensive that this:

    “Most people go to a Thai restaurant basically wanting or expecting Chinese food, but a little more exotic. ”

    Wow, can you be more snobbishly offensive?

  10. @Clint, apologies I actually meant to write up that section as conveying a conversation about the frustrations that the folks at the restaurant had. Taste isn’t entirely subjective, and my claim in this post is fairly modest in that I try to make very clear I am comparing 4 dishes at this restaurant to multiple visits at Lotus of Siam. But Lotus couldn’t touch those dishes.

  11. Both places have such big menus it is a bit silly to call one the best, but I have to back up Lotus here and speak for it a bit. I’ve eaten there many times for both lunch and dinner, and I really prefer it. I often order off of the special menu (panang duck, sea bass done several ways, soft shell crab) and numerous “starters”. They aren’t shy with spice (no gringo nonsense here) and the wine list is INCREDIBLE with reasonable prices on top notch German wines that pair wonderfully with their food.

    Anyway, to each their own, but to anyone reading who is confused about where to go on a visit to Vegas, try both if there is time and skip the over-the-top-celebrity-chef crap on the strip!

  12. I’d suggest trying Chada Thai next time you’re in LAS. Also, just as an FYI, you can order off the menu at LOS at lunch ;-).

  13. @ev – I did order off the Lotus of Siam menu at lunch in the post linked above, my take was that they weren’t very menu-focused and that the food wasn’t as good as at dinner likely due to the buffet service 🙁

  14. @ stvr, we have been to Jitlada at LA’s Thai Town and we weren’t impressed with the food, service, or the ambiance. Just because the Food Channel did a plug on them, doesn’t in of itself makes them a great place …

    On the other hand, Red Corner Asia (RCA) which is located about a block from Jitlada offers much better Thai food, service, and atmosphere: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalboz/8739709116/

  15. I’ve been to Thailand a couple of times and moved to LAS from Chicago about a year ago. I’ve eaten at quite a few Thai restaurants here and in Chicago. But Lotus is the best I’ve encountered in the lower 48. I’m willing to try Komol and La Thai (which is downtown and has had great writeups). I like Pad Thai, But ordering PT at LOS is like ordering spaghetti with marinara at Spago.
    Go Northern Thai cuisine or head for the crispy duck (with either Penang or Chili Mint Leaves is spectacular!

  16. One more thing, Mike brought up the subject of Chinese food in the U.S. For all practical purposes, Mike is right on. But the exception to that rule in Las Vegas is Ping Pang Pong, located in the Gold Coast Casinio across from the Rio at Valley View and Flamingo. I haven’t checked out the dinner yet, but I would HIGHLY recommend the Dim Sum. We went on a Sunday afternoon and it is the real deal!

  17. I ate at the Komol restaurant recently with my family (March 2014) and it was AWFUL!!! The food and service was HORRIBLE!!! Do not eat here because the food was pricey it sucked!!! We paid quite a lot of money for only 3 dishes that tasted like crap and it was way too salty!!! If you want some authentic Thai food than you need to go next door to the Lotus of Siam restaurant!!! Now that place was worth the price. The food was the best near the Vegas strip. You won’t regret it. Hope this helps everyone!!!

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