Legacy Siam is creating a new feel at its recently opened restaurant in the Village at University Park in palm Desert.
The location has housed the long-shuttered former Lucky’s restaurant, but Legacy Siam owners Ally and Chai Butrlakorn have transformed the site with a Feng Shui sense of openness and balance.
Legacy Siam is sister to the popular Legacy Thai Cuisine in La Quinta, also owned and operated by the Butrlakorns. The new large space has double high ceilings, open ducting, and walls of glass overlooking the corner of Cook Street and Gerald Ford.
Cheerful pale yellow walls with splashes of red accents – such as drop lights over the bar – give it an upbeat and fun atmosphere. In addition to bar and table seating, a communal table with glass bubble drop lights offers another option to single customers wishing to mingle, or for large parties.
An elephant quilt wall hanging sparkling with rhinestones and a tranquil Buddha head painting adds to the authentic Thai decor.
The menu is Isaan style, which is the northeastern region of Thailand from where Chai came. Steamed rice is served in a woven bamboo cylinder with a pull-off top.
“In Isaan, when it’s cold, it’s very cold; and when it’s dry, it’s very dry,” said Butrlakorn. “People carry their rice in this bamboo container to warm their hands. At mealtime, they take a little rice out and mix it with their food.”
One of the regional dishes is Gai Yang Isaan (pictured above, right), a chair-grilled half of a marinated chicken served with a spicy red chili sauce, and steamed “sticky” rice Isaan-style in the bamboo container.
Another is the Isaan Thai pork sausage served with fresh ginger, Thai chili, peanuts and fresh green cabbage.
The Butrlakorns are eager to share and describe their many unusual dishes with guests.
“Everything is very fresh, and made-to-order,” said Ally Butrlakorn. “Something you won’t find anywhere else is our Jungle Curry or Gang Pa.”
Curry paste is cooked in finger root jungle broth, Thai basil, fresh vegetables and choice of chicken shrimp, fish, scallops or tofu. Finger root is a tangle of long roots that resembles ginger.
This is a curry made without coconut milk. The other curry dishes – green, red, yellow, Massaman and Panang – are all traditionally cooked in coconut milk.
Another unusual appetizer is Poh Phe Sod, steamed eggroll skin wrapped around fresh cucumber, Chinese sausage, green onions and bean sprouts served with sweet tamarind sauce and topped with fresh crab meat. Chai’s hand carved radish flower adds a gourmet touch to the dish.
Legacy Siam offers a daily lunch special for $8.95, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each of the 18 choices includes steamed rice, Tom Kah Kai soup and small house salad.
In the near future, the Butrlakorns plan to offer an Asian seafood boil that will include fresh seasonal crab legs, oysters, shrimp, lobster and clams, all at market price. You will be able to choose how spicy from mild to very spicy. In addition will be fried catfish, shrimp and oyster baskets with sweet potato fries, and extras such as corn, potato, steam rice and potato.
Legacy Siam, 36901 Cook Street, Ste. 10, Palm Desert. Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to Midnight, (760) (442) 666-3640.