Quick Bites: An Appe-THAI-zing Offering

While driving through The Villages, a banner that read, “Now Open,” caught my eye. How’d I miss this one? I thought. I stopped in for a review and ate some deliciously prepared Thai cuisine only to find out Siam Orchid had been open for—Get this!—three years.

After asking the owner about this marketing tactic, he replied, “This used to be a DQ Grill & Chill and then a Mexican restaurant. I want to make sure all the locals, as well as the seasonal visitors, know that it has changed again. It’s really worked.”

It certainly did with me.

Owners Pibool “Boon” and Dawjai “DJ” Rangsiyawaranon are both from Thailand. Before coming to The Villages, they managed the award-winning Thai Place in Orlando. When I Googled reviews for both restaurants, I saw nothing but positive comments. At The Villages Gourmet Club website, diners were very generous with their wording.

“A Thai restaurant with a drive-thru? How good could it be?” asked member Robert A. “Turns out to be very pleasant—and reasonable.”

“Everyone has been raving about this little restaurant. Now we can, too,” wrote Rich C. “All told, the bill was $30 before tax and tip. Don’t let the outside fool you—this is a hidden gem.”

My dining experience started with a fresh salad and peanut dressing that was so delicious I ordered a quart to take home. The appetizers were steamed dumplings with ginger brown sauce and very crispy spring rolls with pineapple sauce. I especially enjoyed the Pad Thai, and the main entrée was an extremely tender Siamese grouper in basil sauce. My beverage was a very sweet and milky Thai Tea made with half-and-half. The dessert, a fried doughnut with coconut ice cream, was an unusual surprise. The doughnut was crispy on the outside, but moist inside. The ice cream was creamy with coconut flavor, but not the flakes. I would’ve never chosen this for a dessert, but certainly will again.

Customers Laraine and John Palumbo were sitting nearby.

“We usually come here four to six times a month,” said Laraine. “The service is excellent, and the food always tastes fresh. Boon and DJ will work with customers who have allergies and are always in the dining area checking to make sure we’re all happy.”

There’s so much more to say about this restaurant—the live entertainment featured on Monday nights, the awards on the walls, and the imported and domestic beer also available, but I have to move on.

If I’ve piqued your interest, visit Boon and DJ on Bella Cruz Drive in The Villages or call for directions at (352) 391-5272.

Nibbles: In Downtown Clermont on Montrose Street, The Palms of Clermont, (352) 432-3988, just opened where Sunset Grill used to be.

“We’re geared towards a family atmosphere and comfort food,” offers Manager Tim Lindstedt. “The restaurant features lots of seating including a covered porch with more outside.”

Daily specials include meatloaf, Caribbean Grouper Diablo, corned beef and cabbage, Key West Coconut Shrimp, and all-you-can-eat fish on Fridays.

In Mount Dora, Louie’s Oyster Bar is closed and renovations are underway for K&C Oyster Bar. The new look will be sporty with plasma screens throughout. They’ll serve oysters, of course, as well as other seafood, steaks, barbecue, and wings. No phone number yet.

Also in Mount Dora, Sidelines Sports Eatery, (352) 735-7433, opened in May. Located at 315 North Highland Street, it serves pizza, wings, burgers, and more. Coming soon in The Villages: Sakura Japanese Restaurant in the Colony Plaza Shopping Center and Gator’s Dockside in the La Reina Building.

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