Thursday, February 18, 2010

Siam Off the Square Thai Restaurant, Denton, TX


By Ellen "EJ" Sackett
Walk into the vestibule of Siam Off the Square Thai Restaurant, and you’ll be greeted by Monique the mannequin, who on any given day may sport a traditional Thai dress, football jersey or cowboy hat.

“She’s even worn lingerie,” says Russel Mills, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Noon, the restaurant’s chef. Without cracking a smile, he adds, “It’s too cold for that this time of year.”

Noon Mills laughs. Today Monique has on Mardi Gras beads, “for the Saints,” Noon Mills explains, referring to New Orleans’ recent Super Bowl win.

Next to Monique is a ceramic lime-green Buddha with a grin as wide as Noon’s. He matches the color of the top half of the restaurant’s walls perfectly, in contrast to the orange below and the purple tablecloths. His presence foreshadows what customers can expect to find at Siam Off the Square — it’s “full of happy energy,” Noon Mills said.

Finding the restaurant isn’t easy if you don’t know where to look. Its physical address is Hickory Street, but it’s actually on the corner of Cedar and Walnut streets. The space was once part of Russell’s Department Store and has been home to several restaurants, including the original Hannah’s Off the Square, hence the similar name.

While Hannah’s expanded when it moved to Mulberry Street, Siam Off the Square downsized from its 17-year home in Carriage Square.

“We love our new location,” Noon Mills said. “The Square is a community within a community.”

Russel Mills said businesses on the Square have supported them.

“We brought our clientele with us, which in turn supports other businesses on the Square,” he said.

Customers will find the same quality food at the new location as they did the old. The menu includes a variety of appetizers, curries, stir-fry dishes and pad thai. Noon Mills’ mother, from Phuket Island in southern Thailand, provides the curry paste. She is an important influence on her daughter’s cooking, as is Noon Mill’s Chinese heritage.

“Not all dishes are spicy,” she said, “but you can expect them to be tasty.”

The menu changes with the seasons. The Millses buy locally and use fresh ingredients as much as possible. Their daily specials feature what is plentiful. They love their restaurant and customers, many of whom have become friends over the years.

“Come out and see us,” said Russel Mills. His wife added, “We love to make people happy.”


Siam Off the Square Thai Restaurant
209 W. Hickory Street, Suite 104.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday,
and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. .

Originally published in Denton Record-Chronicle, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Frilly's Seafood Bayou Kitchen, Denton, TX


By Ellen "EJ" Sackett

Forgive me. I might be the only person in North Texas who didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I know, I heard. That wasn’t the game to miss. It wasn’t just good, it was great.

DRC/Ellen Sackett
DRC/Ellen Sackett
Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen boasts frog legs and alligator on the menu.

To be honest, I’m only so-so interested in professional football, unless it’s the Dallas Cowboys. I figure Jerry Jones could use one more person telling him how to run his team, and Tony Romo wants to feel the love, especially since Jessica is out of the picture. Otherwise, I root for the team with the finest uniforms. 

Since the Cowboys didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, I prayed for New Orleans. I needed the Saints to win. Moreover, I needed a good excuse to write about frog legs and alligators. Some of you are probably thinking I should’ve cheered for the Colts. 

Seriously, though, have you tried them? Frog legs and alligator are popular dishes in N’awlins, and when you see one on the menu, you usually find the other. You can find them at both Frilly’s locations in Denton, which specialize in Cajun cuisine. (FYI: The restaurants prepare the food differently as they are owned by different proprietors.)

Usually when I think Cajun, my mouth waters for dishes with andouille sausage, bowls of red jambalaya and shrimp gumbo, and plates piled high with blackened catfish or crawfish etouffee, with dirty rice and jalapeno corn bread. You can get all those good eats at both Frilly’s, too. I was on a mission for frog legs and alligator, however — which, despite their popularity in the South, haven’t quite made it to America’s Top 10 of favorite foods.

I ordered mine fried from Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen, with a side of red beans and rice. They came with seafood cocktail sauce and tartar sauce for dipping. I started with the alligator, which, covered in batter, looked a lot like popcorn shrimp. It even had a bit of a chewy, shrimp-like texture but more closely resembled cooked turkey breast.

The frog legs were surprisingly meaty, despite their tiny drumstick size. I expected them to taste like chicken, but they definitely didn’t. Instead they tasted like — well — frog legs. They were very fresh and somewhat gamey, more flavorful than the alligator.
I can’t say I’m a big fan, but I’m happy for the Saints. By all accounts, they played well and deserved to beat the Colts. But even if they had lost, there’s no way I would’ve tried horse meat.


Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen
1925 Denison St. 940-243-2126.
Frilly’s South Cajun Kitchen
2303 S. Interstate 35E.

Originally published in the Denton Record Chronicle, February 11, 2010.