Drove in to Oakland early for a concert on Sunday night with the idea of finding a nice dinner. That was my first mistake. Almost everything is closed on Sundays. After walking and looking for an hour, I ended up at Siam Bay. The Vietnamese restaurant next door to it was packed and had a wait list, with people spilling out onto the sidewalk. The Bay had a few tables full at 6 pm. That should have been my first clue.
Siam Bay is well - apportioned with authentic Thai feel but the decor has seen better days. The service was fine and the place has the feel of a comfortable local restaurant. The clientele reflected the multicultural make up of the city and while I dined several groups of people came in who were obviously regulars.
But perhaps I am spoiled. The town I live in has ten or 12 Thai restaurants - depending on the current economic conditions - and although I have my favorites, if I ended up in any one of them I would not be disappointed. They range in styles from authentic Chiang mai to westernized Thai. That feeling would change if Siam Bay ended up in that rotation, and I ended up again at Siam Bay.
Maybe I should have gone with some of the more "authentic" dishes, but I went with the tourist staples. I have to say that the vegetarian spring rolls were very good. But the dipping sauce was insipid. I ate the last few pieces without sauce. The sate was fine, but the peanut sauce was tasteless, except for being oily. The cucumber salad was in the same sized bowl as the peanut sauce - tiny. In the case of the peanut sauce, this was fine as it had no flavor. But I could have kicked up my liking of the sate a little more if I could have flavored it a bit with the salad. Less than a shot glass worth.
The pad thai is from the goopey school with about a dozen bean sprouts on the side and no peanuts. It was just starchy, white, and sweet. It could have used a little tamarind to brighten it up - both color and flavor.
I would rate the whole experience 2 1/2 stars if that were possible. I'd like to think that I wandered in on the A team's night off, as other reviewers have found this place to be really good. But I would not return and recommend caution before deciding on this place for dinner.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.