I didn’t think I could enjoy curry again, this was after an traumatic and explosive childhood experience with the yellow stuff. But here at “Simply Thai” I grew a new appreciation for the spice. And now as I wrote this have a clawing craving for some more.
Walking in on a Monday night meant no need for reservations, and parking right out front. I was even able to grab one curb side, across the street to avoid the slanted reverse stalls Yaletown is known for. This was one of those places that you got hungrier walking in, it smelled that darn good. Ironically this was not our intended destination as my guest miscommunicated the wrong address, actually intending the one up the street instead. None the less we enjoyed our conclusion, and agreed that its slightly higher rating on urbanspoon was well deserved.
Coming up to the door you are greeted with signage advertising “Chef Grace’s new creation”, in coloured copying. It is a picture of your chef posing with said dish and the dish as is below it. This is also posted in the foyer inside. It peaked my interest, but not enough to order. The restaurant’s space curved and sectioned off into segments, divided by barriers. This created subtle alcoves and private nooks, perfect for those guests wanting a bit of seclusion during their dining.
For larger parties there was a step up into a spacious booth, right up front with their own bar. For smaller gatherings there were plenty of tables on ground level, and additional bar seating by the kitchen. The booths were a steely grey that paired well with the amber wood of the tables and additional chairs. Each table was dressed with square plates, metal cutlery; and most noticeably, neatly folded reusable napkins done in pleated waves. Lights were low hanging orbs of yellow, that gave each table a romantic glow. This and the mellow jazzy music overhead kept the level of audio per guest lowered. I felt the need to whisper and to use my utensils in a gentle fashion. Overall the ambience felt dressy, despite the casual fare and reasonable prices. Oil canvas paintings of Thai ships, monks praying in crossed legs, and elephants guilded in gold reminded you that you were at a Thai restaurant. And the cotton webs and plastic jack-o-lanterns reminded you that Halloween was near.
The waitresses were dressed in traditional Thai wear. Pink and blue: high collared, long sleeved satin tops; with tightly bound glittery skirts that ended at the ankle. They whisked about with their hair tied back, poised and hospitable. The dress code really added to the authenticity already felt in the place.
The menu was organized by starters, salads, soups for two, curries, chicken & duck, beef, pork, and seafood & fish. There were lots to choose from and even more to try. I allowed my guest, a more adventurous Asian cuisine connoisseur, to choose the dishes we would soon share. She selected unique dishes I wouldn’t otherwise tried, I usually just go for pad Thai.
“Pad Ta-lay Pong Karee”. A mixed seafood dish with stir fried onions, bell peppers, green beans, bamboo slices, lemon grass, and kaffir leaves, mushrooms. All mixed together in yellow curry paste made with coconut milk and topped with fresh Thai basil. The seafood comprised of deep fried snapper filet, squid, mussels, and prawns. As expected there were more vegetables than protein, but enough seafood to flavour the sauce with a good fishy kick. My guest pointed out that the seafood didn’t taste fresh. And right after I unknowingly swallowed a spine from one of the three pieces of squid. However this was still my favourite dish, an all new and all unique taste that I have never tried. The bamboo had a great gritty bite that left your filling full. And the sauce, layers of spices and seasonings that left you with a spicy aftertaste to savour.
“Gaeng Ped Bped Yang”. Duck curry. Sliced BBQ duck in a red curry sauce with coconut milk, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, tomatoes and pineapple chunks. This was my guest’s favourite dish of the night. The change in protein made this curry refreshing, an easy way to breath new life into an otherwise traditional dish. The red curry was sweeter than the yellow above, but despite that had a more pronounce and immediate spiciness to it.
“Pad-See-Iew”. Beef with stir fried rice noodles, in thick soy sauce with cabbage, broccoli, eggs, and peppers. You can choose between chicken, beef, or pork. Our beef was a poor choice as it came out way to dry. As a whole the dish was too salty to eat as is. My guest had to enjoy it with rice.
All together the dishes were really too salty, the two bowls of jasmine rice we had ordered were definitely needed; and the two pots of jasmine tea helped. Everything was so flavourful that you needed the rice to balance it out. There was a decent balance between all the meat and veggies. And bamboo slices gave each dish a great texture with its healthy fibre. All three dishes were so different that they held their own, standing their ground on taste when compared to one another. We finished full, with lots left over. And the best part, Asian cuisine leftovers only get better, as more of their flavours soak in. I had lunch and dinner the next night. Definitely worth what I paid.
Would I come back? – Yes. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed our dishes. If the rest of the over 60 options on the menu were anywhere this good, I would be losing out without a return visit. And to think my my guest intended us to dine at another Thai restaurant. I was thankful that I had paid $6 for 2 hours of parking, and therefore refused to leave.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Through smell alone you could tell the food would be good. The staff were courteous and the environment relaxing. A great place to enjoy a nice authentic Thai meal in a great part of downtown Vancouver. And for those wanting drinks to match their meal, “Simply Thai” had a list of designer martinis with ingredients as unique as their names. “Amazing Thailand” brought the tropics with banana liqueur and pineapple juice. The “Chocolate Pear” had the decadence of Godiva chocolate liqueur with pear purée. And the “Purple Orchid” was crafted from a list of 4 liqueurs, all unknown to me. Definitely the exotic to peak your interest. Don’t deny your cravings.