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Category: Thai Page 1 of 3

Ban Chok Dee, revisit

With this marking my 5th visit to Ban Chok Dee, I can safely conclude my appreciation for this authentic Thai restaurant. Not only do they have stellar staff, but the food is consistently delicious. Here is what we had on this latest visit.

Their limited edition old fashion cocktail is what brought us down in the first place. It was competing to be the best amongst 4 in Vancouver Foodster’s latest challenge. And you too can try the “Sweet Autumn” for $10. Cinnamon infused bourbon, palm sugar, pumpkin, citrus touch Grand Marnier, and fresh orange peel. It is finished off with a pumpkin chip topped with coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds with more cinnamon. Booze forward and one of a kind, this cocktail takes its influences from a Thai pumpkin dessert. It is thick like a soup and drinks like one too.

For food we started with the “Chok Dee Platter” to get a little bit of everything. 3 Spring Rolls, 4 Golden Wontons, 2 Chicken Satay, and 2 Pork Satay.

The “spring rolls” were crispy rolls made in-house with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, and black pepper. It is served with a sweet plum dipping sauce. Hearty and full of crispy vegetables, a classic done right.

The “golden wontons” were also made in-house. Wrapped like little bundles with garlic, cilantro, and ground pepper. This too was served with a plum sauce for dipping. They were little solid meat balls hiding under a crispy shell. Tasty, but a little on the saltier side.

The satay was best esteem warm so that the meat was soft and the chunky peanut sauce was easy to scoop up on to it. Tasty with the dip, but the chicken was a little dry. I preferred the fattier pieces of pork.

One of my favourite dishes is the “prawn in crunchy noodles”. 5 marinated shrimp wrapped in egg noodles then deep fried. The texture was like eating raw instant noodles. Fun to crunch now on, but messy, there was more noodle on the table than in my mouth when I was done. It would have been nicer with less noodles for an even bite, and where you can actually get the flavour of the shrimp.

The “Isan summer wrap” was their twist on the lettuce wrap, a street snack with a lot more salt and spice. Fresh leaves of lettuce are used as a base for the fried curried rice salad made with fresh ginger, mint, cilantro, red onion, roasted peanut, and cured and grilled ‘naem’ pork. The pork reminded me of spam with its texture and saltines. I liked it and the crunch from the raw peanuts. I just found the dish a little spicy for my tastes, thought the fresh herbs and crisp lettuce did help to cut into it and lend some freshness to the wrap.

“Sweet and sour snapper”. Deep fried pacific snapper, sautéed with pineapple, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, zucchini, and onions; all coated in a thick sweet & sour sauce, then topped with golden cashews and crunchy egg noodles. A completely satisfying combination of sweet and sour, perfectly highlighted by the white first. The vegetables added freshness and the cashew crunch. I would have preferred the cucumber and tomato raw, and the dish served with coconut rice instead of noodles, for better balance.

The “Shoo shee salmon” came with a bowl of steam rice, the ideal way to sop up all that delicious coconut milk curry sauce. Ocean-wise salmon fillets, broccoli, and red and green peppers, topped with red curry and lime leaves. I was happy that the distinct flavour of the salmon or the punchy peppers did not take away from fragrant curry.

I love a good pad thai and here they do the classic tamarind noodle dish with vermicelli instead of flat rice noodles. A nice idea, but it is hard to properly fry vermicelli, which ends up breaking easily and glopping together. Here, some more bean sprouts would have helped to give the noodles more structure. Instead it was crumbly much like the bits of egg, tofu, and ground peanuts that went into it. Nonetheless I would still eat this version any day, it tasted exactly what I wanted from a pad Thai.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would visit each time I craved Thai food, if only they weren’t such a far drive out for me. I would love to see them open a Vancouver location, or at least one in New Westminster.
Don’t deny your cravings.

Ban Chok Dee Thai
20563 Douglas Crescent, Langley BC
(778) 278-3088
banchokdee.com

Wara Thai Eatery, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was at “Wara Thai Eatery”, to check out yet another Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenger. The competition that pits local restaurants against one another in order to declare their wings the best in the city. This year we had 5 restaurants, and I was one of the judges given the responsibility of finding the winner based on presentation, taste, and originality.

And “Wara Thai” was clever to use this platform as an introduction to their new restaurant, which at this time has only been open for 3 months. Although the husband and wife team are not new to the food serving game. They currently still operate “Wow Thai” located in “Tinseltown” aka “International Village”. There, they offer up their authentic Thai cuisine to diners on the go and the lunch time office crowds. And they aren’t your typical food court stall, with them ingredients and craftsmanship matter. Made to order curries and fresh Thai favourites. Their consistent cuisine has earn them a fan base. And these loyal customers have encouraged them to open this restaurant so that they can enjoy “Wow Thai’s” food, in a more private setting. So here they are, after 4 months of renovations in a space that was still “under construction”.

The exterior wasn’t eye catching, as was it pretty unspectacular inside. Nothing noteworthy other than the “work in progress” murals. Thick black lines began sketching out clouds, water, and characters with bold expressions. Although it was a shame that it wasn’t completed, to be able to give a great first impression to new customers and first time diners. Other than it, the generic art on their all white walls, and grey upholstered booths; their decor really didn’t speak much to the colourful and vibrant offerings. Nor did their menu in black, white, and red. Though, I did like their piggy logo.

When we asked about the unfinished art work the owners did explain that they are currently focusing on their food and service, and as a new establishment, more is yet to come as they grow their brand. They are even planning a trip back to Thailand to collect some artifacts and add more of a visual authenticity to the place.

We started with some Thai ice tea. As the only Thai restaurant in the blossoming area, I wanted to taste the classics and see how they stacked up as the go-to for authentic Thai cuisine in the neighbourhood. With this, they were off to a good start. Perfect in orangey colour and flavour, a refreshing caffeinated beverage I would back just for. I wonder if they have to-go cups?

Next we had the “Larb wings”, the chicken wing challenge contender. This was not on their main menu, but I hope finds its way there, as they literally cause you to lick your fingers clean. These were deep fried chicken wings seasoned with their special “larb sauce”, a mix of lime juice and Thai herbs, giving each crispy wing a nice glaze. The flavour was original, offering tangy notes, a hint of sweetness, and some kick to a familiar classic. It was well balanced and served at the perfect temperature. You find yourself going back for more, almost forgetting the tasting and wanting to experience it new all over again.

Similarly, they had a neat twist on papaya salad. Their version was made crunchy with a quick deep fry. This too wasn’t on the menu yet. Shredded green papaya, green beans, and tomato slices battered and deep fried. Served with its dressing as a dipping sauce on the side, you choose how much tangy fish sauce you wanted with your crunchy salad. And this way things stayed crispy until you wanted to eat it. This was the same papaya salad flavour you enjoy, but with a whole new texture to work through. Even if you aren’t a fan of papaya salad, you will be a fan of this one. Proof that deep frying makes things tastier.

I wasn’t a fan of the “Chicken satay”. The Thai peanut sauce and Thai cucumber and red onion relish were good, but I found the chicken itself hard and dry. The menu listed these chicken tenders were marinated in fresh Thai spices and coconut milk, but I couldn’t taste either. It had a flat flavour and could have use some char or a similar glaze to the wings above. It should already be tasty and the satay sauce used to elevate that taste.

“Pad Thai” is a go-to for adventurous and cautious diners alike, so I wanted to see “Wara Thai’s” take everyone’s favourite Thai noodle dish. Stir-fried rice noodles in tamarind sauce with egg, red onion, chives, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and basil. We had our choice of protein from pork, chicken, or tofu; and went with the latter as we had three other chicken dishes, and I never had pork with my pad Thai before. Premium protein options are also available for more. Beef for $1, shrimp for $2, and extra of any of the above for $2. My guest though the pad Thai had a bitter taste to it. I noted it as a tangy, tongue puckering note that each bite ended on. Neither good or bad, just there. Overall a decent serving of pad Thai piled high.

You don’t often see “Khao soi” on menus, so I had to try “Wara Thai’s” version. A mix of boiled egg noodles and deep fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallot, lime and chicken drumstick in a curry-like coconut soup. It had some medium level heat to it, but was balanced by the coconut cream in the broth. I would definitely recommend this one for those who love chewy noodles and a sweeter, creamier soup. I would be just as happy with only the noodles in soup, but this way everything else that came with it, was a bonus.

And for dessert we couldn’t walk away without trying their “Sweet coconut sticky rice with ripe mango”. Originally I was eyeing their jackfruit version, where they stuff the jackfruit with the sweet coconut sticky rice. However, we were told that the fruit is from a can, and the one to order was the mango; seeing as it was in season and the chef really prides herself on acquiring the sweetest mangos for her dessert.

In fact, the chef chooses majority of the ingredients herself. She wants to take the time to ensure that she is getting the best produce. She shops from different markets, knowing where to go for the best. And all this definitely came through in this dessert. This was honestly one of the best mangos I have ever had. It was so sweet and flavourful that I wanted to eat it separate from the coconut milk drizzle and sticky rice; even though those two were tasty as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The aforementioned focus on food and service really showed. On several occasions the chef personally came out to deliver her dishes to each table. She presented plates and took the time to converse and solicit feedback about the meal. She was really creating rapport and building up her clientele. After all what makes a meal at your favourite restaurant is more than just what’s on your plate. At “Wara Thai” it is the people behind the scenes recreating family recipes with heart and integrity of product. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WARA THAI
509 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2V1
604-685-5623
warathai.ca

 

For more on the challenge and how you can play judge and vote for your favourite chicken wing dish, visit the link below.
http://vancouverfoodster.com/chicken-wings-challenge/

Ban Chok Dee, Maple Ridge

Having travelled all the way to the original location of “Ban Chok Dee” before, I was excited to see if their new location would measure up to the pedestal that I put their Langley one up on. Though as much as I enjoy dining with them, the travel to is one I don’t enjoy making. Luckily my role as judge for the Vancouver Foodster sangria challenge demanded that I make the trip out. So here I was.

It is located in a strip mall, so already on first impression it is a lot more casual. Though it does still hold a candle to some of the more decorative elements the original location is known for. Like the jewel incrusted Thai deities greeting you at the threshold, the glowing crystal chandeliers caged in iron, and the rhinestone mandala that garnered your attention.

The place was packed this Friday night (the photo I took above was as one of the last guests leaving for the night). Every seat was sat, and there was a wait for more to free up by the entrance. We were seated at the bar, with a direct line to the kitchen.

Here I would be reunited with the head chef of both “Ban Chok Dee” location’s and their newest cooking school: Prinya. I have met her once before, so was delighted to have her cook for us tonight. For dinner she would spoil us with a six course meal from off the menu. She is known for her creativity and the specialty dishes that combine her expertise of Thai cuisine with all the cooking techniques that she has picked up through her journeys and learnings. Given her creativity and talent I can see her competing on Iron Chef Canada, but where would she find the time? As the owner of two successful “Ban Chok Dee” Thai cuisine restaurants, the teacher at her own cooking academy, a mother of two, and a fitness model who has competed locally, and will soon do so nationally. But despite inevitable fatigue she greeted us at our bar seats, and personally delivered us our plates course after course. She took the time to explain to us what we would be having as well as check in on how we were doing.

It is no wonder all the staff working for her were just as cordial. She has set the standard and they all followed with exceptional service and conversation. This was especially the case with their friendly bartender, and creator of their sangria contender: Kelsey V. She was as bright and cheery as her rainbow hair and wide grin. She engaged us and checked in between our sips of cocktail and wine. I won’t be covering her sangria in this blog post, as the competition is still going on, and I am sworn to secrecy. Instead, I invite you to return back to this blog after October 7th, where I will be reviewing the entire competition, the winners, and how I voted.

We began with a great tasting platter served on a marble board shaped like a cactus. It was an assembly that went well together with uniform tangy seasonings and crispy bites.

The flaky curry puff was filled with a sweet curry ground beef. It was the dressiest curry puff that I have ever had.

I liked the prawn wrapped in noodle. It offered a new twist to breading and deep frying your seafood. Here the crispy noodle strand wrapping the juicy shrimp gave it a great crunch and a unique flavour.

The prawn served with duck soy sauce was served wrapped in pandan leaf. I have never tried pandan leaves before, so wasn’t sure if you ate it and the prawn whole as the bite it was intended to be? Only through trying did I learn that the answer was, “no”. The leaves were too tough to even rip with teeth.

In the similar vein of utilizing non edible plants as holders for edible food, the shrimp cake was wrapped around some lemon grass. It was served looking like a drumlet that you can easy bite down on and pry seafood from “bone”. It was a little salty, but I loved the bounce in the bite of the cake and how crispy it’s breading was.

The next course was a chilled soup of cucumber, coconut, mint, and plenty of shrimp. It was served in a young coconut, and I wasn’t sure if you were meant to eat the coconut flesh with the soup, but I made sure to scrape it clean after my last sip. The soup was refreshing, like drinking a green smoothie, but savoury and more filling like a salad. There was nothing I didn’t like about this from its presentation to its taste, this was a great build up for flavours to come.

Next we had a scallop and crab salad with pomello, cherry tomato, cucumber, scallops, and greens. If all salads were like this one I would order and have more salads. It was great for those like myself who don’t actually like greens. It was fragrant with the strawberry, and herbaceous with the shisho leaves, peppery from the shallots, and sweet from the juicy tomatoes. This was another great start to build up the appetite with.

The lobster tail in red curry was an impressive plate. However the curry was so flavourful that it over powered the natural sweetness of the lobster meat. I wished for some noodles or a nice basmati to pair with it. Some thing carb-y to soak up the flavour, as I didn’t want to waste a drop of it, but it was too overwhelming to drink as a soup.

Our main was a deep fried cod fillet served with green beans and rice in a Penang sauce. The seasoning and level of flavours were similar to the dish above, therefore after the first bite it was too much for me. I would have liked the salad above just before this to give the palette a breath. Therefore, I was left wanting some pickles or a tartar-like cream sauce to balance out the drier fish. This dish could have also used more rice give the pool of sauce it soaked in.

For dessert we had two citrus flavoured panna cottas with butterfly pea flower jello. I preferred the orange blossom flavoured panna cover over the kaffir lime and lemon grass one. The orange offered a nicer contrast to the jello. This was a light finish to round off all the flavours above.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I came in a fan, and felt reassured in my declaration that “Ban Chok Dee” is one of my favourite places for dressy, modern, and fun Thai food. Bold flavours and stunning plates, whipped up a strong woman. Make sure you follow them on social media, if you are like me and eat with your eyes. They are always doing so many creative things worth driving 19km for. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BAN CHOK DEE
20395 Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge BC, V2X 2P9
604-459-8000
banchokdee.com
Ban Chok Dee Thai Cuisine  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Thai Bistro: $30 Dine Out 2018 menu

I am already a fan of “Urban Thai Bistro”, for their straight forward Thai cuisine. And I must not be the only one given their long standing legacy in Yaletown. For nearly two decades this family-run establishment remains, while the two blocks that make up this area have seen favourites flourish and flavours of the month fizzle. “Urban Thai Bistro” is a quick and easy spot of Thai food at reasonable prices. And when you factor in Dine Out, and their $30 three course meal: they become an even better deal during these two weeks. This is especially given how elaborate and dressy each dish was. I was genuinely surprised and impressed. To be honest I expected stir fried noodles, and bowls of curry. But what we got was a modern approach to traditional Thai flavours, presented in a very unique way.

Before I get into more detail, to read up on the restaurant as it is regularly, visit the link below. It covers my first visit as well as more on their decor.

Urban Thai Bistro


And as always, when it comes to a media tasting: playing and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

For this year’s Dine Out, Executive Chef Somchai promises a $30 multi-course menu that gives a “fresh and exciting take on traditional cuisine from Thailand’s varied regions”. I came with a friend so was able to explore all but one item on their set menu of choices. And given how the others were, I should have inquired about ordering it on the side and paying extra for it.

For appetizers are able to choose one dish out of three. The “Fresh five spiced spring roll” is the one we missed out on. It is stuffed with five-spice braised pork, tofu, egg, beans sprouts, cucumber, and green onion. Which is then all topped off with their Chef’s signature sauce.

But we had no regrets with the “Thai duck dumplings”. However given the “s” at the end of “dumplings” (as it was printed on the menu) we imagine multiples and a dish easier to share. Although, having our single dumpling gift wrapped like this, we were more than happy to receive this impressive plate and split it in two.

Inside the crispy shell hid plenty of nuts and marinated shredded duck meat, all seasoned in Thai spices. However, I really didn’t taste any nuts, not that I wanted to; I don’t think I would have enjoyed its grainy texture. I did find the rest of it a little salty, but the lettuce salad base helped. My guest too liked the salad, but because it reminded her of the thousand island-like sauce in a Big Mac, and she meant this in a good way. Rich and creamy and something to not leave behind on the plate.

Like the dumpling above the “Tom Yum infused shrimp balls” was actually just one ball. It is shrimp paste mixed with tom yum paste and Thai herbs, then coated in breadcrumbs. Another great presentation that had the single ball balancing on a pineapple ring.

Taste wise, it had a nice coconut flavour from the pool of curry that hid within it. A salty surprise, that I found a little too overwhelming; as the dish was missing some tang and freshness. Some shredded cabbage to balance out the rich seafood paste, the crispy deep fry, and overpowering curry. Something the fruit ring could have have helped in, but instead I found its flavour too similar and both together, too much. Some fresh cucumber slices or pickles would have been nice. And some rice would have been even better. In fact, I found most of our meal could have benefited from rice as a base. As, at times I found bites a little too flavourful for my taste, and I would have enjoyed my appetizers and entrees a lot more with a neutral bowl of steamed rice to go with it. Whereas my guest really liked all the punchy flavours she got and continued to rave about the quality and quantity of it all.

For entrees you have one of two choices and I suggest the “BBQ prawns” for presentation alone. Another plate I wasn’t expecting, so was greatly surprised when I saw how large our prawns were, exaggerated with their head and claws. Although, as large as they were, after you peel off its shell and suck out the juices from the head, there really isn’t much actual prawn meat. We were left with lot more rice, than there were prawns to enjoy with it. Luckily the southern style rice salad with coconut milk and vegetable was plenty flavourful, and great as it. A fragrant, sweet and creamy curry; which once again would have been even better enjoyed with a bowl of rice on the side to maximize the curry.

For flavour I direct you to order the “Chiang Mai rice noodles”. It is served with rice stick and vegetable, and then topped with sesame and spicy soy bean paste. The ideal morsel is one piece of beef to every two rounds of rice cake, then you get zesty and spicy beef and the chewy gum of the sweet rice cake together.

For dessert there is just the one option. Everyone ends with the “fresh coconut meat and pumpkin in coconut milk”. I was intrigued by this one, never having pumpkin in a dessert like this. With the same texture it was very similar to sweet potato in colour and sweetness. Together with the slices of fresh coconut meat this dessert soup has you digging deep and slurping up all that sweet, thick and creamy milk to finish. It was also a great end to the rich meal before, a thoughtful palette refresher.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I once only deemed them just as a place for casual Thai food, staples and basics; however after this dine out set, they are no longer just your standard Thai restaurant. By the sounds of things this might be the direction they are taking for 2018, and it literally looks like a good one. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

URBAN THAI
1119 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P6
604-408-7788
thaihouse.com/urban-thai-bistro

Urban Thai Bistro

“Urban Thai” is part of the “Thai House Group”, traditional Thai cuisine done fast food style, quick and easy at a fair price.

I was invited to a media dinner by Kenny of @hangryhippovancouver, to join he and Grace of @gracecheung604 for dinner. The weather was nice so we enjoyed our multiple course meal on their Yaletown patio.

Having to pass through the interior to get to this outdoor table, I was able to take in their comfortable setting. Rows of black tables flanked by black booth seats and black chairs. The dim light bulbs encased by steel cages furthered the darkness of the place. Thai brass Buddha statues over booths and small iron lanterns along the wall added authenticity. They were definitely intending the space to fill used for dressier occasions.

The following is what we enjoyed, share-style. But first, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The “Deep-fried Boneless chicken wings” were stuffed with shrimp, wild mushrooms, carrots, vermicelli noodles and Thai spice. I like the idea of a heartier wing and marvelled at their ability to stuff each so much. However the wings were extra crispy, and the filling only made things drier, but the side of sweet garlic chilli sauce helped to rectify this.

As for their regular wings they come in your choice of red curry, chilli basil, or sweet & sour. We had the former, sadly they too were on the drier side. I found them too salty, the flavour spicy without actual heat. I didn’t like them alone, but found they gave some extra tang to the rice below.

Their signature “Tiger Prawns fried rice” made a great base for many of the meat and vegetables dishes that needed something to round them out. A light mix of tiger prawns, eggs, onions, cilantro, and green onions; served with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes for some freshness. The rice was as juicy as the succulent shrimp with, extra spice from the chilli.

I really liked the “Boneless Beef with Red Curry”, the photo shows their lunch special serving. The curry was creamy and rich, flavoured on the sweetener side, then further accented by the fragrant coconut rice. Similarly the tender beef that soaked up the sauce, and the sweet coloured pepper tied it all together.

The “Stir-fried fresh noodles” are available in chicken, beef, pork, or mixed seafood. We had the chicken with Thai herbs, fresh chilies, basil, bell peppers, onions, and green beans. I really enjoyed the flavour of this dish, and just wished there were more of the chewy noodles then there were onions, in our serving. I however got plenty of noodles from the dish below.

The “Crispy noodle with mixed vegetable” came in your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or mixed seafood as well. We went with beef seeing as we had chicken above. I really enjoyed the crispy noodles and the sticky sauce that softened them, they held up from first to last bite.

The “Thai style half B.B.Q chicken” comes with a 20-30 minute wait. Sadly, like the other strictly chicken dishes, this too was on the drier side with the need to use sauce for moisture. In this case it was a homemade sweet chili plum sauce.

Chicken with green beans, lime leaves, fresh basil, and bell peppers in spicy sauce. Despite the bold colour, this wasn’t all that tasty or even spicy. A little lack lustre.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I solid place for some quick and easy Thai cuisine. Simple easy. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

URBAN THAI
1119 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P6
604-408-7788
thaihouse.com/urban-thai-bistro
Urban Thai Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ban Chok Dee Thai Cuisine

I like novelty. If you have ever seen my Instagram page or heard me talk, you know I will spend good money to satisfy my need for novel. So I am happy to have discovered “Ban chok dee”, as this place gets me. They know food is more than just what you taste, but also about how your other sense experiences it before it hits your tongue. Taking all this into consideration has made “Ban chok dee” one of my favourite restaurants. However, sadly they aren’t a stone’s throw away.

I don’t often drive to Langley for a restaurant. But as one of the Vancouver Foodster caesar Challenge competitors, I was obligated to take the drive out as a judge for the month long competition. I strategically choose a statutory holiday day for my visit, to avoid the rush hour traffic driving into the city. However what I and the restaurant didn’t expect was the turn out they would get for the very same reason.

We had made reservations, but given the utter chaos of their dining room, due the unexpected number of patrons wanting to dine with them, and the fact that they were short staffed; we were given the entire patio to dine and photograph on, whilst being asked for our patience. With free parking and no where else to be, we took our time and enjoyed their hospitality.

As always, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

We started off with their caesar entry, however had to first wait for everything needed, to craft the most complicated caesar I have ever witnessed the making of, being moved from the kitchen and bar to a table on the patio. But it was well worth the trouble and the wait. To get the explanation behind the cocktail and watch it’s assembly, only made you appreciate it all the more. There was lots of work put into this and they certainly deserved to win the competition as first place for judge’s favourite.

I highly recommend watching the creation of their “TYG Caesar” by clicking the link below.

The “TYG Caesar” is a cocktail inspired by the heat and flavours of Thai style Tom Yum soup. They found a way to represent their culture and their cuisine in this Canadian classic.

There are a few elements to this offering. The first, a “Spiced Bacon Caesar Sphere” made using molecular gastronomy, sprinkled with dried spiced prawns and smoked bacon bits. The process includes taking a liquid and making it into a semi-solid jelly state, before popping it into your mouth to unleash the “bubble” like a wave of flavour and drink.

The drink itself is a mix of chilli and herb infused Absolute Vodka, Maekhong (Thai whiskey), tobacco, horseradish, Worcestershire, black pepper, thai chili sauce, lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, lime leaf, and mixed Caesar spices. The cocktail is mixed together then poured into a bottle, presented with the sphere and a fully garnished glass. This is so that you can fully see and appreciate all the green of the fresh celery and pickled bean, and note the frozen tomato juice sphere and the ice balls frozen with herbs; before covering it all with an emptying pour of the bottle.

And the finishing skewer is just as intricate. Lime, cornichons, chilli pepper, red pepper, green olive, and a crispy shrimp wrapped in noodle. The prawns are from one of their appetizers. Deep fried and marinated jumbo prawn wrapped in crispy yellow noodles.

You are immediately impressed by this show of labour, the amount of work needed just to set it up. Though when it came time to actually start drinking you didn’t know where to begin. The whole display left you feeling overwhelmed, but deliciously so.

Despite the caesar eating like a meal, we then followed it with a full six course meal.

Their “Stuffed chicken wings” are marinated with Thai spices and normally stuffed with sautéed shredded vegetables, vermercilli noodles, egg, ginger, and garlic. However the version we had utilized “rice berry”. A special ingredient they were doing a tasting of as part of their fresh sheet.

“Riceberry” is a newly registered rice variety from Thailand. A deep purple whole grain rice with a soft and palatable after taste. Riceberry has been the most popular brown rice known for health promoting properties. This and the molecular gastronomy in our drink above, was a good tell of the owner and head chef’s dedication to learning and expanding her culinary expertise. More on that later.

The rice was stuffed into a chicken wing, then steamed and deep fried to a golden brown. It is served with a sweet chilli peanut sauce on the side. The rice added substance and a starchy chew. A good contrast for the crispy skinned chicken. The sauce gave your bites a sweet, yet tart and garlicky add on.

The “Chor muang dumplings” came with it as a side. They were a visual treat, set in moulds to shape them like flowers. The colouring of green and purple were achieved through natural food dyes, however I could not taste from what, past their dominant filling. These are traditional Thai dumplings filled with palm sugar, chicken, onion, cilantro, pepper, garlic, roasted peanuts, and aromatic Thai spices. And then drizzled with garlic oil as a final touch. The flavour of the shrimp paste came through with onion as an after note. It wasn’t my favourite, given the chalky texture of the sugar and ground up peanuts married with the perfectly sticky dumpling shell.

“Gaeng kua batel leaf over rice berry”. Scallop with basil and rice berry in a yellow curry made with coconut milk. This was a sublimely creamy curry, but too salty for my liking. Shame, as the flavours were solid and this is the kind of curry you would normally lick your plate clean of. I even liked the texture of the stewed basil and I typically avoid wilted greens. But the scallop was the star of the dish. It was cooked perfectly and deserving of its crowning perch.

The “Tuna tatare” was a little too salty with the smear of soy, and a little too tangy with all the citrus used. Also the edges of the fish itself was a little dry, whereas I wanted more raw and refreshing from the cut.

My guest was most excited about the “Curried noodles (Kai soi chicken)”, under the street food category of their many. Apparently not many places make this and they do it very well here. Chiangmai style egg noodles and curry with tender chicken, cilantro, red onion, green onion, chilli oil and lime. Stacked like a tower with a chicken drum lollipop anchoring the noodles, its sauce is poured at your table, over the dish before you eat. This ensures that the noodles stay as crispy as possible for as long as possible. Although the sauce quickly moistens it, for a nice starchy chewy. The curry is slightly spicy and just a bit sweet.

For dessert we were treated to their tropical twist on a classic: “Coconut creme brûlée”. Tropical and extra creamy from the coconut milk used, and served with a caramelized Bosc pear for a nice soften texture. It was fairly sweet, so having the torched sugar topping was a little overkill.

Most of what we had above was either not on the menu or offered with a slight variation, prompting me to return the next time I was in Langley; for a more everyday look at this popular Thai restaurant. Once again the place was busy, line ups and a wait, even on a Monday. Which made sense, considering most of everything else was closed before 6pm. Luckily I made a reservation and got our group a table for six inside.

On this visit, they were once again competing in a “Vanfoodster” challenge, this time for best chicken wings in the city. However with their head chef having the day off, they were not offering it on the menu today. So we made due with more classic Thai dishes instead.

This time I tried their “Stuffed chicken wings”, the regular way. And I preferred them stuffed with sautéed shredded vegetables, vermicelli noodles, egg, ginger, and garlic instead. It offered the perfect chewy texture to contrast the crispness of the fried chicken skin. And it was even better with the sweet and tangy plum sauce for dipping.

Although my favourite sauce of the meal went to the thick and creamy dish of peanut sauce partnered with the order of “Chicken satay”. Grilled tender, marinated chicken in traditional Thai spices, broiled and served with peanuts and a peanut and cucumber plum sauce.

The “Seasoned lettuce wraps” was a build yourself scoop of minced chicken, beef or pork; stir fried with fresh lime leaves, onion, garlic, spices, and roasted cashews. The mix was a little watery and when brought together on a still wet from the wash leaf. It was a little too watery for what should be crisp from the lettuce and crunchy from the fried noodles and roasted cashews. My guest who ordered it found it just fine and tasty enough, I thought it too spicy for my liking.

The “Sweet and sour stir fry” was exactly as expected with your choice protein between beef, chicken, or pork; sautéed with sweet pineapple, juicy tomatoes, fresh zucchini, crunchy carrots, fragrant green onions, and crispy red and green bell peppers. All generously coated in their thick and syrupy, house made, sweet and sour sauce. I appreciated the larger serving of rice, for the ideal base to something so tasty.

“Gang gong pineapple curry” was a rich and creamy mix of large prawns, pineapples chunks, red and green bell peppers, and fresh basil leaves in a red curry with coconut milk

They of course had a traditional Pad Thai, pan fried rice noodles in a tamarind sauce, with chicken or prawn, egg, tofu, green onions, and bean sprouts, topped with ground peanuts. No complaints from the one who ordered it. It was as excepted; and as a large enough serving to take home leftovers for a second meal.

The “Pad si eu” is stir fried wide rice noodles in oyster sauce with egg, carrot, cabbage, and broccoli; with your choice of chicken, beef, or pork. Plenty of flavour and as expected.

The “Thai fried rice” is fried rice made using Thai spices, egg, onion, red and green bell pepper, and sweet basil. The rice had a texture more soft than crisp. With it I ordered beef, but found it a little dry. I also felt I needed a Main with the rice, as there wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied within. Better as a side than a main.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
There is not much food diversity in Langley compared to Vancouver. One of restaurants at this calibre are rare. So to find such a gem, but to have to drive great distances from Burnaby to it, puts me in a bind. I really appreciate all the work that goes into everything on the menu, the care and love shows. I can see why they are so popular in this community. Possibly my new favourite Thai place to recommend, if not for the commute. I wish they opened up a new location in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings

 

Ban Chok Dee
Douglas Plaza, 20563 Douglas Crescent, Langley BC, V3A4B6
778-278-3088
banchokdee.com
Ban Chok Dee Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Cafe, pad thai eating challenge

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Continuing my tour of all the food challenges in Vancouver, my guest and myself found ourselves at “Thai Cafe” this evening. Here they have the only pad Thai challenge in the city: a heaping 6.5 pound bowl of noodles to finish within 30 minutes. A challenge they were proud to offer, enough to post photographs of past attempts on the exterior window, and they even took our photos (before we dug in) for their Facebook feed.

To skip reading my recap, and instead watch us work our way through the challenge, click the link.

The restaurant isn’t all that decorated. Plenty of seating across dark wood tables arranged in three in isles, and few Thai artifacts gracing the wall. Just as well we would eat in a hurry and leave completely stuffed either way.

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We walked in and were early enough to be the only ones in the restaurant. So we were able to choose our seats. A few tables joined after, with many more option to take their dinner to go. We knew exactly what we wanted so didn’t even bother opening the menu. When we placed our order the sever was a little skeptical of my ability and in my enthusiasm for the challenge. She even attempted to sway me by reassuring me over of the amount of food I was endeavouring on. However, to my larger friend she was only encouraging. She had faith in him all the way until the very end, even to the point that they had prepared for him a winner’s prize. In retrospect rightfully so, I guess.

The challenge comes with rules printed on a piece of paper. It reads that we would have 30 minutes to complete the entirety of the serving of pad Thai. There would be no sharing, but with us each having our own bowl, that would not be a problem. At $30 a bowl you have to finish to win. And if you do, not only is the bowl you just completed free, but you also earn a $30 gift certificate and an invitation to come back to try more of their menu.

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We decided to order some Thai ice teas along with our challenge, to help change the taste and wash things down.

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What came after was an impressive serving of noodles. A heaping mound of full fledge pad Thai. They didn’t cheap out, this came with all the traditional ingredients and even a protein. Rice noodles stir-fried with eggs, chicken, chopped firm tofu, tamarind paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, red chili pepper, and palm sugar. Then topped with crushed peanuts and raw bean sprouts, and julienne green onion and carrots. The various textures were helpful in rejuvenating flavours, once things started becoming stale.

To begin with it was a delicious serving of pad Thai, soften noodles with that tell-a-tale tacky texture that I love. It had the perfect tang of tamarind with plenty of refreshing crisp vegetables, and the hearty crunch of peanuts. But the chicken was an ingredient we could have skipped out on it all together. The poultry was over cooked and therefore dry, it was also an extra thing to have to finish.

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But sadly, anything eaten in excess can quickly turn good to gross. This was the case when I was left with 1/5 of my serving staring back at me. From here I couldn’t go any further without the need to gag. The once delicious flavours had now become monotonous, the texture was numb in my mouth. I was done when I felt it coming back up. My guest faired better, but he too found himself beaten, but sadly with only two full bites remaining; and this is only after the use of some chilli sauce.

At the end we had to count this as a loss. Just as well, as we sat to catch our breath, we discussed not wanting to return, or to even look at pad thai or anything similar, anytime soon.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
In all honesty, if their pad Thai was this good to have us finish this much of it, I could definitely recommend them for some stand up noodles. And for those who can eat, this challenge is a tasty one. As for the rest of the menu or even what else they offer, I will have to return to be able to tell you, but for it and other Thai restaurants, that may be a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THAI CAFE
4160 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2T4
604-299-4525
thaicafe.ca
Thai Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Green Basil Thai

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Who remembers entertainment book coupons? In relatable terms, they are the hard copy version of groupons and other online deal sites. Given the evolving market space and the changing of people’s preference: to not tote around any more than they have to; I was surprised that this book of coupons still existed. Who remembers to check the book and pull out a coupon on their way to dinner? Or who wants to be chokeheld into only eating from participating vendors, in order to get their money’s worth from the book?

Either way, I soon learned that the entertainment book was well alive and still being purchased. My guest had pinched hers from her mother and was now pulling it out in order to find the appropriate place for our dinner tonight.

Many of the restaurants participating I had never heard of, understandably given that those who have discounts in the book rely on it to give their businesses a push. Either way I couldn’t go to any with confidence, so leaned on the support of some prominent Vancouver food bloggers to help us choose. The end result was “Thai Basil”, being essentially the best of the unnotables. They unanimously agreed so I was optimistic going in.

I remember driving past this many times for many years. Located across from the busy Metrotown mall, they must get extra business from that foot traffic alone. And being around for that long must be a good sign, coupon or not.

They are one of many small shops along this stretch of Kingsway. And it wasn’t until I starting walking towards it did I realize that I have been here before, if not a few times.

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The space was cut in two, separated by a shelf of potted plants and traditional Thai figurines. We were given a table to the left of this shelf made wall. We sat close to the bar, facing their orangey red walls. The walls were outfitted with two yellow dome-shaped cut-outs. On those cut-outs held a couple of portraits of traditional Thai deities. They added the feeling of culture to the place. The rest was orange tile and dark brown chairs, the restaurant wasn’t all that decorative outside of the above. But we weren’t disappointed, we got plenty of pageantry from the dishes we ordered: served in hollow out fruit husks.

Our coupon gave us a buy one get free entree deal, with a maximum discount of $14. So essentially you get $14 off your two person meal. If using one, just make sure you present it to your server before you order.

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We started with the “Thai satay”. Like other meat on sticks variations, you had your choice of proteins. But here they gave you a few extra choices to consider. Pork, chicken, beef, lamb, ostrich, or prawns on a stick. I was tempted by the rarity of the ostrich meat, but opted for pork instead. And like other satays, this too came with a side of peanut sauce to dip the meat into. The sauce was the highlight, and most helpful in making us forget how tough and overcooked the pork was. But at least its flavour came with a char. The side that didn’t make sense was the cluster of shredded lettuce shards. We left it untouched. It is more common to have cucumber as a vegetable side and colour contrast. The cucumber would have at least paired well with the dipping sauce.

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As I mentioned we choose our entrees by their photos and the promise of them being served in fruit. Pineapple fried rice in a pineapple is classic. Here they call it “Khao phat sap-bpa-roht”. It is fried rice with onion, green and red pepper, and fresh pineapple chunks. A side of peanuts and pork floss was served on the side, as self selected add ons. We touched neither, and was happy to not have the raisins that the menu advertised included as well. We had our choose of protein here too and went for beef. It was thankfully a lot more tasty and tender than the pork above. The rice was only slightly sweetened a good amount by the pineapple. It was clear that not all of the fruit was used.

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“Haw mok ma phraao” is a red paste curry that uses young coconut meat and milk, and is served in its hollowed out coconut husk. Once again you get to choose your protein. To continue to keep it different, we went with chicken. It was a beautiful and aromatic curry. The highlight was the coconut flesh, it not only added a hint of sweetness, but it added a nice firm texture to the curry. Whereas I could have passed on the wilted texture of the cabbage. A curry I would revisit and enjoyed as much, as leftovers the next day.

The staff were attentive. They offered no chit chat or recommendations. But cups were always full and we were regularly checked in on. We were even asked if our orders had been taken, by two different employees.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was some real good Thai food, so I guess the coupon did its thing. It brought us in with its savings, and the food has wow-ed me into wanting a return trip. Not necessarily the destination for a celebration, but they make a great lunch or date-night spot. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GREEN BASIL
4623 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2B3
604-439-1919
greenbasilthai.com
Green Basil Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bai Bua Thai Cuisine

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We came for their mango rose dessert. I think most people do, after they see a photo of it. Delicate mango slices arranged to form a rose, petal by petal; but more about that later. Though their dinner menu was well worth the visit alone.

They served Thai street food in a contemporary setting. The decor looked more like a cafe, a place more for tea time than dinner. Especially with the wooden shelf of brass cups and unknown ingredients in bottles by the counter.

We were given one of their larger four top tables, despite there being more two tops available, and the restaurant filled to capacity shortly after. Each table was assigned a number, painted on a wooden block. Despite this, the servers had a difficult time delivering plates to the right tables; often over shooting their delivery or missing their mark. Though both servers and patrons alike were friendly and forgiving of it. Everyone worked to sustain this family run, quaint and polite restaurant vibe.

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The entirety of the space looked clean with bleach wood tables and black chairs. The white walls were given some character with stencils. A pattern of flowers, a bunch strung together in various sizes. A few had their petals painted in metallic gold, and the other were left in black and white. The gold matched the glow of the lamps and the varnish of the light fixture above the counter. A hanging chandelier with metal blossoms.

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When having Thai, Thai ice tea is a must for me. The unique caramel orange hue came with ribbons of white. A sweet and creamy taste and texture. This has more milk than most, but I preferred it that way.

My guest had her Thai ice tea with lemon and no ice. The same flavour as above, but more potent without the ice or milk, and the zest of lemon. Both looked very modern in their mason jars.

The menu was an easy to navigate read. White font against a black background, with a lot of photos. This made the choice easy, but a few of the photos were deceiving.

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Like the “Green curry”. The menu showed it as a bold lime green hue. But the shade that came to our table was a muted sickly green. But that visual aside, it tasted delicious. I didn’t waste a drop, taking the curry soup home for lunch the next day. You had your your choice of chicken, beef, or pork for the curry. We had the beef with our green curry paste, Thai herbs, coconut milk, eggplant, green bean, Thai basil, and bamboo shoots. It was a creamy and fragrant mix that was too spicy for my guest, but we requested it mild and I couldn’t get enough.

It was especially good with the side order of rice cooked in coconut milk. So good that I got a serving of it to go with my leftovers as well. Shame that it was not just included with the curry, because they went together so well. It was an add on that required $3 more, $1 more than the regular steamed rice. The $1 for coconut milk was worth it. To enjoy it here, the rice came in a glass jar with lid. Opening the glass a plume of smoke wafted up and warmed your face. It was moist and soaked up all the flavour of the curry like a sponge. I cold have eaten bowls of rice and curry sauce without any of the ingredients, in fact I could go for some now. The vegetables and meat simply added a change of texture. Chewy meat and crisp peppers meet firm bamboo and soften eggplant.

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The “Pad Thai” was classic Thai. We went with prawn because we would have chicken below, it came at a dollar difference. Stir fried Thai rice noodle cooked in tamarind sauce and sugar, with salted radish, egg, chive, bean sprout and ground peanuts. The noodles melted under the weight of your teeth, an enjoyable mash to chew through with the occasional crisp of a beansprouts and crunch of peanuts. It was your standard pad Thai serving, yet better than the others I have had. Almost more authentic.

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By comparison the “Grilled chicken satay” was pretty bland and uninspired. Chicken marinaded in coconut milk, turmeric, garlic, and Thai species. It is served with a peanut dipping sauce, and what they described as a salsa of fresh cucumber and red onion. We found it odd that the appetizer came last. The meat was a pounded slab of white chicken meat. It had the grill marks, but not the wanted char from a thorough grilling. The meat was tough and dry, coated by an irregular Dijon yellow breading. Maybe they only deemed it satay because of the use of a peanut sauce, or maybe this was the Thai version of satay. Either way it was the sauce that held it together.

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And as full as we were, we could not leave without the “Mango sticky rice”, we came here for it after all. It wasn’t as tasty as it was pretty. It was a sweet and savoury mix. Salty from glutinous rice and sweet from the mango, which was actually more tart. I wished the mango was a little more ripe and much sweeter, it would have absolutely elevated the dessert. The pool of milk it sat in helped moistened the rice to a pudding-like mash, the crispy rice sprinkles offered a harder texture. Ultimately, the care and the time that they spent on this was noticed and appreciated. It was worth the time they made us wait for it. Truly worth the $10 cost for the labour intensity of it, but not necessarily its taste.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
We came for the dessert, and weren’t disappointed. A dessert I wouldn’t crave again or necessarily order again, but one I suggest everyone tries at least one. Truly a work of art. The entrees: curry, rice dishes, noodles, and stir fries are what is worth writing about and coming back for. They even do lunch. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BAI BUA
1-2443 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 1Y8
778-379-9699
baibuathaicuisine.com
Bai Bua Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Longtail Kitchen

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There has been much buzz surrounding this place, so I jumped at the opportunity to visit when in New Westminster. “Longtail Kitchen” promises a modern take on Thai street food. In their open kitchen they fuse traditional street food with their modern interpretations, using local ingredients. Their website promised brightly coloured spices and intense flavours in the form of curries, stews, soups and noodles. An exotic break to us, but dishes enjoyed day to day by Thai fishermen, which also plays a part in the origin of their restaurant’s name. “Longtail”, an affectionate name for their fishing boats.

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The restaurant is located at Westminster Quay facing the tranquil waters of the Fraser River. An easy walk past a giant toy solider and row of tug boats. All together an extraordinary scene on today’s cloudy and chilly February day; so I imagine even more so on a warmer and sunnier day, maybe a month away? The scenery made this restaurant quite the setting to have a delicious meal at. A bowl on their outdoor patio with a back drop of blue waters and bluer skies to keep you company. But unfortunately given the temperate wind we opted of the warmth of four walls instead.

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The entrance is through the River Market Food Hall, one of many restaurants calling Westminster Quay its home. Though with its position and its eye catching exterior-an orange font paired with blue crabs outlined in drawing-it certainly stood out. You enter the food hall and take an immediate left. The first thing you notice is the wall dedicated to authentic South East Asian canned and dried goods. A bevy of sauces and seasonings used in their cuisine and available for you to take home today at cost. Fried onions, chilli sauce, fish sauce, and coconut milk. All the basics were covered.

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The room was well lit with the rays from a setting sun. They shone through the wide windows and reflected off the white walls. Facing them earns you a clear view of the water’s edge. Half the room is lined with cork boards. On them photos are pinned, they give you a surrounding view of tropical crystal waters and traditional seafaring vessels. Above them supply shelves were neatly organized. Seating is an assembly of wood tables paired with coloured plastic chairs. A few seats by the window’s bar, more two and four tops scattered around the room, and a large family share style table in the centre of it all.

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You proceed to the counter to place your order and pay. A formality before assuming your bowls and dining at your chosen table. The menu is a lengthy chalkboard listing items under the titles of “snacks, rice dishes, stir-fried noodle, soup noodle; and specials”, that are yet to come. A few additions were highlighted as being “new”.
This was a much more detailed listing than what is offered on their website.

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“Southern turmeric curry of mussels”. We opted not to add prawns for $3 more. The curry was fragrant, a beautiful deep yellow tone with drizzles of oil and coconut milk surrounding the mountain of mussels in shell. The curry was strong, but not enough to hide the taste of the fishy mussels. You could taste the zest, the citrus, and the tangy freshness, with an undertone of heated spice. The side order of steamed rice that came with it, helped to balance out all the flavours as a neutral base. And its drier texture was improved with a generous coating of curry. Curry that was too much, too bold, too rich to enjoy alone.

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“Mama Cheung’s Laksa” was one of the new options. This soupy noodle dish was made with a crab and curry broth, chicken, fish cake, prawns, tofu puffs, herbs, and finished with half a soft boiled egg. Approaching this dish as something I am familiar with, this new item was to my determent. I came in with preconceived notions of what laksa should be, and therefore couldn’t help but to compare it to what I was not getting here. I personally would have preferred the use of vermicelli over their chosen round rice noodles. The latter soaked up most of the sauce and was a slippery bite. Its texture and thickness dominated the dish. Its chewiness hid the thinly pulled chicken, the spongy tofu, and the crispy bean sprouts. The broth was true to what I know laksa to be: flavourful, bold in spices and colour, spicy with the cooling touch of coconut milk. This was my guests favourite of the night.

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“Rad Na with pork and fish cake”, another new menu item. Charred rice noodles, pork, fish cake, mushroom, gailan, and a yellow bean gravy. This was another dish that I expected one way and was therefore slightly disappointed from sight to taste. From its description I didn’t know what to expect. But when the dish was set before us what my eyes saw, my mind thought, did not meet what my tongue tasted. Another twist that was good, but not what I had in mind. Nonetheless this was still my favourite dish of the meal. The charred flavour really came through, a smoky flavour and a crisp texture at the edges of each starchy flat noodle. Each strand fully coated in a thick sweet and salty sauce. A very nice pairing with the rubbery mushrooms and the crunchy greens.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I came in with expectation of the cuisine being brought to us with twists, yet the flavours still caught me off guard. I ordered what was familiar and yet none of it came as how I imagined it. Alas I prefer the originals as I know them to be. But this is no fault of the restaurant and they should not be marred because of my specific tastes. I myself would not choose to come back, but at the same time would not be against a return visit with someone wanting a taste. The food was good and without previous perceptions, some of the best in its category. I would definitely recommend this as the first step for those wanting to try Thai and South East Asian cuisine. A good fusion to bridge the complicated flavour profiles and unique ingredients. Certainly everyone else that filled the room would agree. Don’t deny your cravings.

LONGTAIL KITCHEN
810 Quayside Drive #116, New Westminster BC, V3M6B9
604-553-3855
longtailkitchen.com
Longtail Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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