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Don’t let its little cafe look fool you. Not just a whole in the wall, this seemed to be the community’s go to for authentic Thai cuisine. The place was certainly busy. Pretty unspectacular on the exterior, a black awning with its name in yellow script; it almost blended into the background of a street lined with tiny shops and other one of cafes and diners such as this one.

Inside the restaurant was longer than it was wide. Right by the door way sat a lone chair available for anyone to sit should they require a wait. Beside it a shelf of complimentary newspapers and free magazines. A stretch of two top tables reached all the way to the back of the room. And on this Tuesday evening each was seated. The room was filled with a unison hum of constant conversation and cutlery hitting share plates. Intermingled was the chime of the phone ringing and the sounds of folks coming in and going out with take out orders. I could hardly hear the spa-like calming melody playing in the background or the words coming out of my guest’s mouth, spoken in her regular tone. Their customers were patrons of all ages and folks from all walks of life. The community seemed to come in making this their destination. And to think I only choose this place based on what yielded from my search of “Thai restaurants in North Burnaby”. Their’s was the first link that popped up.

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The concrete walls were painted in a dull yellow, separated in half by a panel adding contrast and interest. Below the floors were a newly set hard wood veneer that sounded with each step you took. Large posters hung representing Thailand, they spoke to the restaurant’s food and their unique culture. Perfectly composed and coloured photographs looked like they could be used in a travel ad for tourism Thailand. We were given a seat right by the window. Our table one of the three that was visible from the outside. They were tiled in squares of soft blue and off white, with matching white chairs. A contrast from the varnished wood finish and dark colours of all the others.

The menus were a lime green, labeled as “Menu'”. I wasn’t sure what the extra apostrophe meant. All the bounded pages were protected in plastic sheets. A list of traditional Thai items arranged by appetizers, grill, soup, salad, curries, Thai wok fried, seafood, fried rice, and variety of Thai noodles. Each numbered and labeled in its traditional Thai phonetics, with a healthy description in English underneath. A legend listed a green “V” to mean it was vegetarian or can be prepared vegetarian, and a red “S” indicated your ability to request your own spiciness level: mild, medium, hot, and extra hot. The more popular items included images.

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There is nothing like Thai ice tea. Tea and cream, bitter and sweet. The bold orange of the brew intertwined with ribbons of white cream. A taste I can’t describe, but feel would make an amazing ice cream flavour. Has that been done already?

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“Mussamun Curry”. Choose from chicken, beef, or pork as your main protein. We went with chicken. Made with a mild mussamun curry paste, the aromatic paste is cooked with coconut milk, tamarind juice, pineapple, potatoes and peanuts. Looking at it I don’t know if I want to eat it. It certainly could use more colour. Maybe some more vegetables to neutralize all the yellow from the potato, pineapple, and peanuts. Though despite its washed out complexion and bland first impression, it was pretty tasty. Tender chicken and grainy potato, in a milky broth. The sauce was best part, it was where all its flavour came from. Not too spicy for a curry, or rather no spice. We did ask for mild, though ended up taking our server’s suggestion for allowing a little heat.

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“Pad Thai Goong”. We went with tiger prawns over chicken or tofu. As one of the most common Thai dishes this made for a good judge of their cuisine overall. Stir fried thin rice noodles in a tamarind sauce with tofu, salted radish, egg, chives, bean sprouts and ground peanuts. The noodles were overcooked, sticky they were bonded together in chunks as apposed to being separate strands. Their solid nature made it hard to incorporate the raw bean spouts on the side, or the six pieces of prawn with tails attached sitting on top. Overall we were disappointed by the dish. The sauce was too sweet, and here we preferred more heat.

The staff working the front looked like a mother and daughter team, or aunt and niece. Dressed in regular clothes with patterned aprons in Thai prints over them. They gave you the feeling of being served as a guest in their own home. Polite and soft spoken they assisted with patience and a sincere want to help. Several times we were approached with pitchers offering refills on water. Even the chef came out of the kitchen to serve us our dishes in his baseball cap. The bill came to us with the offer for us to have some tamarind candy. A similar sweet flavour as the tamarind rolls they sold in plastic containers at the counter. Odd note, the washroom was a unisex single stall. Clean for its age with some of the softest toilet paper I have ever had.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was decent, but nothing I needed to access further during a follow up visit, or wanted to revisit again as leftovers. Not my first choice for Thai, but nothing I would avoid if in the neighbouring area. Don’t deny your cravings.

CHAD THAI
4010 E Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C2J3
chadthai.ca
604-677-1489
Chad Thai on Urbanspoon