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Looking for traditional thai in Vancouver (closer to downtown the better)

I just returned from Vegas and had an unreal meal at Lotus of Siam. I have only been to Salathai and Urban Thai in Vancouver and they don't even come close. Can't stop thinking about how good this food was and am trying to find something sort of close to it. It was traditional and they had a great wine list too. Vancouver is ideal but if it's excellent I am willing to travel to the burbs!

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  1. Personally, I don't think you'll get Thai here that's Lotus of Siam quality. Even Thai that's three steps down LOS is hard to find. I haven't really had good Thai here in Vancouver. Hope somebody can post some recs here, because I sure want a go-to Thai place.

    13 Replies
    1. re: _js_

      I think the closest might be in Seattle or Portland. Maenam (if you don't mind the toned down flavours) is your best bet. Some of the dishes are quite good, but some just don't taste right. Their pad thai is mixed - great chewy noodles, but the sauce and condiments need more punch. This city just doesn't have enough Thai people to keep these restaurants on the straight and narrow.

      1. re: fmed

        I wanted to like Maenam because of Angus An's pedigree, but the only time we were there, I was served a horrible pad thai. The flavours were toned down, which would have been forgiveable, but the noodles were a gloopy mess of a mass, all stuck together. The noodles weren't cooked properly at all: some strands were still hard. I also had the halibut green curry which was advertised as spicy and it was indeed spicy but it lacked nuance. There were maybe 5 or 6 halibut "bits" -- they don't even qualify as pieces -- in the bowl for a grand total of $14. Of course, it could have been an off day for them, and I'm willing to give them another try.

        -----
        Maenam
        1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

        1. re: _js_

          That pad thai sounds sub-standard for many "Thai" places in town, let alone Maenam. If it happens again (at Maenam) God forbid, I suggest you complain to management.

          -----
          Maenam
          1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

        2. re: fmed

          Finally tried it and was underwhelmed. We had a large party so had the chef's menu. Started with clams in a very nice broth which would have gone nicely with the rice had they brought some out with it. Also enjoyed the papaya salad. The cornish game hen was given a just ok (I didn't try it). The pad thai, haiibut green curry, ling cod, octopus, roti and rice came out together. Found the pad thai and green curry to be mushy and kind of on the bland side. The ling cod had a sweet bbq tasting sauce that was also quite bland and didn't go well with this type of fish. I didn't try the octopus but this was the stand out dish for the rest of the group. I found the clams to be the best of what we had and I am not a clam person. I would give the meal an overall ok/good but I probably wouldn't go back because I prefer stronger spicier flavours when I eat Thai food.

          1. re: selena03

            I tried Thai Basil based on Tana's (Cheap Appetite) recommendation of their Pad Grapow http://cheapappetite.com/2009/08/02/b...

            I gotta say - it was excellent. It is a home-style dish. Very authentic tasting - stronger, spicier, fishier, saltier than any thai food I've had here in a very long time....but still quite nuanced with the Grapow adding a nice licorice-y, herbal note. The side of prik nam pla was there if you want even more Thai flavour.

            I think that Maenam may be attempting to cater to the demographics and palates over on the West side and toning down their dishes significantly. Adding a side of prik nam pla might help those who want it to taste more like Thai food.

             
            1. re: fmed

              I enjoyed Thai Basil as well but haven't had the chance to try it more than once. We usually dine out with friends and the lack of space/wine list makes it hard to go in a group. I think I will have to try it again but as takeout.

              1. re: fmed

                Doh, poor westside palate. Dissed again...

                  1. re: fmed

                    It's OK, I'm just irritated because I really wish I liked Maenam's food more.

                    1. re: waver

                      I'm dissed too, waver. But my west side palate craves more prik ;-).

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          Well, I could try some poo jokes instead, but as many of you that attend our Chowdowns know, I am allergic to poo.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            You chowdown people scare me...

        3. Apparently Thai Basil in downtown (Thurlow near Davie) is authentic, according to this local blogger who is Thai himself:

          http://cheapappetite.com/2009/08/02/b...

          http://cheapappetite.com/2010/04/26/t...

          9 Replies
          1. re: LotusRapper

            I forgot about these posts from CA...thanks for the reminder. Must check this place out very soon.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Thanks for the info-I'll be nearby/in the hood for a few lunches next week-maybe I'll slouch by.

              1. re: LotusRapper

                Thanks LR, I will have to try Thai Basil...funny I didn't even realize how much I loved thai food until LOS...

                ...I never order pad thai anywhere-it's always a dissapointment....

                Fmed-do you have any recs for standout Thai places in Seattle? I go there a few times a year to shop so would love to try a place you are fond of.

                  1. re: selena03

                    Noodle Boat in Issaquah is my favorite of the 20+ places I've tried in the Seattle area. I think it's better than anything you can find in Vancouver (altho I haven't tried Thai Basil yet), but cannot touch LOS.

                    1. re: zduerr

                      ..or Sripraphai.

                      I was speaking in general terms about Seattle (as it has way more Thai places than Vancouver and has a higher population of Thai.) I can vouch for Pok Pok in Portland, however - mostly Northern/Issan (and if you don't mind Thai food cooked by a non-Thai).

                      1. re: fmed

                        I decided to head to Thai Basil for lunch today and had a great meal. The staff is all Thai, and very friendly. I ordered the Nua Nam Tok, Grilled Beef Salad, the Eggplant and Basil w/ Chicken, and a side of jasmine brown rice. The flavors were spot on, even the level of spice was much hotter than your average place in Vancouver (I made no special requests for level of heat). The chicken was very tender, unlike the dried up mess you usually end up with in a stir-fry dish. The group next to me ordered the green curry special which looked and smelled fantastic. Quality of the ingredients weren't top notch, but at $8 an entree I couldn't complain. I would absolutely eat here again, which brings my "will return" list of Thai places in Vancouver to a whopping total of...2

                        Fmed (or anyone else), try the duck salad next time you are lucky enough to eat at Sripraphai. There is also a pork dish w/ green bean that is unbelievable. Forgot the name but it's near the back of the menu.

                        1. re: zduerr

                          Thanks for the intel on Thai Basil. Now do tell what is the other Thai resto you would revisit?

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Although I wasn't high on them at first, Maenam is getting better and better. The grilled cornish hen and the thai sausages are a must, and I've found the new entrees they have been putting on the menu are better than the ones they replace. Most recently, the "winter melon and fraser valley duck broth" and the "stir-fried siamese water spinach with crispy pork" were very good.

                            I agree with others that the pad thai is quite poor, and I'm not impressed with any of their curry based dishes (I've tried 2 or 3). It seems the less a maenam dish resembles traditional thai food, the better it is.

                1. Although not close to downtown, Baan Wasana in Kerrisdale is a place I regularly go to for Pad Thai.

                  http://www.baanwasana.com/ and http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180111...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mh0408

                    i like their pad thai, and it's pretty good. could say authentic. :-P

                  2. Have you tried Montri's? Their Tom Yung is the best of any place in Vancity, and I've tried for many a year to duplicate it without success. Their special prawn curry on a bed of spinach (back page of the menu) is also fantastic. I've never had a bad meal there. Maenam is decent but their portions are far too small for the price.

                    -----
                    Maenam
                    1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jcolvin

                      Thanks for the rec...I finally had a chance to try Montri's and it was really good. I will definitely be back next time I have a craving for Thai.

                      1. re: selena03

                        Glad to hear that Montri's is back on form. Will have to give it a go again.

                    2. After all this talk about Thai food, we checked out Thai Basil and we loved it! I requested their authentic thai Pad Thai (not the Canadianized one on their menu that has ketchup) and it tasted pretty damn good! I'm no expert of thai food, but if the food starts tasting too much like cantonese food...that's just not good! But here the flavours were very well-balanced between sweet, spicy and savoury. I asked for "thai hot" but to me tasted more like medium, but still great. I love the tiny flat dried shrimp that they use, and my wife detected some finely chopped picked radish. Would definitely order their thai Pad Thai again!

                      We also got their Eggplant and Basil with Beef. Also well-cooked. We asked for no onions in anything, so the pics below reflect that.

                      http://www.thaibasilvancouver.ca/

                      Unfortunately they were out of the thai holy basil yesterday, so we didn't get to try their Pad Grapow (talked about here http://cheapappetite.com/2009/08/02/b... ). The girl there said they get the basil every Monday/Tuesday, but lately with the unstable political situation in Thailand, it's been harder to get it flown in.

                      Check them out if you haven't already!

                       
                       
                       
                      3 Replies
                      1. re: flowbee

                        Awesome. Looked at the menu - prices look good too.

                        1. re: flowbee

                          Finally got a chance to try out the three dishes recommended by Tana on Cheap Appetite (see also fmed's and flowbee's posts above) at Thai Basil with a la carte and we were both impressed. I think we accidentally got the Canadian pad thai because I forgot to add the magic words Krung Thep, but it was still vying for top spot with Bob Likes Thai and Bo Laksa King's versions for me. The pad krapow and pad kee mao were both big winners for me. The deep fried basil and the whole stalks of green peppercorn really added to the dishes. I would be here all the time if I lived a bit closer. As it is, I can see some over the bridge takeaway jaunts in my future.

                           
                           
                           
                          1. re: grayelf

                            On my way home from Chinatown Night Market, nabbed *free* parking on Burnaby and skated in to Thai Basil at 9:25 pm for a last minute takeout order (they close at 9:30). Since I was still full from refuel burg at 3ish, just got the grapow. Even after stewing in my car from the West End to Kits, the egg yolk was still perfectly runny, and the dish was as good as I remembered (did have it once in between). The SO had a few bites and was equally impressed. Full on spice/heat level without asking (I guess if you order it they assume you know how it will come) and lots of holy basil for the licorice-y taste. I wish it was easier to get at this place by car... need to go back for the pad kee mao soonest as I crave the green peppercorns.