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Sep 30, 2010 11:31 AM

Bob Likes Thai Food and so do I (Vancouver)

Me, a la carte and her SO TOFTT on Tuesday night, testing the waters at this six-day-old, differently-named Thai resto at 3755 Main near 21st. It replaces Temple of Shanghai. Space is open and spare, with fairly blinding fluorescent lights. The owner, Tai, is a Thai national who worked in the film industry while dreaming about owning a restaurant where he could share his love of his homeland's cuisine. He only has 18 seats right now (COV's rules are weird on this) and no liquor licence (ditto) but we were all impressed enough by his early offerings to vow to return, especially for takeout as it is convenient for the a la cartes.

Most expensive item on the menu (see pic) is $8.50 and prices are lower than the other Thai places in town. We overordered to try more dishes and had a big ol' bag of leftovers. Our sample of the brief menu was as follows: papaya salad (tasty but a hair sweet, nice fruit), tom kha gai (one of my favourite dishes, rich without being cloying, with a little hit of chile that I'm not used to but liked), pork pad ka pow (with thinly sliced rounds of green beans, this was the other fave for me, rather unexpectedly), pad thai (well made with tamarind, I didn't feel the urge to order more limes as I usually do) and finally panang beef (it's the second soup like pic, I found it too sweet and rich but Tai says that's how they eat it in Thailand). He also says they can whip up Thai-style condiments if you ask -- he doesn't like to make them ahead as they don't stay fresh. Rice was nice and hot which I appreciated. We paid $18 each tax and tip in for this repast.

Of note, they are currently open 7 days a week till 9 pm. The phone numbers listed on line are wrong, with one being completely incorrect and the other their home listing.

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  1. The Pad Thai looks delicious!

    1. Thanks for the report, GE. Food looks yum.

      Is Sawasdee still around ?

      The Temple is gone ?? ..... I've been wondering how they stay afloat with local rent increases. They certainly had potential, but didn't know how to market themselves (or clean up their joint, literally). With Long's not far away and now Shanghai Village on Cambie, it might have simply been a slow death for them. Wonder if they'll pop up somewhere else, like say at an Asian mall food court ? :-)

      Shanghai Village
      3250 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W4, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: LotusRapper

        Welcome. I am cautiously optimistic. May warrant a Chowdown for special dishes...

        Sawasdee is still there AFAIK. I used to really enjoy many of their dishes but things have gone downhill it seems. Still one server there who deserves the highest award in the land though.

        1. re: grayelf

          Someone told me years ago that Sawasdee was the very first Thai resto in Vancouver. Wonder if anyone knows of that.

          1. re: LotusRapper

            There may have been others before but they disappeared fast.

            Sawasdee was certainly the first to make no concessions for timid Euro-palates and they garnered a lot of positive press for it.

      2. Went back for dinner this past weekend, lured by the promise of good food. We ordered repeats of many of the same dishes that we’d had with Grayelf: papaya salad, pad thai, pork pad ka pow, and also tried the fish cakes. Since Tai had told us on our previous visit that Bob’s makes everything from scratch, we requested that our food be made less sweet and more spicy, and the results suited our tastes wonderfully. The papaya salad was tangy and crunchy, with a hint of heat, while the tamarind flavour came through on the pad thai. I could have done with more chilies (I can always do with more chilies) in the pork pad ka pow, but Mr. a la carte thought it plenty fiery. The fish cakes didn’t do much for me, both in terms of texture and taste but the rest of the food more than made up for this lack. The winner for me was the pad see yew, which is not officially on the menu at present. When Judith suggested it, I balked, overcome with visions of soggy noodles and over cooked gai lan, drenched in a heavy (and usually sickeningly sweet) oyster-based sauce. Not this time. Bob’s version was dryish, with crunchy gai lan and perfectly cooked noodles with a hint of “wok hei.” I would have loved a bit more gai lan (I always love more gai lan) but my guess it that we probably used up the last bit left, since it was an impromptu offer. As promised, Tai whipped up a little bowl of fish sauce with sliced chillies, garlic and lime which complemented both noodle dishes beautifully. I think we will return often.

        P.S. I think their phone issues have been fixed.

        1. How does it compare to Green Basil off Davie St. Grayelf, would you recommend a mini down? I'd be interested in volunteering my belly.

          Agree with Sawasdee. it's taken a turn for the worse since a few years ago.

          6 Replies
          1. re: betterthanbourdain

            a la, I'm iffy on fish cakes too, they seem kinda rubbery often. How does Tai's version compare with Bo's which is also Thai?

            We went again last night and didn't request any heat/taste adjustments. The beef salad ($7.50) was exemplary, the chicken curry subtle and not too rich though I'da liked the eggplant cooked a wee bit more. Papaya salad was good again though I'd ask for it a hair less sweet next time, same with the tom yam goong. The prawns are uniformly good with no javex flavour here which is a plus. Pad thai was as good or better than last visit. We had two apps, a large soup and two mains plus two portions of rice for $45 before tip. And we couldn't quite finish it all among three of us, so good value. Tai is up for a special Chowdown here if we request it, possibly with some Northern Thai influenced dishes (he is a Northern Thai himself).

            Alas, I have yet to make it to Thai Basil, though I hope to go right at 5 pm this Friday to try the krapow, keemao and pad thai there before a 7 pm screening...

            1. re: grayelf

              I'm up for a chowdown...and definitely if we can convince him that Northern Thai is the way to go. (Especially here in Vancouver where mediocre Bangkok Thai food abounds).

              1. re: grayelf

                Haven't had the Bo-cakes, but kinda rubbery describes the fish cakes we had at Bob's perfectly. Haven't made it to Thai Basil either, but am up for a nano down on Friday, if you are...

                1. re: À la carte

                  Rubbery fish cakes and fish balls are "normal." I grew up with this stuff and ate it as streetfood in Asia and they are usually rubbery.

                  1. re: fmed

                    still iso nice balls. imho, cant compare balls here vs in asia..
                    i agree that balls in asia can be rubbery. at least the commercial ones.

                    but alas there are some stalls that make their own balls with better technique.
                    the results are balls with texture and flavor i have yet to find in N America.
                    possibly due the variance in ingredients, labour and experience. could just be the difference in the tap water... :-D

                  2. re: À la carte

                    Though Bo's are a bit rubbery, I've liked them both times I've had 'em. Funnily enough I wasn't partial to his shrimp ones, and I loves me some shrimp.

                    A la, I'll pm you on Ning...

              2. I was here tonight. I had the pad thai and the eggplant grapow. Both were very good and authentic. Just the right balace chili-heat, sour, salt and pungency. I had a long chat with Tai (the owner who is from Northern Thailand) about Thai food. He seems sincere in wanting to serve it authentically. So good news for Main St!