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Maenam – Vancouver – Kitsilano

August 6th, 2009 · No Comments

So there is quite a buzz around the new Thai place opened by Chef Angus to replace his previous restaurant, Gastropod. It is in the same place as the old Gastropod and although the decor has a little more asian flair and a little warmer – it does not look much different.

The food is however very different – upscale thai. Apparently Chef Angus and his sous chef have both done training at Nahm in London – the only Thai Michelin-star rated restaurant in all of Europe. Our favorite dishes were the oxtail soup (although slightly spicy for those not used to it, I quite liked it – it was a rich broth filled with meaty and leafy goodness) and the paenaeng beef (a rich creamy thai curry with chunks of tender beef). David Thompsons’ 3 flavour fish was also a nice balance of salty, sour, and sweet. The smoked duck red curry didn’t quite do it for me there was an odd indian curry flavour mixed in with it or maybe it was the smoky flavour. That being said, the chunks of duck were tender and other reviewers have really liked this dish. I am a fan of roti and the roti was pretty good. The crispy BC golden mantle oysters consisted of about 5 lightly breaded and fried oysters served with Nahm Jim sauce which was an interesting balance of hot, sour, salty, sweet (the flavours which epitomize thai food). For dessert we tried the dark chocolate pot de creme with sea salt, cocoa nib tuile and tamarind semifreddo – while the semifreddo was interesting , I felt the chocolate wasn’t rich or dark enough for my tastes but maybe that is just me.

The service was excellent. Although the restaurant was quite busy, our water glasses were kept filled and we were served promptly. The cocktail menu is quite interesting and the siam sun ray (wyborowa vodka, lime, chile, ginger infused toasted coconut juice, soda) was a spicy starter to the meal. Apparently the Maenam (havanah blanco rum, pineapple, apple, thai basil, falernum) also comes highly recommended. Or if you want at taste of thai beer, there are bottles of Singha available.

Overall, it was worth trying. Would I go back again – not sure. It was pretty expensive for thai food although I realize that you do pay more for the upscale surroundings, service and likely better quality ingredients, particularly the meat. In addition, portions were not large although some of the dishes are so rich you probably couldn’t eat large portions of it. Plus they charge for rice and roti although $3 does buy you a reasonable amount of rice (it was enough for the 3 of us). I can see how it would appeal to some but, at least for me, I am not sure the cost vs quality equation works out. If you are look for an upscale place to introduce some less adventurous eaters to thai food or if you are simply bored of the usual fusion or west coast cuisine offered at upscale places around town, then this might be your place.

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Update – we just went back to the restaurant recently and it is still as busy as ever so reservations are highly recommended. In addition, there are a few new additions to the menu. We tried the 8 spice fish which was actually very good . The pad thai was appropriately spicy but if you don’t like too hot make sure you avoid the extra sprinkling of chilies on the side which the waitress did point out but which can easily get incorporated in the dish while you are serving yourself some noodles. The beef green curry was a small yet rich concoction of very tender beef, fresh bamboo (some of which however was a little bit tough) and real thai eggplants ( little green balls of eggplant which are a more bitter than the usual japanese eggplant so commonly used here in this type of dish). It didn’t seem like a lot of food but the food is rich and spicy so it quickly filled us up. To finish the meal off we tried the banana fritter with sesame ice cream – I felt the banana was a little under ripe but the sesame ice cream was nice (if you like that flavour). The service was attentive and relatively quick. This would be a good casual date plate or a place to share food with a bunch of friends in a more happening place than your usual thai restaurant. Still I have to say I favour non-fusion/upscale thai food at more reasonable prices if I need a real thai food fix.

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Maenam on Urbanspoon

1938 w 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6J1M5, Canada
(604) 730-5579
Hours: Tue-Sat 12pm-2:30pm, 5pm-1am
Reservation: highly recommended
Cost: expensive thai food although it is “upscale” and sort of fusion

Tags: Asian · cocktails · Vancouver

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