Often, when I go out for Thai food, I find myself in either a cramped hole-in-the wall joint or a slightly nicer place complete with Thai decor and smell of incense. Imagine a place that serves carefully prepared Thai food on tile plates and in an upscale, modern dining space. This restaurant is Maenam, formerly Gastropod. At first, I was a bit skeptical and waited for some preliminary thoughts about the place before I paid a visit. With a multitude of positive reviews, I knew that it was time. Once again, Rich Guy joined me for lunch. Doesn't this guy have anything better to do but eat? Wait, that's like me calling the kettle black...
Before we walked in, I got my first look at the renamed and rebooted version of Fuel - Refuel. I guess I'll need to give that a try sometime as well, now that their popular sous-vide fried chicken is available anytime. Okay, back to Maenam... Upon entering I was quite pleased with the decor. Simple, modern and inviting, I insisted on a window seat. Not sure if that would've been necessary since the whole place is amply lit. The lunch menu is simple with only a few items for appies and entrees. Prices are actually reasonable considering the location and decor. We decided to try several appies to start including: Chicken Satay, Crispy BC Golden Mantle Oysters and Thai Sausages (this is just crying out for a joke). Presented on tile plates, they were almost impossible to move and pick up. They looked nice; but in reality, not functional. Add to that the sticky table, and things were pretty much immobile, which aided in me spilling half of my soup. Plates aside, the satay were big slices of chicken breast which easily dwarf what we normally expect. They were pretty good being moist and the accompanying dip was just the right combination of sweet, spicy and nutty.
The fried oysters were perfectly cooked with a light tempura batter on the outside. By themselves, they weren't much to look at or anything else. But, combined with the slightly spicy, sweet and "fish saucy" dip, it was quite good. Okay, either we personally don't prefer the Thai sausages (insert joke here), or we just don't get it. Not that it was a bad dish per se; but we just didn't see what was so special about it. The sausage itself was meaty and dense with a nice chili kick to it. The sweet chili sauce was a nice counter balance to the salty and tart sausage. Maybe we just don't like sausages? Er...
We also shared a Muslim Oxtail Soup and boy did it have a lot of flavour. In addition to the spicy kick from the peppers, there was zing and aromatics with every spoonful. Nestled in all the greenery hid tender pieces of oxtail. Too bad I spilled most of the first bowl. I really enjoyed this soup. What's a visit to a Thai restaurant without some Pad Thai? I seem to order this every time and this version was pretty solid. I thought the noodles were a perfect consistency and there was no absence of large shrimp, tofu, egg, sprouts and green onions. There was a definite sweet tamarind flavour to the dish with a slightly spicy undertone. However, my tongue was burning due to the spicy Green Curry Halibut. In my haste of cleaning up my spilled soup, I neglected to take a picture of it! The horror! As mentioned, the green curry was quite spicy and a little sauce went a long way with the supplied bowl of rice. Thank goodness we got some Roti as well, that went well with the curry. I gotta say it was some of the best roti I've had. Crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, it was light and easy to eat.
Overall, our meal at Maenam was enjoyable and the service was solid. Everything we ate resulted in flavour explosions bursting within our mouths. It could be a bit spicy for some people; but we personally like it a bit hot. The food itself was obviously made with care and presented tastefully on those troublesome tiles. If you take the food quality, service, location and ambiance into account, the prices are actually pretty reasonable.
- Flavourful (and spicy) food
- Reasonable prices considering everything
- Nice dining space
- What's with those tile plates?