*Restaurant is now closed*
Is it just me or are food bloggers roaming around in packs from restaurant to restaurant? Could it be safer in numbers? Is it a pack mentality? Well, it certainly takes away the awkwardness of taking pictures when you have many more people doing the same thing. So once again, we have a few of us, armed with our DSLRs, meeting for another meal. The destination this time around was thanks to Karl. In the former location of Royal City Cafe comes Royal City Thai. Yah, I know, not very creative with the name; but it gets the point across. Of course New West is not the hot bed of Thai food; yet there can be gems found here and there, such as Lhy Thai in Burnaby. Also joining us were Kim, Jessica & Mark.
I brought my daughter with me this time since Viv was busy. I didn't bother bringing my son because he doesn't even eat hamburgers, let alone Thai food. For a Sunday morning, I struggled mightily to find a parking spot on Columbia. I must've circled quite a few times before I got one right in front. So even before we got down to ordering the food, I did my usual spiel about how good Kim's pictures are. Once and for all, he wanted to stop my endless gibberish about his pictures. So he proposed that we switch cameras for today's meal. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive since the usual questions bothered me, such as: what if the pictures I take suck? Or what if they are good? Do I even know how to use his camera?
Well, I must add that Kim was at a disadvantage since my camera settings in manual mode are a mess since I don't really fool around with them much. Kim's camera was already setup and all I needed to do was take the picture. Furthermore, he has a much more superior lens. With that out of the way, we all decided to try their all-you-can-eat lunch for $12.95. Looking over the menu, it reminded me of Thai House and their AYCE that they no longer offer. The server asked us what we wanted to order and unanimously we all replied, "Everything!" And one by one, everything arrived. We started with the Tom Kah Gai. This for me was a bit average. It was a bit bland with neither a strong coconut or spice flavour to it. I realize that they do not want to make it too bold since it might alienate some customers. Thus, if you like it spicy, just ask. That's what we did for the second round of food.
Next up was an order of Calamari. This was not bad with soft squid in crispy breading. The dipping sauce was pretty standard sweet chili. In the form of more fried goodness, we go the obligatory Spring Rolls. They were crunchy and filled with veggies and vermicelli. What can I say? They were spring rolls. I wasn't that fond of the diluted sweet and sour sauce. I dipped it in the sweet chili instead. The sweet chili sauce accompanied the Fried Chicken Wings as well. It went well with the crispy wings. The fried appies were decent; but we all know that the main event are the curries and stir fries. The first to arrive was the Chicken Red Curry. It was quite pleasant if one was looking for a mild curry. Let me rephrase that, if one was looking for a coconut sauce. Yah, once again, to appeal to the masses, this tasted watered down without much in the way of spice. Our bad for not asking at the start of the meal. Otherwise, it was alright with chicken, bamboo shoots, peppers, onions and basil.
Next up was the Basil Beef Stirfry. I know this is AYCE; but there was a serious lack of meat in this dish. Try looking for it, it's like "Where is the Beef?" Once again, this was pretty decent with fresh veggies and tender beef. And again, not much spice to speak of. However, in the second round of food, this dish was much spicier which made it ultimately better. On a personal note, I could've eaten spicier. Although that would've put the flavour profile of the dish into an unbalanced state, which some people may not like. That once again explains the blandness of the dish - to not alienate the majority of people who do not eat that spicy.
Next up was the Pork Yellow Curry. It was slightly more spicy than the red curry. Furthermore, I felt that the meatiness of the pork added more depth to the dish. Somehow I find chicken to be a bit bland and it really doesn't enhance a dish. On that note, I still like the texture of chicken over pork and beef when it comes to curry. I guess you really can't have the best of both worlds. This curry was predominantly sweet with underlying heat. One particular dish I didn't care about was the Chili Pepper Fried Rice with vegetables. It's partially due to the fact that fried rice was probably the lest interesting dish other than the white rice. It was a tad dry with not a whole lot of flavour. I had to put some curry on it to liven it up. I did like the texture of the veggies, they were still a bit crunchy.
Continuing with more stir fries was the Gai Pad Namman which consisted of snow peas, peppers, pineapple and chicken in a black bean sauce. As expected with this dish, it was not spicy. Not much to really complain about it. The veggies were crisp, chicken was tender and an interesting sweetness provided by the pineapples. As you can see from the picture, the whole dish appeared quite glossy which is from the coating of oil on all of the ingredients. I guess that helps the food slide down your esophagus?
The last curry to arrive was the Beef Green Curry. Somehow, this one had a lot of beef in it. Maybe that's where the beef is? I not sure if my taste buds tricked me or not; but I found this curry to be the mildest of all (which shouldn't be the case). Not really all that spicy nor much coconut flavour, I found this one almost bland. However, I did like the pieces of tender beef and eggplant. It's interesting that the AYCE menu did not have the ever-popular Pad Thai. Rather, there was Pad See Ew available instead. This is nothing remotely close to Pad Thai since the flavouring is predominantly soy sauce rather than tamarind. Furthermore, there are veggies in the form of broccoli, baby corn and carrots in this version. Although we like our rice noodles al dente, this one was bordering on uncooked. But I really didn't seem to mind it that much, much better than mushy. The second time around for this dish, it was significantly spicier and the noodles were a bit softer.
In a nutshell, my initial reaction was that both the menu and food was very similar to Thai House (especially seeing how both AYCE menus are alike). Now, they can either take that as a compliment or an insult. However, it really depends on expectations and the clientele. For people who crave spicy, flavourful Thai food, the normal iterations of each dish are quite conservative (like Thai House). Not necessarily a bad thing considering where it is located and the majority of their customers will not want tongue-burning food.
- Food is decent for its location
- Nice decor and wide open seating
- Friendly staff and efficient service
- Food is on the safer side of things, although you can request to have it spicier
- Reminds me of Thai House (can be a compliment if that's what you're looking for)