As we ate at the now defunct Sala Thai (now U & I Thai) on Cambie many years ago, a much smaller Thai restaurant caught our eye from across the street. "Thai Away Home" eh? We wondered what that was all about - a takeout fast food Thai restaurant? I guess we kept wondering for the next 13 years because we never tried it out. Don't get me wrong, we weren't avoiding the place, it just never happened. However, an invite from their social media manager lead to our eventual visit. Consistent with its namesake, the place is mainly takeout with only a few seats (think along the same lines as Hawker's Delight). When we took a look at the menu, the prices looked quite reasonable, in particular, their combos. Taking a peak at the other tables in the place, portion sizes seemed respectable as well. I ended up pulling a Mijune somewhat by ordering 4 dishes plus one appy and one dessert. She is a bad influence for sure!
The first dish to arrive was the Chicken Cashew consisting of stir-fried chicken, vegetables & cashews in a spicy sauce. Okay, to preface my comments, Viv and I love spicy food and our tolerance is quite high. Hence, when we say something isn't spicy enough, it could be plenty for others. With that out of the way, we thought this dish was more sweet than spicy. However, it was pretty good with crisp veggies and tender chicken. When the Chicken Satay showed up, it looked like it had been fried and grilled. A shortcut? Perhaps, but in the end, the chicken was sufficiently moist and meaty with a crispy exterior. The peanut dip was somewhat sweet while not being overbearing. Even before we dug into the Pad Thai, the smell of ketchup filled the air. For those who prefer the tamarind version, you're out of luck. For myself, I can handle either type as long as it tastes good. People have to realize that a restaurant is a business and is most interested in catering to their target market. With that being said, I personally like the tamarind version more, so this was a bit too ketchupy for me. However, the noodles were cooked up nicely with big chunks of fried tofu, shrimp, crisp sprouts, egg and ground peanuts.
Moving onto the curries, we had the Chicken Green Curry first. Immediately, we noticed that the coconut milk had slightly separated. This was probably the result of adding it in when the temperature was too high. Despite this, it did not affect the end product. It was more of an aesthetic issue. The green curry had a nice aromatic coconut milk consistency where it wasn't too thick nor too thin. We really got a sense of the shrimp paste along with a slight hint of heat. The eggplant slices were oil-blanched perfectly where they retained their shape while being super tender. The chicken was slightly on the drier side, yet was not tough to eat. The Beef Penang Curry was advertised as the spiciest of the available curries and it did exhibit a touch of heat. Again, our tolerance to spice should be taken into account. What we consider mild may be spicy to some. Otherwise, the flavour profile of the dish was fine as it was neither too sweet nor bland. The beef was not super tender, yet it wasn't chewy either. This was fine because we weren't eating a Chinese dish (where the meat would've been baking-soda'd to death).
Lastly, we noticed some posters plastered on the walls advertising the Sticky Rice & Mango dessert. We gave it a shot and it was mosty good. The tart mango was fresh and went well with the sweeten coconut milk. However, the sticky rice seemed to be rushed in its preparation. Therefore, it was dry and hard. In the end, Viv still liked the dessert for the flavour more than anything else. Now, from reading this blog post, you might get the sense we were being a bit picky. Yes, it's true. Hey, we eat a lot of Asian food, we can't help it. But, Viv and I both agreed that Thai Away Home serves its target clientele successfully with reasonable prices, decent portions and unoffensive food. Sure, there are some shortcuts taken, yet I don't think the steady stream of customers (while we were there) really minded it at all. *This meal was comped*
- Good portions
- Friendly people
- There are some shortcuts taken (but forgivable given the type of operation)