Here we go again... Eating with Mijune. Some would think that I'm a lucky guy - pretty lady, lots of food and great banter. However, be careful what you wish for. The byproduct generally involves bloating, discomfort and an increasing waistline. That's right. Mijune is a pusher. A pusher of food that is. "No no, I'm really full, I can't eat another bite". "Oh c'mon, you can do it! Let's order 10 desserts!". It's a death wish I tell ya. I'd have better luck avoiding drug dealers on Hastings more than I could say no to Mijune. So there we were. At Chad Thai. Looking over the menu. She wanted to get everything. Oh my poor stomach...
To start things off, we had the Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) consisting of shredded green papaya and carrot with lime and tamarind juice, dried shrimps, green beans, tomatoes, fresh chili and peanuts. Right off the bat, the spice level was to our liking. No wimpy flavours here. However, the heat was just enough that it worked well with the other components such as the tartness of the lime and tamarind, saltiness of the dried shrimp and crunch of the peanuts. The really large dried shrimp and hint of fish sauce provided a nice bite as well. Up next was another classic Thai salad being the Larb or Laap (as on their menu). This version was made up of ground pork with lime juice, red onions, green onions, coriander, ground chili and pounded roasted rice. There was a choice between pork and chicken where pork won hands down. For me, chicken ends up being dry and bland. Due to the cooking process associated with this salad, the ground pork was not exactly moist, but it was flavourful. This was due to the good use of crushed chilis which provided a good level of heat. Again, this was balanced by the use of salty fish sauce, acidity of lime and sugar.
One item we've never tried before was their Tom Yum Noodle. We've had Tom Yum soup many times, yet never as a soup noodle. This was a Laksa/Pho hybrid which really worked. The aromatic coconut milk combined with a good level of spice and fish sauce made for a party in my mouth. Add in plenty of tender chicken pieces and al dente noodles, we went for seconds immediately after we finished our initial bowls. Onto a curry item, we had the Beef Penang Curry. It was comprised of peppers, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil and ground peanuts in panang curry with coconut milk. Compared to some of the other dishes, this was relatively mild. However, beyond the initial coconut milk hit, there was a underlying spice that hit at the end. The beef was both plentiful and tender.
Usually, I shy away from Thai stir-fried dishes because they are not that interesting in the grand scheme of things (or so I thought). However, our server suggested we try the Pad Gra Pao which was a combination of stir fried ground pork with green beans, garlic, fresh chili and Thai holy basil. Just from looks alone, there was good wok heat where little moisture sat at the bottom of the plate. The diced green beans were vibrant and crunchy while the chunks of ground pork were moist. Once again, there was a good amount of heat which was balanced by an equal amount of savoury and sweet. We requested that it be served with a fried egg - Thai-style.
Our last dish of the meal (other than desserts) was the Pad Thai with tiger prawns. As you can clearly see in the picture, there was no ketchup used. I have nothing against the ketchup version because it can be okay if that was the expectation. However, I just have a personal preference to the traditional one made with tamarind. In addition to tamarind, there was the usual ingredients such as tofu, salted radish, egg, chives, bean sprouts and ground peanuts. This had to be one of the better attempts at Pad Thai I've had in a while. The noodles were still chewy and laced with a multitude of flavours including the tartness of tamarind, spiciness of the chilis and nuttiness from the ground peanuts. Add in a the crunch from the turnips and bean sprouts along with big pieces of pan-fried tofu, there was no absence of different textures too.
Now a meal with Mijune would not be remotely complete without dessert right? It's like autobody shops and Richmond... Anyways, we had the Black Bean Dessert first and yah yah, that is not necessarily a favourite of mine nor Mijune's personal favourite either. With that being said, it was fine with firm beans with aromatic coconut milk. It wasn't very sweet, which made it more appealing. Lastly, we shared some housemade Coconut Ice Cream with cashews and palm seeds. I give them props for attempting their own ice cream when it would be easier to just serve it from a tub. However, I found the ice cream to be quite icy. It was more like ice milk rather than ice cream. With that being said, the flavours were nice and it wasn't incredibly sweet either. I particularly loved the addition of palm seeds. Overall, the food at Chad Thai was impressive. The spice level was not wussy-like and neither were the flavours. The food was not watered-down and execution was spot on. Who would've thought that some of the best Thai in the city would be found at this little place in North Burnaby? *Note - we did not pay for this meal other than the tips*
- Flavours were not watered down
- Good default spice-level
- Super friendly proprietors
- Spice-level could be too high for some
- Seats are at a premium