Sherman's Food Adventures: Ban Chok Dee (Maple Ridge)

Ban Chok Dee (Maple Ridge)

Early on in this blog's existence, I had visited the Langley location of Ban Chok Dee way before all of the social media hype.  We came away satisfied and surprised that good Thai food could be found way out in the burbs.  In more recent times, Ban Chok Dee has increased its social media presence and participated in challenges.  I've been back quite a few times since then and in fact, have been a judge for a few of the challenges.  With yet another judging of the Wing Challenge presented by Vanfoodster, I decided to head out to their Maple Ridge location to see if: a) the food is still good and b) how does it compare to the original restaurant.

In terms of distance, it really didn't make a difference for me driving out from Burnaby, but the new location is pretty convenient right on Lougheed Hwy and just off the Golden Ears Bridge.  We didn't drive all the way out for wings, so we ended up having a full dinner.   Since they were expecting us for the Wing Challenge, they started us off with 2 amuse bouche.  Whimsically-plated, we had the Fried Prawns doubling as little birds in a nest.  These were meaty with a moist snap.  Underneath, one of them was sweet mayo while the other was a mix of galangal, ginger, lemongrass, lime, peanut, palm sugar, chilis and coconut.  This was spicy and sharp from the ginger.  Next, we had a Mango Salad with crisps, kaffir lime leaves, chilis, fish sauce, galangal, lemongrass and red onion.  It resulted in a sweet and aromatic combination that was also tangy.

Onto the reason we were here, we were served 2 orders of the Boneless Wings Stuffed with Tom Yum.  On the side, it was served with tamarind strawberry sauce and taro chips.  This was certainly an interesting creation where the initially, the strawberry sauce concerned me.  However, it was completely balanced off by the tamarind being tangy, sweet and lightly spicy.  The wings themselves were succulent with a shrimp tom yum centre.  There was definite spice and the essence of kaffir lime leaves.  I also found the pickled cauliflower a nice touch as it added more acidity (which I personally love).

Onto the regular menu, I ordered a dish I've had before at the Langley location - Cured Dry Pork Ribs.  For $12.00, this was a healthy portion of appealingly chewy ribs that were meaty with little cartilage and fat.  Being salt-cured, there was plenty of flavour to go with the caramelized smokiness.  On the menu, it suggests you have a tall cool one to go with this and I completely agree, this would make a great bar snack.  For our curry, we went with something different in the BBQ Duck Lychee Curry.  Pictures doesn't really do this dish justice as it was rather large.  Contained within a deep bowl, there was a creamy coconut curry that was sweet with the essence of lychee and also lightly spicy.  With every ingredient in one bite (a bit hard to do, but necessary), there was the pop of lychees combined with the roasted duck and the crunch of the bamboo shoots.  We needed to get another bowl of rice to take advantage of all of the sauce.

The next 2 dishes could be considered standards on any Thai restaurant menu (in Vancouver) - Chicken Cashew Nut and Pad Thai Goong.  Generously portioned, the stir fry of chicken, cashews, pepper and onions was sweet, caramelized and mildly spicy.  As evidenced in the picture, the peppers were still vibrant and crisp.  If you thought this was a big plate of food, the Pad Thai was even bigger.  We would've preferred that the rice noodles were more chewy, but it didn't make or break the dish.  Although there was a pronounced sweetness, an equal amount of tamarind tang and spice balanced everything out.  All of the usual ingredients were there including meaty prawns in this case.  This last dish pretty much exemplifies what BDC is about - great-tasting and well-portioned Thai food at a reasonable price.  Considering its location, there aren't many other places that can make that claim.

*All food excluding gratuities was complimentary*

The Good:
- Huge portions, which means good value
- Tasty food
- Modern and spacious

The Bad:
- Flavours were on the sweeter side, but then again, you can ask for more spicy
- Pad Thai noodles could've been chewier

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