Sherman's Food Adventures: Baan Lao

Baan Lao

Fine dining and Thai cuisine are not normally a thing in the GVRD, but there is a place in Steveston that takes Thai food to a whole new level.  Baan Lao, located right on the water, offers up not only refined dishes, it also affords a complete dining experience with white glove service.  You won't find the standard Thai fare here.  Rather, they only offer their Signature Dining Experience for $190.00pp.  Ophilia and I checked out this unique tasting menu out in beautiful Steveston.

As an amuse bouche, we were started off with the Maa Haaw. It consisted of stir fried minced Berkshire pork, Thai herbs and bird’s eye chili atop fresh pineapple marinated for 24 with kaffir lime leaves.  This little bite was a flavour bomb while being delicate at the same time.  There was definite sweetness to go with the spice from the chili.  Loved the texture of the meat as it was akin to being candied.  Lots of subtle flavours at play here and it came on in layers with each chew.

We were served a pair of little bites next. The Sohm Dtam sported fresh green papaya tossed in a zesty lime dressing with chillies, garlic and tomato.  Don't let the portion size fool you, it was packed with plenty of punch and as the menu stated - sweet, salty, spicy and sour.  On the next spoon, we found the Thoong Thaawn aka "money bags" with minced pork and prawns, fresh herbs and tied with fresh chive.  The outer wrapper was super crunchy and stayed as such even though it sat in a sweet and sour sauce.  Inside, the meats were discernible and fully seasoned with definite herb aftertaste.

Presented in a hollow glass bowl, the Yam Neuua was actually a salad that featured Sumas Mountain tenderloin with fresh herbs grape and fresh mint.  Yes, it could be confusing to some (that this is a salad) as the prominent part of the dish was the tender and beautifully prepared medium-rare tenderloin.  Well, if all my salads were like this, I would eat salads exclusively!   The flavours were bright being tangy which made this dish appetizing.

Before we progressed to some bigger dishes, we were served Naam Dta Khrai Baitoey which is a Thai medicinal elixir.  At Baan Lao, they combined fresh lemongrass and pandan juices to create a palate cleanser that was mild and subtle.  We got the unmistakable essence of lemongrass which was accented by the aromatic sweetness of the pandan. 

Now onto something that most people would be familiar with but not necessarily with the presentation - Phat Thai Goong.  With this version, it was immediately obvious that there was more care put into this dish than the usual.  The stir-fried rice noodles were encased in an egg lattice (I've actually had it this way before) which made for a striking visual as well as added texture.  As for the noodles, they were al dente, not clumpy and blessed with the beautiful sweetness and tang of palm sugar and fresh tamarind.  The proverbial icing on the cake was the perfectly-prepared tiger prawn.

One of my favourite items of the meal was the Dthom Yam Goong Laai Seuua featuring a spicy broth with mushrooms, fresh lemongrass, bird's eye chili and fresh tiger prawns.  I'll go ahead and say it - this is the best version of this soup I've ever had.  It was so clean, yet complex at the same time.  Layers of aromatics were intermittently available between the jolts of spice from the chili.  Even though the spice was impactful, we could still get the sweetness, tanginess and light seafoodiness of the broth.

Continuing with the hits, we had the Bpet Yang Sauce Gaaeng Phet served with Khaao Haawm Mali & Khaao Riceberry.  This featured sous vide Sumas Mountain Organic Farm duck with red curry, fresh pineapple and cherry tomato.  The duck was indeed succulent from the sous vide, but the fat could've been rendered just a touch more.  The star of this dish was the truly exceptional red curry.  It was rich, spicy and full-bodied.  There was real heat to it but the creaminess of the coconut milk and sweetness from the palm sugar helped balance things.

Moving to the last savoury course, we had the Bplaa Salmon Sauce Khaaio Waan. The delicate wild sockeye salmon was just barely cooked through, hence it was flaky and moist.  It sat atop green curry sauce and was topped with Ocean Wise Acadian Caviar and Manetti edible 23k Italian gold leaf.  I found the curry to be once again, full of heat with the creaminess of coconut milk.  There was just enough sweetness to balance.  On the side, the basil crumbs added texture and more aromatics.

As an interlude before we got to the dessert, we were presented with the Sorbet Ma Naao or Organic Lime Sorbet.  This meant business with the lime as the sorbet was bursting with tanginess.  This really woke up my taste buds and washed away the strong flavours and heat of the previous dishes. 

So for dessert, we had the Khaao Niaao Ma Muaang, Ice Cream Gathi and Woon Gathi.  The pressed on-site coconut glutinous rice was aromatic and lightly chewy in texture. The ripe mango flower on top was tender and sweet.  On the side, the coconut milk ice cream was sweet and lightly creamy.  Lastly, the coconut milk jelly was another texture on the plate that was aromatic and akin to coconut pudding.

As a bonus, we finished the meal off with Phohn La Maai, Luuk Choop and Chaa Mint.  The hand-carved watermelon was sweet and full of juice.  In front, the "chili" was actually made of luuk choop which is like marizpan, but made with mung bean paste coated with agar.  Very whimsical indeed and overall, a finely prepared meal that to me at least, worth the cost.  In addition, the ambiance and the service was equal to the task as well.

The Good:
- Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng puts plenty of care and finesse into her food
- Service is top-notch and professional
- Outstanding location on the water

The Bad:
- Well, it isn't cheap, but worth it for a special occasion


Search this Site