Go Thai

More Thai food, you ask? After our lovely dinner at Bob Likes Thai Food, my dad insisted we try another Thai restaurant a bit closer to home. So on a rainy Saturday night all four of us (sans uncle this time) drove out to Go Thai with open minds. It’s a smaller, much less stylish operation than Bob Likes Thai Food, and even at first glance you can tell that the restaurant itself is quite old. The paint is scratched in places, and the water glasses, although clean, are noticeably scratched up as well. Despite this, the restaurant looked relatively clean and well-operated, and the kitchen floors (which we could see easily from our seats) were spotless.

Tom Yum Gai

We started off with the Tom Yum Gai ($7.95), hot and sour soup with exotic Thai herbs, sliced button mushrooms, and chicken. When the waitress first brought this over to our table, we smelled it before we saw it. For all of us, it strangely reminded us of the smell of Korean fermented bean paste (not a pleasant smell, in case you’re wondering). At first sip, it tasted strongly of lemongrass, and had an almost poisonously spicy aftertaste. Maybe it would be more accurate to describe as “hot” rather than “spicy”, as it left a burning sensation on my lips long after I took several sips of cold water. I personally have a high tolerance for spicy foods, but if you do not, I wouldn’t recommend this.

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Go Thai also offers a varieties of curries, which you can choose to have either with beef, pork, chicken, tofu, or prawns. We opted for the Green Curry ($11.95) with chicken. This was a disappointment. The curry was very thin and watered down. We also felt that the ingredients weren’t integrated properly with the curry itself, as they felt like two separate components. The flavours were noticeably muted, with the only strong flavour being the coconut milk. Besides the chicken, there were also some green peppers and eggplant included.

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And of course we had to have an order of the Pad Thai ($9.95). Added to the usual sweet and sour taste of pad thai was a strangely bitter aftertaste. It was also a little too wet, with the noodles getting lost a bit in the sauce, which was a bit too cold to be enjoyable. The noodles themselves were forgettable, not having enough bite to stand up to the other ingredients. As with the curry, we felt that the ingredients had been rather randomly thrown together. Although the peanuts and bean sprouts added some much needed textural contrast, I would say that this dish was a definite flop.

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We deviated a bit from our usual favourite items and tried the Phad King ($9.95), which you can also try with the same proteins as above. As with the curry, we decided on chicken. This dish was mostly for my dad, as the menu description of sautéed ginger, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms sounded quite healthy. Sadly, though, my dad didn’t enjoy it, as the sauce was much too watered down. Although the taste of ginger was quite prominent, this was a mediocre, unmemorable dish.

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Next up is the Go Thai Fried Rice ($8.95), with chicken, BBQ pork, egg, tomatoes, onions, and peas. When this first arrived, I felt suspicious: it looked awfully like any old fried rice you can get at your neighbourhood Chinese restaurant. And sad to say, it tasted exactly like your average Chinese fried rice. To their credit, though, the rice wasn’t overly oily or wet, and I would gladly have eaten this in any other circumstance, except that I had expected some bolder flavours.

As you can see, we weren’t too impressed by the dishes we sampled at Go Thai, which were all unmemorable. I found that the bold flavours found in Thai food were all muted, most likely to appeal to the clientele, but the food was simply too bland to enjoy. It’s not like Go Thai has much competition with its location in New West, but, to be honest, I would rather drive out somewhere further for more authentic Thai food rather than eat here again. It wasn’t that Go Thai is necessarily bad, it’s just that there is much better elsewhere.

Go Thai
502 East Columbia Street
New Westminster, BC

Go Thai on Urbanspoon

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The Noodle Box

It’s weird, but I take the bus along West 4th three days every week, but I can count the times I’ve gotten off on a stop that isn’t UBC or VCC-Clark on one hand. Still, I do take notice of the many restaurants, and promise myself to try them out sometime. So on a Friday after my econ midterm, Yvonne, Dolph, and I wandered off the bus and into the Kitsilano location of The Noodle Box.

The Noodle Box is actually a franchise–there are two locations in Vancouver (one in Kits, and one in Yaletown), with five locations in Victoria. I’m always a little wary of chain restaurants, to tell you the truth. Still, they can also promise a solid meal in times of uncertainty. I liked the interior of the restaurant–it looked clean and modern. Also, I could see a bottle of Sriracha sauce from where I was sitting–yumm.

I chose the Thai Green Curry, which came with a plethora of bean sprouts, choy, green onion, and too many kinds of veggies to count! The noodles were at the bottom, and were satisfyingly chewy. I was a little surprised by the appearance of this dish, as I expected more of a traditional curry, but I still enjoyed this. I chose to have this with the chicken (the other choices being prawns, beef, pork, or tofu), and surprisingly, the chicken was moist and flavourful. The portion size was also quite large. I would have liked more noodles though…

Dolph chose the Pad Thai with chicken. She thought that the taste of ginger was too overpowering, and like me, she would have preferred more noodles for the price she paid ($11+). The sauce was tangy and vinegary. Like my curry, the noodles were accompanied by a lot of veggies: carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, etc. Dolph was not too impressed with this version of Pad Thai, but I suppose we have to consider that it is western-infused Asian food, and not to be compared with authentic Thai food.

Yvonne had the Singapore Cashew Curry, again with chicken. Now…the noodles. They tasted very strange, and um…stale? I’m not sure if they were fully cooked. Yvonne expressed that while she enjoys chewy noodles, this was more…crunchy? The chicken was flavourful, but the dish as a whole was dry. The veggies were crunchy, with the combination of ingredients creating a great texture, except for the noodles. I liked the taste of the curry, as you can decide the level of spiciness. (Dolph and Yvonne both chose Mild, while I had Medium, although I still used some Sriracha sauce). But we couldn’t really get past these strange noodles when evaluating this dish…

Dolph also ordered some Malay Style Fried Rice to take home to her family. It came in a cute little Chinese takeout box–although I’m not sure how (or if) they managed to fit the generous portions into such a small box. I’m pretty sure it’s more worth your money to eat in.

As a whole, the three of us weren’t too impressed by our experience at Noodle Box. Service was fine–but it is a pay at the counter, then pick up your order system. The food was fine, but nothing to write home about–I guess I’m not a huge fan of inauthentic Asian foods. The prices are also a little on the higher side, but you do have to account for the restaurant’s location in Kits.

The Noodle Box
1867 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

The Noodle Box (Kits) on Urbanspoon


Banana Leaf

Lately I’ve been getting home a bit later and haven’t had time to enjoy my mom’s cooking as much as before. Also, I’ve been eating out quite a bit–so much for February, month of midterms, huh? Already weathered 2 midterms, got one more and a term paper due the week after Reading Break! (What kind of term paper is due in February, right?) Anyways, I digress–on to the real post.

If you live in Vancouver, you’re probably familiar with Banana Leaf, a chain restaurant specializing in Malaysian food. I’m not sure how authentic Banana Leaf is, but to be honest, I have trouble recognizing authenticity in any type of ethnic restaurant (well, except Korean, I guess). All that really matters to me is how the food tastes! I’m not a picky eater (well…kind of.)

This random trip to Banana Leaf (the Fairview location) happened on a Wednesday night. One of my friends is moving back to Korea soon and organized a somewhat impromptu goodbye dinner. We ordered five dishes to share, plus a dessert, for five people.

Our first dish was the Mango Salad. If you know me in real life at all, you’ll know I’m not a huge veggie or salad or even mango person… but this wasn’t too bad, although it was a smaller portion than I would have liked. The salad consisted of julienned mangoes, carrots, cucumbers, and also red onions, fried onions, and peanuts, doused in a house vinaigrette. I think it worked texturally with the smoothness of the mangoes contrasting with the crunchiness of the onions. It was a nice and refreshing start to the meal, although I’m not so sold on the peanuts… Banana Leaf provides complementary peanuts at the start of the meal, so I guess I was peanut-ed out by the time the salad came. But all in all, the ingredients complimented each other and tasted fresh!

The next dish was the Curry Boneless Chicken. This arrived with a bowl of rice, which you can see in the picture of the prawns below. Flavour-wise, the curry was not too spicy or strong, but quite mild and creamy. Personally I like my curries a bit spicier. There were bite-size pieces of boneless chicken in a coconut cream sauce, accompanied by green beans, okra, and red peppers. I found the chicken a tad dry, and the curry itself not too memorable.

Next, the Sambal Chili Prawns. These were tiger prawns in a spicy sauce with chunks of tomato and red peppers. (And you can see the rice that arrived with the curry in the background!) Maybe I’m just stupid but I failed to tell the tomatoes and peppers apart and just bit into the pepper. Oh well. Anyways, the sauce was both spicy and a little bit sweet, but not going too far in either direction. Enjoyable, but not all too unique, I would say.

PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE! Once again, if you know me at all, you’ll know I absolutely love fried rice. It’s pretty much the only thing my mom doesn’t make well–well, she does make a good fried rice, but she uses Korean rice, which is sticky and doesn’t have the same texture. This particular version included chunks of fresh pineapple, seafood (I saw baby scallops, don’t know what else), raisins, chicken, and egg, among others. Compared to the version I had at Tropika a while back, I’d say I prefer this one–maybe just because I love scallops so much. The rice was cooked perfectly while not being mushy, and the variety of ingredients created an interesting mixture. The only concern I have when I eat this dish is whether or not they reuse the pineapple shell…

Singapore Laksa: Rice noodles in a coconut soup base, with egg, shrimp, bean sprouts, fish cakes, and squid, among other ingredients. Similar to the chicken curry above, there was no real strong flavours. The broth was simply creamy and a little rich, but we all enjoyed this very much. We ended up drinking the broth on its own once the noodles were all gone. The noodles were al dente, and I really enjoyed the crunchiness and snap from the bean sprouts along with the smoothness of the noodles. Would probably say this was one of my favourite dishes of the night!

Usually when I go out for dinner, I tend to skip dessert at the restaurant. If I’m in the mood for something sweet, I’ll stop by a McDonald’s and grab a strawberry sundae. For some reason, the five of us decided to share one dessert: a fried banana with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, peanuts, topped with a maraschino cherry. Banana Leaf’s website refers to it as Pisang Goreng. I’m a sucker for anything fried (you’re probably noticing a theme here…I’m hugely unhealthy in my eating habits). The crispy exterior of the batter was well complimented by the warm banana inside, as well as the cold ice cream. Also the banana itself wasn’t too soggy, which is always a plus!

All in all I’d say the dinner at Banana Leaf was pleasant and I’d want to return to try some more of the dishes–although I was getting kind of tired of the peanuts after a while. Thanks for reading, happy midterms!

Banana Leaf
820 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Banana Leaf (Fairview) on Urbanspoon