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26 March 2011

It was Friday night dinner with my girlfriend and I suggested that we try out Maenam. Maenam is a very modern Thai restaurant in Kitsilano (1938 W 4th). It used to be a high-end modern restaurant called Gastropod and it’s run by the same chef, Angus An. I was interested to see what a modern approach to Thai cooking would be like. Apparently the chef has previously worked at the only Michelin Star-rated Thai restaurant in the world, so the food should be good.

We had a reservation and were sat down near the window. The sun finally decided to come out today, so it was nice and bright and I had plenty of natural light for my photos! Yes! The restaurant is nicely decorated and definitely modern and there is even this ‘curtain’ that sort of separates the dining room from the waiting area. Interesting. Anyways, we looked at the menu for a bit, decided on a few items and ordered our food.

We started with the Thai Sausage ($8) and the Hot and Sour Soup with Sablefish and Turmeric ($17). The Thai sausages are fermented so they are actually sour. They were definitely well-seasoned and the sourness was interesting. My girlfriend liked this. A funny thing was that there was a piece of red chili in the sausage and she bit down on it accidentally (even though the waiter had previously warned us about it). She survived though :). Also, the sausage was served with a sweet chili sauce, which I liked (I love sweet and sour chili dips).

The hot and sour soup was interesting. It was quite sour but not that spicy at first. But it was also flavoured with dill, which I don’t really like. The whole thing sort of just tasted sour and like dill. But the sablefish was good :). We weren’t able to finish all of this (there was enough for almost 3 bowls each, but we only had about 1.5 each). Never had something like that before, but we didn’t really like it. I mainly ordered it because people around us got it and they seemed to really like it. I guess it just isn’t our thing.

It took quite awhile for our main dishes to come, but we weren’t in a rush. After at least half-an-hour they came. We got the Panaeng Chicken Curry ($17) and the Pad Thai ($13). We also got a side of rice ($3) because the curry doesn’t come with rice. The curry was pretty good. My girlfriend said she loved it. It has an interesting sweet, yet salty flavour with a sort of browned taste (hard to explain). The chicken was fairly tender and it came in this nice little gold dish. It was topped with fried Thai basil, which I though was just for show, but was actually a good addition.

Every Thai restaurant has pad thai, so I figured it would be a good test of the restaurant’s mettle. I actually am never amazed by pad thai I have, but this one was good. The noodles were nice and chewy (unlike those soft ones) and it had a lot of flavour. A splash of lime also adds a nice touch. There were a lot of bean sprouts, though, which inevitably end up being pushed to the side. It was actually quite a bit of food and we were stuffed when we were done.

I’m no expert on Thai food but I thought that this was good. It is a bit more expensive than your typical Thai restaurant, but those don’t tend to be fine dining places. I think $30 per person is fair for this kind of meal. The service was fine, but the food did take a bit longer than I would expect. The decor was nice and the restaurant was quite bustling (a euphemism for loud). If I went back I think would try the 5-course Chef’s menu for $30, which is a similar amount of food compared to what we got. It may not seem like a lot at first, but it fills you up. One of the most interesting parts of the meal was listening to the guy sitting next to us. He loved everything he ate and he exclaimed it quite emphatically. I think this is his new favourite restaurant. Enough about eavesdropping. Overall, the food was good and interesting but nothing was WOW and a modern approach wasn’t really taken on the food (which I guess is okay).

Food: 3.5 out of 5
Service: 3 out of 5
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5
Value: 3.5 out of 5

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Damn, another 3.5. Good just isn’t going to cut it…

Maenam on Urbanspoon

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