Restaurant: Tangthai Cuisine of Thailand
Last visited:January 20, 2010
Location:Vancouver, BC (Robson Street/West End/Downtown)
Address: 1779 Robson Street
Price Range: $10-20 (closer to $20)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: n/a (due to circumstances)
- 2nd location – original location on West Broadway
- Family owned
- Experienced and trained Thai chefs/cooks
- Authentic Thai with some modern influences
- Some creative dishes I’ve never seen at other Thai restaurants
- Can chose level of spiciness
- Home made/ home cooked
- Curry sauces made from scratch
- Beautiful décor
- 2 levels, private room available
- Slightly more expensive
- Attracts Westerners/locals in neighborhood
- Lunch and dinner
- Lunch specials 11:30-4pm
- Vegetarian options
- Open 7 days, open late
Recommendations: Prawn skirt, Tom Kha Kai, Pla Muek Pad Keaw Wan (Stuffed squid), Nua Pad Takhai
The nature of this visit was not under normal conditions. I was invited by Chow Times on behalf of Tangthai for this special tasting session especially for Vancouver food bloggers. I was joined with Sherman’s Food Adventures, My Secret Eden, 604Foodtography and of course Chow Times. Therefore the food was complimentary, however we accepted on the condition that we had the freedom to write and express our true opinions. The owner, Dhitichaya Ruengsamarnwong (yes, very long name) was 100% receptive to the conditions and wanted the food to speak for itself. There was no expectation from the Tangthai.
We were thus served a proper sit down dinner having food served the way they usually would on a regular night. However it wasn’t quite “regular” as there were dishes that they are planning to introduce that are not yet on the menu and we were lucky enough to try them first. The owners are genuinely nice people and treated us with the utmost respect. I honestly think their service would transfer over to diners on a regular night.
The food on the whole was pretty good, with some dishes better than others. I’m not Thai so it’s hard for me to speak of ‘authenticity’ however some dishes I felt were more authentic Thai than others…to the point of it not tasting good to a Westerner since we’re commonly given “watered down Thai food”. I did my own research on Thai cuisine before attending and was educated about Thai cuisine during dinner as well so I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. We got everything served the “authentic Thai way” which means pretty damn spicy – but you can request for something more mild…I wouldn’t.
On the table
Prawn Skirt – 5/6
- Egg wrapping stuffed with minced pork, crab meat, and water chestnut. 4 for $8.95
- Prawn skirt or prawn spring rolls? I would have totally looked passed these if I saw them on the menu. It just sounds so typical. I’m actually really glad I got to try them though because they were good!
- They were very crispy and crunchy and fried perfectly. Lots of filling and tightly wrapped. The shrimp is only at the end. They’re savoury, but also spicy and spicier with the sweet Thai chili dipping sauce. I enjoyed it though!
- My only complaint is that they used artificial crab stick meat. I was looking for the texture of flaked crabmeat, but I guess for the price it’s understandable.
Satay Chicken and Beef – 1.5/6
- Chicken or beef satay served with peanut sauce and cucumber 4 for $6.95 or 8 for $13.95
- I could pass on these. I tried both the chicken and the beef and found the beef a bit dry. The chicken was ok, but it was a bit tendon-y for my liking. It did have a grilled and crispy outside, just a fatty texture.
- They marinated the meat in a yellow curry spice rub which was unusual to me for Thai cuisine. I found it made for a drier texture and didn’t do much in terms of flavour.
- Peanut sauce: I had major issues with this sauce. It tasted like smooth jarred peanut butter with minced garlic and ginger. I like real ground peanuts in my peanut sauce. But apparently the authentic Thai way is actually to have smooth peanut butter and it’s more Malaysian to expect a crunchy peanut paste. I still like the Malaysian one better. This one really tasted like plain store bought peanut butter, a fresh one would have been nice and not hard to make.
Tom Kha Kai – 5/6
- Spicy coconut soup with chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass and cilantro $3.95
- I’ve never really had tom kha kai like this before. This one was very rich, creamy, velvety and smooth. It was almost like the texture of lobster bisque. The soup seemed very westernized to me, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
- It’s a very aromatic soup that’s actually quite sweet in the beginning so there was quite a bit of palm sugar. The spiciness isn’t in the beginning but catches up with you after and lingers. There’s a strong lemongrass and coconut taste and I found it more sweet overall.
- They used 3 different bell peppers and the yellow bell pepper is the sweetest. It was also the most cooked so I think they used the natural sugars from the yellow pepper to enhance the sweetness.
- There was about 3 pieces of chicken filet, but no mushrooms in mine.
- The broth was excellent, but I could have used more fresh herbs and ingredients. The portion was a bit small too because of the size and shape of the bowl.
Cashew Chicken – 3/6
- Chicken breast fried with cashew nuts, onions, crispy chilies, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions, and snap peas $12.95
- This was good, but it was also at the end of the meal when we were all stuffed and our taste buds were dead. So it was not spicy at all, which is common of cashew chicken – it never really is.
- It looks really spicy, but its not. It’s more sweet and savoury. It was almost like tamarind sauce with sweet chili sauce and maybe some chili oil.
- It was a bit too oily for my liking, but the veggies were fresh and crunchy and there was a good amount of chicken and cashews.
Herb Chicken Barbeque – 2.5/6 (special, not on official menu)
- Half chicken $16.95
- I didn’t really care much for this dish. It was good and the chicken wasn’t dry, but I wouldn’t order it again. It was a Thai version of barbeque chicken. I couldn’t really taste any of the marinade even though I could see some herbs and lemon grass. It was very regular to me.
- What makes this dish different is the sauce. The sauce was very tangy and very salty! It was made of fish sauce so it was quite potent and there was also some lime. It was spicy again and infused with some cilantro. The sprinkle toasted rice on this sauce so there was a really delicate nutty crunch which I liked. The sauce is super strong though, which makes up for the blander chicken. Alone you probably won’t like it, but with the chicken it works.
- I really think they should remove the tin foil before serving this chicken. It was really weird and ruined he presentation.
Nua Pad Takhai – 5/6
- Beef fried with lemongrass, onions, chilies, bell peppers and cilantro $13.95
- This was a really simple dish and almost tasted like a Chinese beef stir-fry. As simple as it was, I thought it was done really well and it tasted good which is the important part.
- Since the beef slices were quite thin thy soaked up all the flavours really well.
- Besides beef the main ingredient is lemongrass, and that was the dominant flavour. It was very minced and not hard so it wasn’t distracting. They used it in the sauce and it absorbed into everything. It was quite spicy because of the chilies, but the lemongrass still stood out.
Pla Muek Pad Keaw Wan – 6/6 (special, not on official menu)
- Ground chicken breast and vermicelli stuffed squid with figs in spicy green curry sauce (Possibly $16.95? – they may consider offering it as an appy)
- I have never seen this dish before at any Thai restaurant in Vancouver. I was really excited! I love trying new things.
- The 6/6 is partly because it’s different, but in terms of flavour and overall I would give it a 5/6. There were like a million different flavours going on in my mouth. No joke. I couldn’t pick anything out because every flavour lasted only a second before I tasted something else. I felt like Violet eating that chewing gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- This was the spiciest dish. The sauce was a green coconut curry sauce and it had quite the kick! It was sweet from the coconut milk and palm sugar, spicy from fresh whole black peppercorns, salty from fish sauce, tangy from a bit of lime and aromatic with galangal, fresh bay leaf and basil leaf. Every single herb and spice listed was fresh, not dried. Very rare to come across.
- The noodles made for a very soft and tender chicken stuffing. It was almost like eating an ultra soft chicken meatball or a meatloaf. It almost tasted milky. I could compare the texture and even flavour to white bread soaked in milk – not really flavourful, but very interesting. I don’t even know if it was good as much as it was new to me.
- The squid was actually the last thing that “wow’d” me…I was so distracted by everything else going on with this dish. The squid itself had no seasonings and it was a bit crunchy to me and I would have preferred it more tender and chewy.
- I was trying to guess everything in this dish. The green wedges were actually figs! That was a nice surprise. They weren’t sweet, but had the texture of a firmer zucchini or eggplant. It was a firm and had a squeaky crunch. I liked them but they were kind of flavorless. What gave them flavour was the sauce.
- The things that look like giant peas are actually baby figs. I ate 4 of them trying to figure out what they were and they weren’t good. They were very bitter and popped in your mouth…they popped out a seedy pulp almost like a cherry tomato would.
- I actually recommended the owners to offer this dish as an appetizer. Since the clientele is predominantly ‘white’ and the dish is rather new to the Thai scene I think it would be appropriate to offer it as an appetizer so people could try it.
Pla Rad Prik – 4.5/6
- Fried crispy Tilapia topped with bell peppers, onions and a spicy sweet and sour sauce $15.95
- I could be the only one that actually enjoyed this dish. This is an authentic Thai dish that Thai people order. I’ve had something very similar; the Pla Sarm Rod at Khai Thai with my Thai friends before so I knew what to expect…otherwise you won’t like it and think it’s overcooked and dry. The thing is – it’s supposed to be.
- The tilapia is deep fried to the point were the fish becomes almost jerky like and dry. It’s extremely crispy and the goal is to get it to the point where it’s so crispy you can chew right through the bones and eat them! And I could!
- I’m not sure if you can tell by the picture but they slice the body of the fish to open up the surface and get it even crispier. It’s really good, but maybe only to me.
- The sauce is amazing. It’s reminiscent of that Pan-fried Prawn with Basil sauce I had at Rainflower Restaurant. I love this sauce! It’s like honey garlic spare ribs sauce, but spicy. There’s tons of freshly cracked black pepper and it’s wonderfully aromatic, sweet and tangy too. It’s a tamarind based sweet and sour sauce and not a Westernized tomato based one. It was almost like a black pepper, spicy and tangy caramel sauce.
- The only thing missing is deep fried basil leaves. For me it’s more than a garnish and a must to this dish. The one at Khai Thai has deep fried basil leaves.
Chucheepla – 3.5/6 (special, not on official menu)
- Deep fried Panko crusted eggplant (bottom layer) and deep fried basa fillets (top layer) served with curry sauce (Possibly $15.95?)
- It’s not on the menu, but they want to bring it on. This will fly easy with Western flavours and the Vancouver scene. For me it didn’t seem traditional Thai (even though it is) and the flavour seemed more Thai-Japanese fusion.
- Almost anyone would like this dish, unless you don’t like deep-fried food.
- The dish isn’t authentically served with eggplant but I enjoyed it more than the fish. The fish was too battered and it was just a regular flour batter.
- The thin slices worked well for the eggplant because the eggplant had the Panko batter which made it very crispy especially if you had them right away.
- It was topped with a curry sauce, which I thought was a peanut sauce. I could have used the sauce on the side because it ended up getting soggy.
- The sauce to me tasted like a peanut garlic ginger sauce, but it was really a curry sauce. I thought it was a Japanese curry sauce, but it wasn’t. It still tasted very nutty to me and they did try to make it their own. This one wasn’t spicy to me, but at this point my taste buds were overwhelmed.
Pad Thai Krung Tep – 3/6
- Classic rice noodle dish with eggs, chicken, shrimps, sliced tofu, preserved radish, chives, bean sprouts, and traditional Pad Thai sauce, served with a side of ground peanuts and lime $12.95
- It was good and there was nothing wrong with it, but it was also very whatever. It wasn’t greasy and the noodles weren’t clumpy or overcooked. It’s just everything else was so flavourful that this one came across as ok even though it was pretty good.
- This was a Thai style Pad Thai so it’s tamarind based and not tomato based. The tomato based is the Western version. Therefore this one is almost soy based, but a bit tangier. I really needed the squeeze of lime juice; otherwise it was a bit plain.
- I don’t remember many shrimps being in it and I could have used more ground peanuts. I actually wanted more of a dried shrimp flavour to it.
Thai Pudding – 3/6
- Home made Thai milky iced tea pudding. Served cold $5.95
- This was simple, but good. It was more like jello than it was pudding, it’s not as creamy. It wasn’t too sweet and the sweetness wasn’t sugar, but actually sugar cane. The tea flavour really came out and I liked it.
- I didn’t like the piece of cake that was served on top. It was a bought angel food cake and it was really dry and chewy…almost stale. I would disregard this aspect because they don’t always do that.
- I’d pay $3.95 for it, but $5.95 I think is too expensive.
Tapioca with Jackfruit & Mango – 1/6
- Tapioca pearls served with coconut milk, jackfruit, and mangoes. Served warm. $3.95
- No thank you. I really love the Chinese Coconut Tapioca Pudding which is similar to this Thai version. For me the best is still at Kirin so far.
- I think they should serve it cold.
- It was very salty! It was sweet too, but the saltiness was first. If you’re Thai then this is authentic and suits your taste buds, but if your not (like me), it’s very salty and almost tastes like it’s spoiled especially since it’s served warm.
- The owner did say the saltiness is for Thai taste buds and also her own taste buds, so I think she’s going to pull back on that.
- Not commenting on the flavour now, the tapioca still wasn’t good because it was clumpy.
- The only part I like was the use of fresh coconut meat, that made it a bit gourmet, but the taste was just not for me.