Bob Likes Thai Food

Restaurant: Bob Likes Thai Food
Cuisine: Thai
Last visited: December 16, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Riley Park/Little Mountain)
Address: 3755 Main St
Bus: NB Main St FS E 22 Av
Price Range: $10-20 ($10-12 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3.5-4
Service: 2.5
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Northern Thai owned/chefs
  • Decently authentic Thai
  • Limited menu
  • A few Northern Thai dishes
  • Offers mainly Southern Thai
  • Neighbourhood favourite
  • Accepts credit card
  • Daily dinner until 9pm (?)
  • Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm

**Recommendations: Miang Kham, Pad Thai

It received a lot of hype when it first opened (in 2010) and people raved about its authenticity. However now that things have settled down it seems to have blended in with the rest of the neighbourhood favourites on Main Street. I don’t have a previous experience to compare to, so I’m not sure if the quality has changed, but I think I was expecting a bit more. I found the food good, more authentic than I expected, but not really any better than any other good and decently authentic Thai restaurant in Metro Vancouver. Mind you, there are a very limited amount of them if any.

Bob Likes Thai Food. If I wasn’t a local, I would have assumed it was Thai food for Westerners judging by its name and the demographic of those dining inside. If it was called Chaiyaanuntchanipornsupaporn Likes Thai Food, I maybe more convinced… and I promise you “Chaniporn” and “Supaporn” are legit Thai names. And you thought the names of the Guess Who? characters were rough.

So who’s Bob anyway? And why is he making my Thai food? Sadly, there is no Bob, although I’m sure there is a Bob that does like Thai food. Some friends told me the background and the owners are actually Thai and from Northern Thailand, but what they offer here is Southern Thai cuisine. Since most of what we have come to love in Vancouver is Southern Thai cuisine (typically it’s the only thing available), the owners fear making Northern Thai food because it’s less familiar to the Vancouver food scene and perhaps harder to accept. Well that just makes me want to do this ‘siknfalskndf;iahg;dfabg. Personally, I’d love to see more Northern Thai dishes. Do what you do best and show us something new! Nobody knew what dim sum and izakaya were and now sushi is like Vancouver’s national food. Wishful thinking…

Generally, the food was good on an enjoyment scale. I won’t even talk about “authenticity” too much because we’re not in Thailand and the ingredients for authentic Thai food is limited anyways. It was certainly more authentic than expected and one of the more authentic Thai places in the context of Vancouver. The portions were on the smaller side, but the prices were fair for the area. I found it better than Sawasdee Thai (also on Main Street), but it has a much smaller menu. Regardless I’d still come here first if I was on Main Street craving Thai.

On the table:

**Miang Kham (6 Bites)5/6 (Excellent)

  • A traditional snack from Thailand and Laos, originating in Northern Thailand. The name can be interpreted as meaning “eating many things in one bite”. Piper sarmentosum or chaphiu leaves, roasted grated coconut, lime, shallot, peanut, ginger and fresh chili (optional) with a tamarind palm sugar sauce. $6
  • Nice! A Northern Thai dish! Since the owner is Northern Thai and this was almost the only Northern Thai dish, I had to order it.
  • It was my first time trying Miang Kham. It was pretty much a Northern Thai style mini lettuce wrap.
  • In the context of what it is, I loved it! But I’m not sure how it compares to other Miang Kham since I have nothing to compare to.
  • The piper sarmentosum or chaphiu leaves had a plasticky texture and they tasted almost like broccoli with a sweetness in the beginning and then an herby bitter aftertaste. It’s not that bitter though and very bearable; it’s only noticeable if you eat it alone.
  • It was served room temperature and in a single bite it was a crazy tour of Thailand on your palate.
  • It was incredibly aromatic with lots of flavours and textures.
  • It was herby at first and then I tasted mainly dried shredded crumbly coconut, a bit of minced shallots, one single cube of skinless fresh ginger, a mini lime segment with the rind, a couple toasted whole peanuts, and a sweet, savoury, tangy and mildly spicy tamarind palm sugar sauce.
  • It was almost like a salad and authentically it should also have small dried shrimp which I would have loved for that extra savoury and pungent flavour, but this was still excellent.
  • The flavours were really fresh and it was crispy, crunchy and juicy and the burst of bright citrus lime juice and bite of spicy ginger somehow neutralized each other.
  • You would think eating a chunk of ginger and lime rind would be really strong and overbearing, but they worked in perfect harmony especially with the sweet coconut and nutty peanuts toning it down.
  • I’m sure it would have been even better had that coconut been freshly grated and toasted.
  • I loved all the ingredients in it separately, but would have never thought of putting it together like this. It worked wonderfully!

Laab Moo3/6 (Good)

  • I-San Style minced pork salad with roasted rice, mint, fish sauce, and lime juice $10
  • Laab Moo, Larb Moo or Larb Gai (chicken version) is one of my must order dishes when I go for Thai food and it’s often overlooked, but it is an authentic Thai favourite.
  • Usually it’s a 6/6 thing for me, but it wasn’t my favourite here.
  • It’s usually found under “salads”, but it’s not really what one would think of as a traditional salad.
  •  There’s more meat than veggies and it’s almost another version of a lettuce wrap. It’s best made with pork.
  • I’ve never tried an I-San style laab moo, but the raw crunchy green beans and raw cucumbers really caught me off guard because I’ve only ever had it served with romaine leaves.
  • I thought the green beans and cucumbers were a Western interpretation, but it could be the I-San style I’m not familiar with.
  • The laab moo was pretty good and well flavoured being spicier than I expected.
  • It had quite the kick to it with dried chili flakes and it was the perfect amount of medium hot spicy for me. It’s not burn-your-tongue-off Thai spicy either.
  • The pork was all ground and crumbly (but usually the chunks are even smaller than this) and was mixed with lots of nutty toasted rice and Thai herbs like basil and mint.
  • I couldn’t taste the mint, but it was aromatic especially with the toasted rice which I could really taste.
  • It was savoury from fish sauce, sweet from some sugar, tangy from the lime juice, spicy from the chili, nutty from the rice, and carried great flavour.
  • The pork itself was slightly on the dry side, and the pork is usually more minced up than how it was served here.
  • In case you’re curious, here is an authentic larb from Hong Kong and my favourite thus far – see Tuk Tuk Thai Restaurant.

Roasted Duck Red Curry3/6 (Good)

  • Coconut milk-based red curry with roasted duck, basil, lychee, tomato, pineapple and bamboo shoot $13.50
  • If the duck hadn’t been dry and there were more pieces I would say it’s a 4.5/6.
  • This sounded like the most different curry on the menu. I’ve had versions of it before at Malaysian, Chinese, and some Thai places, but it’s a rare find.
  • This was a really rich and hearty curry and the sauce reminded me of Penang Curry meets a red curry because it was sweeter than a typical red curry.
  • The curry is on the sweeter side, but I did really enjoy it and it was creamy, but not that thick in texture.
  • There was no duck flavour in the sauce, unlike the one from Sawasdee Thai too.
  • The texture and flavour seemed like they only used coconut milk and little/no coconut cream, but I find this style of curry with the duck is better with more cream.
  • There wasn’t a heavy lemongrass flavour. It had a nice acidic cherry tomato base and lime juice, and it was also spicier than I expected with a flavourful aroma of Thai basil.
  • It was definitely a sweet and savoury curry and the addition of fresh chunks of ripe pineapple and plump canned sweet lychee just made it sweeter.
  • I liked the pineapple much more than the lychee, just because canned lychee never really does it for me, but it’s an understandable substitution for the real thing since we are in Vancouver.
  • Duck and fruit go very well together though and I did like it.
  • If you like sweet and sour pork with pineapples, you’ll appreciate this.
  • There wasn’t that much duck, but a whole lot of sauce and bamboo shoots, which I found were on the soft side.
  • The duck pieces were all slices and it wasn’t overly fatty, but the skin was thin and slightly chewy.
  • Half the duck I had was pretty dry and half was okay. If the duck was good, it would be 4.5/6.
  • I could have used the addition of one more vegetable too like peppers or eggplant, which can be and has been used for this dish before.
  • I also tried the Duck Curry at Sawasdee Thai restaurant a couple blocks away and I liked them almost the same, but for different reasons.

Pad Thai4/6 (Very good)

  • A Thai classic of fried rice noodles with prawns, tofu, peanuts, egg and bean sprouts $12
  • No sign of ketchup is a good sign of authenticity, but using tamarind sauce is not the only thing that makes a pad Thai “authentic”.
  • It needs to have all the components and this one did, but I just wished the ingredients were executed in more abundance or bigger pieces.
  • The noodles weren’t wet or overcooked or too greasy, so I was liking that.
  • It was well balanced with sweet, tangy, savoury and spicy flavours without being too much of anything.
  • It was well coated with the tangy tamarind sauce and I could always use more toasted peanuts, but the amount given was okay.
  • There were maybe 6 shrimps which were crunchy and not overcooked.
  • The tofu was cut up really small and he used a marinated smoky firm tofu which I like, but the pieces should be bigger.
  • There wasn’t much egg, but a good amount of fresh bean sprouts and chives, and it was a good Pad Thai, but I prefer the one at Khunnai Chang Madame Elephant Cuisine in downtown, Vancouver better.

Jasmine Rice 

  • $1.50
  • The rice was moist and fine, but I was surprised they didn’t offer coconut rice.

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8 Comments

  • LotusRapper says:

    “If it was called Chaiyaanuntchanipornsupaporn Likes Thai Food, I maybe more convinced… ”

    LOL, you strike again, wow you’re on a roll right after the “10 Things to Look for When Dining Vietnamese! ” jig 😀

    I guess a hypothetical place called “Chaiyaanuntchanipornsupaporn Likes Haggis” wouldn’t sound too authentic neither, then. LOL.

    Ya know, we frequent Main strip and I must have gone to BLTF’s predecessor (City Temple Of Shanghai) 4-5 times, but somehow we just never made it to BLTF yet since they opened. Guess we did a lot of Thai resto scene in the 90’s and just somehow fell off the wagon.

    BTW, bit of trivia ….. Sawasdee at Main & 27th is supposedly (as told by my foodie friends) the very first Thai resto in Vancouver.

  • fmed says:

    I haven’t been to BLT in quite a while. (Since March-ish?). I thought that BLT, while not “great”, did very competent renditions of a number of Thai dishes (both North and South). Considering that we are surrounded by really bland, mediocre Thai restaurants, BLT was a breath of fresh air. That said, they always did have problems with consistency.

    When Tai opened, he was serving the usual Bangkok Thai standards. Then he started serving a flurry of select Northern dishes. And now from I gather from your review – he has removed those from his menu. Did he have any other Northern on the menu other than the miang kham? Laarb is sort of Northern /Issan. Did he have the sausages? How about his northern desserts?

    We had an special all-Northern dinner there last year which was really good…so it is too bad that he seems to be backtracking. This seems to happen to most off-the-beaten-track ethnic restaurants here in Vancouver. We may need to head back down to Portland to get a real Thai fix.

    Tai was also considering re-applying for a food cart license this year. (He did last year, but didn’t get a spot). He was thinking of a Thai BBQ chicken cart. Now that would be good.

    Off-topic:
    I love cooking with Piper Sarmentosum (chaipu/la lot/betel leaves etc). I have fresh ones in my fridge now. (I’m making bo la lot for a NYE gathering.)

  • Linda says:

    i don’t know how many times i’ve come across this place and i’ve always wondered how good it really was – one of my favorite cheap thai places is this place on main and broadway called ‘pad thai’ – super cheap eats and the food is pretty good too!

    mm the laab looks good but i wish the sauce that it was cooked in was a bit thicker – it almost looks soupy here! the pad thai looks good and i love that it isn’t a bright shade of red from the ketchup.. i made pad thai once and it definitely is a lot of work so i;m glad this one was yummy!

    no dessert mijune!!??

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – omg!!! I tried Sawasdee right after this experience.. my post is coming soon!!! sorry to get back to you so late! I’m so happy you understand my humour by the way!! It’s really not meant to be serious 🙂 Yes the Thai scene isn’t necessarily improving, but hopefully i just haven’t tried the right place yet!

    @fmed – he didn’t have the sausages or many northern Thai dishes! all I saw were those lettuce wraps in the teacups! Have you tried Khunnai Chung btw? That was actually pretty good I think!

    Hmm Thai BBQ chicken cart.. I thought there used to be a satay stick on near Davie and Burrard? I think it ended up closing though.

    Yeah I’m super jealous of your special night at BLTF! Hopefully one day he’ll include more of that stuff on his current menu, but it’s already been a couple years… 🙁

    How did you find the Chaipu leaves?!

    @Linda – Hmm I need to find out about this Pad Thai place!!! oh and wait!! i had dessert AFTER this!! Zucchini Chocolate muffin at JJ Bean… 😉 The kitchen was closing here 🙁

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune ….. never worry with humour with me, I’m a joker at heart (laughter is the best medicine) !

    I’m so out of touch with the Thai scene. Haven’t even been to Maenam !

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – lol it’s okay! Neither have I lol

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