Chad Thai

Restaurant: Chad Thai
Cuisine: Thai
Last visited: April 19, 2012
Location: Burnaby, BC (Burnaby North)
Address: 4010 E Hastings Street
Transit: EB Hastings St FS Boundary Rd
Price Range: $10-20 ($8-12 mains)

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

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Thai family owned/operated
  • Pretty authentic Thai
  • Very casual
  • Extensive menu
  • Family friendly
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Affordable
  • Budget friendly/Cheap eats
  • Accepts credit card
  • Lunch specials
  • *NO MSG
  • Dine In/Take Out
  • Tues-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-9:30pm
  • Saturday 1-9:30pm
  • Sunday 5pm-9:30pm
  • Closed Monday

**Recommendations: Tom Yum Soup, Tom Yum Noodle, Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), Laap, Pad Gra Pao with Fried Egg, Thai Iced Tea

It’s the 1st Annual Crave: Dine Out in Burnaby Heights next week and Chad Thai is one of the participating restaurants in the 3-day event. During the event they will be offering $20 and $25 3 course set menus – see their menus here. While the set menus cater to a particular clientele, I was actually more interested in the a la carte items. I love exploring menus and trying new things and there are certain items I look for when dining Thai, which aren’t on the set menu. So on behalf of Burnaby Heights I was pleased to check out Chad Thai.

The restaurant was easily overlooked and I actually missed it driving by. It’s a small restaurant that blends in on the strip and it doesn’t look like anything special, but it is Thai owned and operated. I’m unfamiliar with the area and I heard good things about the restaurant, but I wouldn’t have considered Burnaby Heights to satisfy my craving for Thai food. However, I will travel for food. I know good authentic Thai food is rare in Vancouver, but until I try them all I can’t say it doesn’t exist.

I have to admit I judge a book by its cover when dining at ethnic restaurants. If it’s not a hole in the wall for Vietnamese I’m not as interested, and if the clientele is not Chinese at a Chinese restaurant I’ll probably pass. I can’t deny a satisfaction when I see people of that culture dining at a restaurant that specializes in food from their culture. There is just a higher chance it’s legit when people who know the food are the ones eating there too, especially when there isn’t much selection in that category to begin with. The clientele here was predominantly non-Thai (not that we have much of a Thai population in Vancouver to start with), so I had my hesitations that the food would be sacrificed, however my assumptions were silenced once I actually tried the food. To be honest, it was a pleasant surprise!

Metro Vancouver has a lot of Thai restaurants, but many I’ve tried haven’t delivered in terms of authentic Thai cuisine. I mean we’re never going to have Thai food as good as Thailand, and let’s be reasonable, we’re not in Thailand so ingredients are limited. What is “authentic” is also debatable and in the end it comes down to what you enjoyed, but for the most part watered down Thai food and ketchup based Pad Thai aren’t proper representations of Thai food. It was a sigh of relief that I didn’t get any of that here.

It’s a good sign when I can’t decide what I want more of because everything was pretty good and made with authentic Thai ingredients. Besides a few things here and there, it was solid. I can’t speak for their set menu because I opted for the a la carte, but almost everything is $9-10 so even without the event the menu is very affordable. I would actually suggest ordering off the set menu. There are some things I tried that were a bit more unique to this restaurant, and those items I would come back for. Some things I found on par to certain Thai restaurants in and around Vancouver, but if you’re in the Burnaby Heights area, Chad Thai is a good option.

Note: Today is the last day to enter my 1st Annual Crave: Dine Out in Burnaby Heights contest – see here. If you don’t win this contest there is also another chance to win $50 to dine out upon visiting any one of the restaurants during Crave.

On the table:

**Som Tum4/6 (Very good)

  • A well known Thai salad! Shredded green papaya and carrot pounded in the mortar and pestle with lime and tamarind juice, dried shrimp, green beans, tomatoes, fresh chili and peanuts $7.99
  • I’ve had Thai green papaya salads before and this one was pretty good, fresh and refreshing. The portion was appetizer size, but shareable for two.
  • It was well balanced with tons of bright flavour and zing.
  • There was sweetness from palm sugar, saltiness from fish sauce, tang from the tamarind, bright acidity from lime juice and spice from the chili (spicy level upon request).
  • The green papaya is an unripened papaya so it’s not sweet, but crunchy like a radish.
  • It’s slightly tart, but refreshing and it doesn’t taste like fresh ripe papaya at all. The flavour is rather neutral and more radish like, but juicy from the sauce.
  • There was a good mix of ingredients and a generous amount of toasted whole peanuts which are usually crushed. I didn’t mind them whole though.
  • The dried shrimps were bigger than normal which is usually a good thing, but these ones were slightly hard and chewy so they could have soaked for a bit longer.
  • There was a good amount of fish vinaigrette and the sauce is sweeter than the ingredients.
  • Ideally this would have fresh basil, fresh cilantro and dried shrimp paste used to make the vinaigrette, but I was still satisfied with what I got.
  • In Thailand these salads are often served with sticky rice or grilled chicken skewers.

**Laap4/6 (Very good)

  • Warm salad of ground chicken/pork with lime juice, red onions, green onions, coriander, ground chili and pounded roasted rice $8.99
  • Laap or Larb is my “must order item” at any Thai restaurant I visit. It’s a staple for many Thai people too.
  • It’s best with pork and the portion was appetizer size, but shareable for two.
  • The dish didn’t come with many lettuce leaves and I prefer romaine over iceberg lettuce.
  • It’s essentially a Thai lettuce wrap and the the meat was served warm and well balanced with sweet, salty, sour and spicy.
  • There was only cilantro and no fresh basil leaves, so I missed the basil, but I could taste all the other ingredients.
  • The roasted rice was very finely ground and it gives that nutty background and subtle texture that made the dish aromatic without having nuts.
  • The meat was juicy and it was a good larb for Vancouver standards.
  • Bob Likes Thai Food does an I-San style one – see their Laab Moo, and just for curiosity’s sake this was an amazing one I had in Hong Kong at Tuk Tuk Thai – see their Larb Moo.

Panang Curry 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Choice of chicken/beef/pork, red pepper, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, ground peanut in panang curry with coconut milk $9.99
  • I ordered this with beef and it was the only thing I wasn’t as keen on just because I’ve had better versions of it elsewhere.
  • It came with a decent amount of beef and lots of red and green bell peppers.
  • I could have used lots more lime leaves and Thai basil leaves because there was hardly any, but the flavour of the sauce was good.
  • The curry paste I would question if it was being made in house because I couldn’t taste the finely ground ingredients to make it.
  • It lacked that intensity and aromatics of authentic home made Thai curry paste.
  • Panang curry tends to be very rich and creamy and on the sweet side, but this one was considered a bit thin although still creamy.
  • It was smooth, sweet and nutty with the smooth peanut butter melted into the sauce (which is typical), but then the heat came at the end and lingered. I asked for it medium-hot.
  • The beef was tender, but I was okay on the quality of it.
  • The Keang Panang Pla at Pink Elephant Thai is actually pretty good if they still make it the same and I liked that curry paste and sauce better.
  • Personally I like the panang best so far at Khunnai Chang Madame Elephant Thai Cuisine – see their Gaeng Panang Nuea.
Steamed Rice
  • $2
  • Yes, I take a picture of rice because you wouldn’t believe how often I’ve had it screwed up.
  • Too wet, too dry, served cold or even day old. It’s a simple thing but thankfully it was fine here and served hot.

**Pad Gra Pao4/6 (Very good)

  • Stir fried ground chicken/pork, green beans, garlic, fresh chili and Thai holy basil $9.99
  • Holy moly! Yes! They used Thai holy basil. It’s extremely rare to find a Thai restaurant that will use Thai holy basil to make this and they did!
  • I actually prefer Pad Gra Pao to be served with a fried egg on top (how it’s often served in Thailand), and it’s how they would serve it for lunch, so I just ended up requesting it.
  • This is considered classic Thai street food or comfort food.
  • It’s a quick one dish stir fry and is normally served over rice.
  • They offered it with Maggi Sauce (authentically a Swiss ingredient that is often mistaken for being an Asian ingredient). Enjoying this with Maggi sauce is quite typical, but not authentic.
  • Pad Gra Pao is best enjoyed spicy and it’s authentically served with a side of spicy fish sauce rather than Maggi sauce.
  • This almost tastes like a Chinese dish.
  • Unfortunately the fried egg was almost well done so there was no runny yolk for me to photograph.
  • It was medium ground pork with a sweetened soy sauce and fish sauce. It was two kinds of salty – sharp and slightly sweet, but not too salty.
  • The meat wasn’t overcooked and had good wok aroma, but I could have used more garlic.
  • It was equal pork and beans and the beans aren’t always served with this dish, but I liked the addition.
  • I especially liked that the beans were diced to match the pork in size.
  • The beans and sweet red bell peppers were cooked perfectly and the Thai Holy basil added great aromatics.
  • Thai Holy basil is not Thai basil and it’s hard to source in Vancouver.
  • It has a slightly fuzzy texture and a mildly peppery flavour.
  • Usually the dish uses more Thai Holy basil than the amount used here.
  • The beans were squeaky and crunchy while retaining their colour and shape and together with the juicy crumbly pork it was simply delightful.
  • The only downfall was the fully cooked egg and the lack of dried chili peppers sautéed in the mix. The red peppers were unusual, but I liked them.
  • The only place I’ve had this even better is at Thai Basil – see their Pad Grapow, but this was still very good here and I would order it again. Just using Thai Holy Basil is half the battle.
Pad Thai 3.5/6 (Good-Very Good)
  • Stir fried thin rice noodles in tamarind sauce, tofu, salted radish, egg, chive, bean sprouts and ground peanuts $9.99 (Tiger prawn) $8.99 (Chicken of Tofu)
  • The tiger prawns were frozen, but they didn’t taste bad and they were cooked well and still crunchy. It came with about 5-6.
  • It was served authentically with a wedge of lime, toasted chili flakes on the side, raw bean sprouts, and most importantly it was tamarind based and not ketchup based.
  • The ketchup based Pad Thai actually doesn’t taste bad to me, but it terms of authentic Pad Thai the ketchup is certainly not authentic.
  • The noodles weren’t greasy or overcooked and they had a nice chew.
  • They were a bit clumpy and on the drier side but not dry, they had a good wok aroma too.
  • There was lots of tofu and not much egg and barely any peanuts or salted radish so I missed more of those ingredients.
  • The noodles were salty, sweet and tangy from the tamarind so the flavour was good, but the ratio of ingredients a bit off.
  • Although the Pad Thai was still good, the ones from Bob Likes Thai Food and Khunnai Chang Madame Elephant Thai Cuisine do the Pad Thai justice as well. I’m not sure where you live, but any of these will satisfy an authentic Pad Thai craving.

**Tom Yum Noodle5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • Thin rice noodles in spicy and sour creamy soup with white mushrooms, coriander, lemongrass, red onions, kaffir lime leaves and galangal $9.99 (Tiger prawn or fish fillet) $8.99 (Chicken of Tofu)
  • If I was to come back for something that is special to this restaurant, it would be for this! This was fantastic!
  • I haven’t seen it offered anywhere else and according to the owner it started in Thailand about 5 years ago. (I’ve tried the Thai Soup Noodle bowls at the now closed Charm Modern Thai, but this was different.)
  • It’s considered a relatively new Thai dish in Vancouver and it was basically the Thai version of Vietnamese pho.
  • The Tom Yum soup is the same Tom Yum soup they serve a la carte, but their version was different than the others I’ve had in Metro Vancouver.
  • The soup had a coconut base and the flavour was incredibly aromatic. The soup made the difference.
  • It was creamy, but not thick and rich and there was some sweet and spicy house made “chili jam” mixed into the base. I think that was the secret.
  • Every sip was addicting because the broth was so well made with layers of flavour.
  • It was a chicken based broth and I could actually taste the fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal (related to the ginger) flavour throughout.
  • It wasn’t particularly gingery, but the aromatics were so intense and I’ve never felt so passionately about Thai soup.
  • It wasn’t that spicy, but you can request spicier. The coconut milk makes it more mild and I would consider it a medium.
  • It was well balanced with sweetness from palm sugar, savoury from fish sauce and a pop of lime juice which made all the flavours come alive.

  • The noodles were slightly chewy and not overcooked. There was a good amount of them too.
  • It came with a whole lot of sliced chicken breast, mushrooms, crunchy half cooked onions, bean sprouts, Thai herbs and ingredients and it would be perfect on a cold day.
  • It wasn’t even as spicy as most Thai soups although it carried heat from the chili jam.
  • If you like this I would also recommend the Pho Bo Satay from Pho Tan. It’s totally different and not comparable, but the flavour profile is similar and it’s equally as delicious.

**Thai Iced Tea4/6 (Very good)

  • I love Thai ice tea and this one was legit.
  • It came pre-mixed, but it was real Thai tea and they used condensed milk for that extra creamy, rich and sweet flavour. That’s how it’s authentically made and they would serve it in plastic bags with a straw in the streets of Thailand.
  • It’s a sweet drink, but not hurt your teeth sweet and it’s easily enjoyed after dinner as a dessert.
  • I just realized it’s the reason why I’m still wide awake right now… and it’s 5am. It was worth it though.
  • Personally I think they should offer this in ice cream form as well like they did at Charm Modern Thai before it closed – see Homemade Thai Tea Ice Cream.

Daily Thai Dessert (Black Bean Soup)2/6 (Okay)

  • $3.50
  • I’m not keen on red bean anything, but black bean is different.
  • This was basically the Thai version of Chinese red bean soup, but I actually could tolerate this and I didn’t hate it. I surprised myself and had more than 3 sips!
  • The black bean was firm and not sweet and it was a black bean that I would associate with savoury food.
  • It was in a lightly sweetened with palm sugar coconut broth and the beans weren’t mushy and it didn’t taste chalky or mealy.
  • It was served warm.

Home Made Coconut Ice Cream with Toppings3/6

  • $4
  • For the price it was good, but for what it could have been it was okay.
  • If you’re not picky about ice cream it’s fine, but I kind of am and I was expecting more coconut flavour which I found quite subtle in this case.
  • Kudos for making their own ice cream though. Honestly I was expecting the dessert menu to be premade Mario’s Gelato selections, but it wasn’t!
  • It was made with real coconut milk, but it could have used some coconut extract and Mario’s gelato probably has more coconut flavour.
  • The ice cream was really icy and non custard based.
  • I think they used all coconut milk (canned and fresh) and maybe some coconut cream. It wasn’t creamy ice cream though.
  • The ice cream wasn’t that sweet and I think it could use some real toasted coconut flakes.
  • The toppings were toasted cashews and palm seeds which are naturally a bit slimy and coated with a sugar syrup.
  • The palm seeds come canned and they’re slightly sweet and not as sweet or fragrant as lychee, but in a way similar.
  • They are firmer, a bit chewy and I guess more like coconut jelly in texture.
  • They are not as juicy as lychee and it has a very mildly sweet and subtle flavour.
Mango Sticky Rice – n/a
  • They have a special Mango Sticky Rice for dessert, but unfortunately they sold out during lunch.
  • It’s a Thai Mango served with coconut sticky rice which needs to be made the day before.
  • I would call and reserve this “Mango Sticky Rice” dessert if it’s so popular here. I will next time!
  • They offer the dessert at Pink Elephant Thai – see Three Princesses and I’ve had it at Koh Thai in Hong Kong before too – see Thai Sticky Rice & Mango, but I would be very curious to try it here.

Thai Mango

  • This is what they used for their Mango Sticky Rice dessert.
  • There are several types of mangoes in Thailand and each have a unique flavour.
  • I forgot the name for the variety they used here, but it was similar to the Philippine mango.
  • It is incredibly sweet, fragrant, floral, juicy and honey like in flavour. It melts in your mouth and is not fiberous.
  • This was just a sample although you might be able to order it alone upon request for additional charge.
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