Friday, January 29, 2010

Tangthai - A Complimentary Tasting


Tangthai Cuisine of Thailand

1779 Robson Street, Vancouver

Tangthai Cuisine of Thailand on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 4

Price: Fair

A week ago, Ben from Chow Times invited a bunch of food bloggers to join them for a tasting at a new Thai restaurant located in downtown Vancouver. In the end, Sherman (Sherman's Food Adventures), Kevin (604Foodtography), Mijune (Follow Me Foodie), and myself attended. There was no expectations from Tangthai, and we were free to write as we pleased.

Tangthai is conveniently located near the corner of Robson and Denman right next to Little Tea House. After everyone arrived, there was a brief introduction to the owners Sonia and Deo, then we were given a tour of their restaurant. It looks modern and chic that suits the downtown look/feel, but it also had many beautiful decorations imported directly from Thailand.
Our first dish was the Prawn Skirt ($8.95), which is pretty much a spring roll stuffed with pork, crab meat, prawn and water chestnut. This reminded me a lot like the Vietnamese type spring rolls, but they did not use the rice wrap. The springs rolls were fried to a golden crisp, and with the sweet and slightly spicy dipping sauce, it was a delicious combination. I love the stuffing as well, it was very well seasoned, but I couldn't really detect the crab meat by taste, but I could see it in the spring roll. Next up is the satay skewers ($13.50 for 8). This was the only dish that I actually disliked. Both the beef and chicken were quite dry. The peanut sauce was very smooth, thus it tasted just like peanut butter out of a jar. However I also dislike peanut, so I may be bias on this one.Our next dish was individual Tom Kha Kai soup which translates to spicy chicken coconut soup ($3.95). I loved the taste of lemongrass, chili and coconut milk. I can taste a hint of fish sauce and lime. This is pretty much the taste of Tom Yum Goong with coconut milk. The chicken pieces in this soup were tender, and the vegetables are soft. In a nut shell, I liked it.
When the Pla Rad Prik ($15.95) came, another round of flashes went off. People at a table closed by said "Everyone at that table is taking picture of that dish, we want to try that one." LOL! This fried tilapia fish was so crispy, you can eat the bones. I mean if I said the meat was dry, that would be a understatement. However after conversing with Sonia, she told us it was suppose to be like that, that's the way people in Thailand eat it. So once you know that fact, you can't really properly judge something like that, just because you are not use to it. Anyways, the sauce for the fish was actually very delicious, it was a sweet and sour with a hint of spiciness. It also had some chunky pieces of pepper corn, so be carefully when you eat it.The squid stuffed with minced chicken and vermicelli was very unique. I haven't seen or tried this at any other restaurant. The stuffed squid was cooked in a green curry sauce with figs. I usually dislike squid due to it's rubbery texture, but this one was actually quite good. The minced stuffing has made it less rubbery by adding new taste and texture. Because the green curry sauce is very strong, thus I couldn't really tell the individual flavors within the stuffing itself. At first I thought the stuffing had eggs, but it turned out I was wrong, it's just chicken and vermicelli. There were also these baby figs(not entirely sure if that's what they were), but I don't see how this contribute anything to the dish, as it was actually bitter when you bite into it. This dish was not on their regular menu, it's something new they are trying out. This one will cost $16.95 when it's on the menu, and I would certainly order it again, as I said before it was very unique and also delicious.The lemongrass beef (Nua Pad Takhai $13.95) was actually one of my favorite for the night. The beef was sauteed enough to be cooked, but not over cooked. The sauce had a strong lemon grass flavor without visible sliced lemon grass. I think they grounded up the lemon grass to a point, you can't even see it. I would certainly order this again.
Our next dish was the deep fried eggplant and Basa fillet. I don't think this item was on the menu yet, but it will probably be around $15.95 when it does. The eggplant was very well done, it was lightly battered and fried to a golden crisp, but the eggplant itself remained soft. The Basa fillet was also batter and deep fried, but it was a different type of coating, and it wasn't as crispy as the egg plant. I preferred the eggplant more than the fish. Both were smothered in a non-spicy curry sauce.
This herb BBQ chicken with dip is also not on the menu. It's your basic herb rubbed BBQ chicken with a special Thai dipping sauce. The chicken did not really have much flavor by itself. The dip consisted of soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, cilantro and some grounded burnt rice cracker sprinkled on top, there also might be some fish sauce, but I am not too sure about that. Although the dish was good, but it didn't wow me. It was just your standard BBQ chicken with dip.
When you are at a Thai restaurant, you got to try their Pad Thai, as it is a symbol of Thai cuisine. It's suppose to be a tamarind base Pad Thai (Pad Thai Krung $12.95), but the tamarind taste was not very distinct. After the first bite, it seems to be missing something, a usually sour/tangy taste. After chatting with the Sonia, she said the Pad Thai here changed to a more westernized version, where they add a bit of tomato sauce for that sour taste and slightly red color, but the original Pad Thai in Thailand is this version we are having. I guess you really can't judge the authenticity until you had the original in Thailand that is. (Time to buy a plane ticket and revisit of one of my hometown ^^)Our last dish was the cashew chicken ($12.95). This was the mildest dish we had all night. It wasn't spicy, although the description said it had some kind of peppers in it. It was more of a sweet taste to it than anything. Although it was good, but it didn't really stand out in any way. This tasted more like a Chinese dish than Thai dish.
Our first dessert of the night is the Thai Tea Pudding. It consisted of 3 layers: whipping cream, sponge cake and the actual pudding. The pudding was simple enough, but it was actually quite good without being too sweet. It was basically a very creamy milk tea turned into a pudding. There was a distinct aroma of tea that linger as you take a bite. The sponge cake was really chewy, and I felt that it didn't contribute anything to the dessert.Personally, I think a mixture of the whipping cream and pudding would be suffice.Our second dessert was tapioca soup with coconut jelly and sliced jack fruit. I did not like this because there was a very distinct salty taste, which I am uncertain if it was intended to be this way or not. Also the was served to us luke warm, once again I don't know if this was intended that way. So this dessert was warm, and tasted sweet and salty at the same time, which I am not a big fan of.Here is the back panel of their menu, it showcased some of the herbs used in Thai cooking. I'm pretty sure we had a taste of almost all of them.

As I already mentioned in the title, this was a complimentary meal. However I stand by my review as being non-bias, as I am only talking about the food here without any other consideration. With all that being said, I think I will go back for 2 reasons. 1. It's convinently located, so if I'm ever heading down to Stanley Park or English Bay, I will definitely consider going there. 2. The food is actually good, although some I did wasn't particularly fond of, but lots of the other ones I did like.


Follow Me Foodie January 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Great post!! I'm so glad I met you there, it was fun huh?

I agree the eggplant was better than the fish for me too. It seems like we more or less liked the same things.

Your photos are way better than mine and you used a point and shoot! I need practice!!

Jenny January 29, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Thank, your post was so much more detailed than mine. Yeah the eggplant was great, fish was okay.

Correction, my photos are also Photoshopped for better lighting and contrast :)

Tia January 31, 2010 at 10:37 PM

wow, they'll have to fight for mjarket share. i wonder how they'll do it - there are already so many thai places around.

Jenny February 1, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Well... at least they are located near the end of Robson, maybe that will be an advantage. I guess only time will tell

Victoria's Food Secrets February 4, 2010 at 12:16 AM

One comment I just wanted to note about the tapioca soup with jackfruit and coconut jelly. Quite often I find that in Thailand, they like to mix salty and sweet together. It always threw me off growing up, since my mom would serve fresh cut-up pineapple, but add salt to it. She said it was to bring out the sweet flavour further. When I travelled there the first time as an adult, I noticed that this was very common after all, and not only did they add salt at the fruit stalls, but there'd often be a bit of chili spice in the packet as well! I'm on your side though, I'm not a huge fan of salty and sweet unless it's chocolate covered pretzels. ;)

Jenny February 4, 2010 at 8:09 AM

thank you Victoria for clearing that up. You know what now I think about it... it's so true. When I use to live in Thailand, they sell cut up pineapple with little packet of salt, some plum powder and some red bits, I guess that's the chili flakes.

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