Eats, chews and leaves: Baan Thai is worth a try

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“Are you Thai-ing up some loose ends tonight?” my friend asked me en route to dinner.

“Well, I have been craving Thai food . . . wait, was that a pun?”

“Thought of it this morning!”

And thus began our evening at Baan Thai restaurant in Oak Bay.

For a Tuesday night after 7 p.m., the space was surprisingly full. Only a few bamboo tables remained unoccupied.

Even with the international menu, the overall atmosphere felt incredibly familiar. I spotted a family eagerly passing dishes around, a large group of women catching up over glasses of wine and a couple possibly on a blind date.

I was feeling a tad drowsy after a full day on campus, so I tipped back a Thai iced coffee ($3). The combination of strong black java, sweetened milk and a touch of spice (usually cardamom, cinnamon and anise) is an intriguing change from the ordinary coffee and milk pairing.

All the dishes at Baan Thai are large enough to share, and with a dinner menu spanning 60 entrées, you’ll most likely be tempted by more than one. Despite all this, my friend and I ordered separate dishes. She lives for the burn and requested her Guay Teow Kee Mao Gai ($12.50) to be spiced hot.

If you don’t speak Thai, her dish consisted of rice noodles flash-fried with chicken, egg, onion, red and green bell pepper, chili and sweet basil. I braved the inferno erupting within my mouth for a taste. The sweet basil makes all the difference, balancing out the heat of the chili. Even so, it was too spicy for my sensitive palate.

I opted for a mild version of Phad Thai Goong ($13.50). I believe Phad Thai is so popular because it’s the perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Phad Thai solves all my cravings because it hits all four flavour notes.

The Phad Thai Goong starts with a base of rice noodles, as is customary, and incorporates prawns, tofu, egg, green onion, salted radish, carrot ribbons and ground peanut. It is flavoured with oyster sauce and tamarind. Tamarind has a naturally occurring sour and sweet taste, perfect with the salty oyster sauce.

The portions are large enough for two meals or for very hungry individuals. My friend succeeded in clearing her plate, while I took home leftovers.

About 30 per cent of the dinner menu is vegetarian (that’s including dishes containing seafood), and 52 out of the 60 are gluten-free.

I was curious what Thai dessert entailed, so I tried the Supparod Tod & Ice Cream, a deep-fried pineapple dish ($5.75). Give it a pass. The fruit came from a can and the batter was greasy.

If you decide to visit, let me know what puns you come up with.

 

3 out of 5 stars

Oak Bay
104-2000 Cadboro Bay Road
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9:30 p.m.
Saturday: 5–9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5–9 p.m. 

Downtown
1117 Blanshard Street
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5–9 p.m.

Broadmead
400-777 Royal Oak Drive
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5–9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5–9 p.m.

Delivery after 4 p.m.
Twitter: @BaanThaiVicBC

 

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