Tom Yum Thai
A couple of years ago, as we were driving around in North Burnaby, I noticed an old diner had been transformed into Tom Yum Thai. Being an aspiring foodie at the time, I naturally stopped and gave it a try. It was underwhelming, to say the least. I can’t even remember what dishes we had. Since then I hadn’t given it a second thought. Then I saw that Jessica from Yum-O-Rama had paid them a visit and put up a post. It became apparent that another visit was in order.
The day after reading Jessica’s post I went on a solo scouting mission. When I read her post, the first thing I thought about was a possible Friday lunch gathering. No sense dragging the gang out for a mess of mediocre grub.
Whenever I visit a Thai restaurant for the first time I order Pad Thai. It seems imperative that any successful, authentic Thai restaurant will produce an above-average version of this plate. For the longest time I had Thai Cafe ranked as the best Pad Thai in Burnaby. Tom Yum’s Pad Thai is equal, if not better.
This is top-notch Pad Thai. Rice noodles, perfectly cooked, lathered in a sweet, spicy and tart tamarind sauce…several tender prawns, tofu and crunchy sprouts…a really good balance of ingredients. The unique part is the ground peanuts and roasted ground chilies on the side. This allows the diner to season everything to their liking.
So far, very good. It’s time to call in the troops and have a feast!
First off, a couple of appetizers.
Crispy Wontons with Chicken. Very good…light, flavourful and perfectly fried.
Somtam (Green Papaya Salad). This was a big hit. Cool, crunchy and refreshing yet packing a whole bunch of chilified heat. Funny thing. Everyone noted how hot this was yet couldn’t seem to get enough of it!
Allow me to explain an interesting anomaly in Tom Yum’s menu pricing. Their lunch combo specials are all in the $8.50 to $9.50 range. These dishes are a smaller portion but include two spring rolls and a green salad. Their regular menu items (without the rolls and salad) are a larger portion but are generally around the same price. Most Thai restaurants, I’ve found, charge three or four dollars more on the regular menu. The regular menu items here are a steal. You can check out the entire menu here.
For our main dishes we started with all four of their curries. Each one rich and deep with it’s own distinct flavour. Extremely well-made curries bursting with fresh basil, kaffir lime leaves, crisp vegetables, coconut milk and tender, lean meats. Welcome to flavour country, my friends!!
Red Curry with Pork.
Green Curry with Chicken.
Yellow Curry with Tofu.
Panang Curry with Beef.
Along with the excellent curries we had two more entrees.
Pad Krapao with Chicken. Another well-executed dish. Loads of garlic, a nice dose of chili and redolent with Thai basil.
Pad Sweet and Sour with Chicken. This was a bit too sweet and overloaded with sauce but delicious, nonetheless.
Another cool part of our meal was the presentation of the Jasmine Coconut Rice.
At first glance, this appears to be a heavy, metallic urn. It turns out to be light plastic which makes it much easier to pass around.
It’s very obvious that the cooks here are quite skilled. They are authentic cooks from Thailand with many years of experience. That experience is highlighted in each and every dish. The amount of attention and care that goes into every dish along with the value-pricing makes this spot a rare find.
I don’t normally use the phrases “hole-in-the-wall” and “hidden gem”. They seem to get thrown around a bit too much…not here.
Another, final point I’d like to make is about the service. One very bright young lady and damn near a full house. Two tables of eight and a dozen other customers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. Every request was met with a happy smile. Every plate delivered in timely fashion. It was exceptional, flawless really. Great food, great service, a warm & clean environment along with value-pricing? Tom Yum Thai ranks amongst the best restaurants Burnaby has to offer.