A couple weeks back, while waiting on a table at Red Star Seafood, we noticed Talay Thai right across the street. Even with a reservation, we’d been waiting almost thirty minutes. We were three empty stomachs dying for a feed. The thought of Thai curries and spicy noodles was starting to overwhelm us. Just as we were about to head over, the hostess called us in. Ah well, dim sum it is…
Talay Thai is a spot I’ve been meaning to hit up for a long, long time. With a continual stream of raves around the web, I got to figuring that this place was a sure thing.
This is one vibrantly colored, tiny room. It’s about as clean as you could imagine, to boot. The moment you enter there’s a warm, comfortable vibe. I’m sensing a great feed!
Por Pia Tod ปอเปี๊ยะทอด (Vegetarian Spring Rolls). Nothing too spectacular yet really well made. Knowing the plum sauce is homemade gave these a step up. It’s not too often a place will take the time and effort to create their own.
The Satay Chicken were sensational. Just plump enough to withstand the grill time without getting dry. A good, long marination gave these so much flavor that the peanut sauce was almost unnecessary.
After having an excellent Som Tum ส้มตำ (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) at Lhy Thai, I thought we’d be in for a letdown. Not to worry. This hit the mark. It’s a veritable explosion of flavors. Crisp green beans, tangy shredded papaya, crunchy toasted peanuts swimming in a sweet and sour chili-lime mix with savory fish sauce and shrimp paste to round it all out. Thailand on a plate.
Pad Med Mamuang Himaphan ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์ (Cashew Chicken). Another extremely well-executed dish…not a shortcut in sight. I found an interesting tidbit about this dish from Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott, an immeasurable source of Thai recipes:
“There is a little confusion in the name of the dish: mamuang is mango, but in the full formal Thai language mamuang himaphan is a cashew nut; the logic is as follows: himaphan refers to the Brahministic equivalent of the Garden of Eden, and the bean in which the cashew nut grows is similar to a small mango, hence the cashew is the “mango of paradise”. However this leads to one of those delightful double recipes, which is a sort of culinary pun, which the Thais seem to be particularly fond of. To add an element of piqancy to the dish you can include a small amount of shredded mango – it is however quite optional if you prefer to leave it out.”
When we placed our order and were asked for a heat level, the consensus was “medium”. Therefore, I threw on an order for Phrik Nam Pla พริกน้ำปลา (Thai chilis in fish sauce). This ranks on the upper end of any heat scale. A great combo of flavors but the level of fire here blew away the roof of my mouth. The smallest of spoonfuls was enough to set me ablaze.
For a curry, we went with an all-time favorite, Panaeng พะแนง. Talay Thai’s version is stellar. Rich, dense, nutty and incredibly creamy. Although served with pork, this would be perfect without any choice of meat. The pork almost gets in the way of the myriad flavors going on here. Incredible.
Instead of the traditional Pad Thai, we went for another, intriguing noodle dish…Pad Kee Mao ผัดขี้เมา (Drunken Noodles). This can a very versatile dish. In this case there’s beef, peppers, celery and onion decked out with fried basil in a mix of sweet soy, oyster sauce, garlic and fish sauce. Aside from the slightly overcooked beef, another great plate.
From great service and a warm, welcoming environment to the carefully prepared food, Talay Thai ranks up there with the best Vancouver has to offer.