Special to The Post
Some purists consider Thai House the McDonald’s of Thai food, but there’s a reason why this Vancouver chain of restaurants is so successful. By making their food safe and accessible to more people, the Thai house has hit a formula that makes good business sense.
I recently visited Thai House Kitsilano with my family to try the all-you-can-eat buffet at lunch. At $17.00 per person, the meal wasn’t cheap, but it was a good way to sample many different dishes at a fixed cost.
We started with the Tom Yum Goong soup, which was surprisingly decent. The soup was mildly spiced with large meaty shrimp and a mix of flavours like lemongrass, galangal and fish sauce. Next was the Fried Calamari, which had a crunchy breading and tender squid, but we found the dip was too sweet.
The Fried Chicken Wings were consistent with many other Asian versions. Big and juicy, the wings had a nice contrasting crunchy exterior. The wings were executed very well, and the accompanying sauce was a good combination of tart, sweet and some spice. The Pad See-Iw (rice noodles with beef, egg and broccoli) had a good amount of tender beef and crisp veggies, and with a just touch of soy, the soft noodles were mild tasting, which worked for the kids.
The adults tried the Pad Thai. It is no secret that Thai House does not use tamarind in their version of this dish, instead using non-traditional ketchup and sweet chili sauce. The result was not bad, but the noodles were still chewy while the usual ingredients such as pressed tofu, shrimp, pickled turnip, peanuts and bean sprouts were present.
Next, we tried the Chicken Green Curry and Beef Red Curry. The green curry tasted remarkably like the Thai House packaged sauces. It was on the creamier side with mild flavours and a bit of heat. The same could be said about the red curry. I prefer my red curry to be less thick, with much more spice. But then again, Thai House is appealing to a wider audience so a spicier curry won’t work for everyone.
We liked the Green Beans with Chicken in Chiang Mai Sauce. There was a nice caramelization of flavours and a good dryness to the dish. The beans were vibrant and crunchy while the chicken was flavourful, with a good combination of spice, salt and palm sugar.
To end off the meal, we had a few scoops of Mango and Coconut Ice Cream. For an all-you-can-eat-buffet, the inclusion of ice cream was a nice treat. However, $17.95 is steep for lunch, no matter how much you eat. For what Thai House is about, the food was fine. Was it authentic Thai? No, but their target market does not necessarily want tamarind nor mind-blowing spiciness. Rather, the food we ate was safe, accessible and generally pretty good.
1766 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
• Safe Thai food • Lots of choice
• Attentive service
• Not "Thai" enough for some people
• Artistic interpretations in some dishes