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Photo Visit – Maenam – January 2013

4 Feb

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

I know that this makes me sound like a HUGE grump but I’m not a fan of Dine Out Vancouver. Yes, I understand that it gives a huge injection of cash to local restaurants when they so desperately need it (just after the Christmas rush) but I think it typically doesn’t portray a restaurant in the best light. When you have that many seats turning over in a night, I think service becomes strained and the kitchen loses its passion when it is cooking the same dishes every night for two weeks straight. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I normally avoid restaurants that are participating in Dine Out until it ends. However, there was a night last week where I just didn’t want to cook. I was feeling a bit blue and the thought of having to go through the whole process of making dinner just seemed too difficult. B was in the same boat so the decision was made to go out for dinner.

It had been a while since we were last at Maenam and as we entered the restaurant we realized that they were participating in Dine Out. Our initial reaction was disappointment but we were able to get a table and, as we love the food so much at Maenam, we decided to see what they could showcase by ordering the Dine Out menu. It was incredible value at $28 per person for one starter, one salad, one curry, and one stir fry to share between two people, followed by a dessert each. Perhaps my mind could be changed about Dine Out…

Our favourite salad, the grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad, was unavailable whilst Dine Out was on which pushed us to try something new. We started with the mussels with Thai aromatics and nahm jim sauce, which I didn’t get a photo of, but were steamed mussels with a light broth of lemongrass, bird’s eye chilies, and Thai basil. The nahm jim sauce added even more delicious heat, with a hint of sweetness. It appears that our favourite salad now has some competition. The rest of our meal unfolded like this:

Salad to share: Banana Blossom SaladStir Fry to share: Pork Belly Stir FryCurry to share: Green Curry of Halibut CheeksPassion Fruit TrioDark Chocolate Pot de Crème

All of the dishes were really quite impressive. The banana blossom salad was unlike anything that I’ve eaten before. The banana blossoms themselves were quite husky and crunchy which gave a really interesting texture to the dish, whereas the fresh mint and coriander, gave bold flavours. What can I say about Maenam’s curries? I love the curries here and the halibut green curry packs quite a punch but is one of my favourites. The pork belly salad was a must-order for B – for me, the flavours were good but I’m always a little put off by the obvious fat marbling of the pork belly (yes, shoot me now). Dessert-wise I had heard a lot of good things about the chocolate pot de crème, so I had to try that but I was kicking myself because the tangy passion fruit trio was, in my opinion, a better choice. The chocolate pot was delicious, but I had a hard time enjoying the tangy tamarind ice cream.

Final Thoughts: Overall, we loved the food at Maenam (we always have) and this menu really gave us a chance to try some different dishes. Maybe, just maybe, Dine Out isn’t so bad after all.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Maenam – October 2012

31 Oct

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

I’m quite certain that I would fail to be classified as what is considered a “traditional” housewife (i.e. someone who has dinner on the table every night, someone who cleans). I despise cleaning and, whilst I really do love to cook, I will often be persuaded (quite easily in fact) to take off the apron and head out for dinner.

Evidence of this was just last night when B twisted my rubber arm to go out for dinner, when really we should have had dinner at home. Instead, it was off to one of our favourite local restaurants, Maenam, for a spot of mod-Thai. We tried two new dishes and we also ordered our favourite dish on the menu, the grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad. Nom nom!!

Grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad – $11

Crispy fried oysters with nahm jim sauce – $12

Stir fried Paradise valley baby back pork ribs - $18

Typically I love everything that Maenam does. The oysters were fabulous (be careful, they are hot) and the sausage salad was as wonderfully balanced as I’ve come to expect, however, I didn’t really enjoy the ribs. It could be that they are pork (I prefer beef ribs) but they just didn’t do it for me.

I love Maenam! I’m always looking for an excuse to return. And, on some nights, I don’t even need an excuse.

Photo Visit – Maenam – July 2012

31 Jul

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

I realized, with some horror, that I haven’t done a photo visit post on Maenam for quite some time. With even more horror, I realized that almost all of my previous posts contained pictures that I’d taken with my old camera, likely contributing to me doing Maenam a disservice (sorry about that Maenam!). Even though I haven’t been doing regular photo updates, I still frequent Maenam and think very highly of it.

I almost feel as though Maenam should be classified as mod-Thai as the flavours are very traditional but they do a modern take on classic dishes. Whilst the restaurant could use a lick of paint to revitalize it, it still appears to be bopping along quite nicely and is usually full during the evening rush, particularly on weekends. Lunch times are a bit quieter, but with a $25 tasting menu, I don’t know why. The tasting menu represents good value for money as $25 per person gets you get one starter, one salad, one curry, and a stir fry, to share between the table.

Grilled Thai Sausage and Crispy Rice Salad – $10

Maenam have recently changed one of their dishes, the grilled Thai sausage, for the better. The grilled fermented Thai sausage is now served with crispy rice puffs, shavings of lemongrass, fried shallots, and coriander. With different textures (crunchy, chewy, crispy) and Thai flavours (sour, salty, sweet,) this dish represents a well-balanced tribute to Thailand. I love it and can’t get enough, especially at only $10 a serving.

Roti and Peanut Sauce – $6

I can’t pass up servings of flaky roti, especially when paired with chunky peanut sauce ($6). A definite must-order.

Prawn Pad Thai – $15

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I honestly believe that pad Thai should NOT be made with ketchup, it really should be made with tamarind paste otherwise the subtle flavours of the dish are completely over-powered by the sweet ketchup. Maenam, thankfully, makes their pad Thai with tamarind paste so the flavours are well-balanced and they included a side of chili flakes so that you increase the heat, if needed.

I’ve been neglecting Maenam a bit lately as I’ve been distracted with all the newbies that have been popping up, but I really shouldn’t have. Maenam has been a consistent player for years, and remains strong.

Maenam – December 2010 Visit

29 Dec

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

Angus An, the chef at Maenam, is a lucky man. Not only does he get to cook for a living but he also gets to go on regular “research” trips to South East Asia in order to scout out new recipes, ingredients and inspiration for the menu at his popular Kitsilano-based restaurant. Yeah…OK…I might just be a tad jealous. B and I popped in tonight to try a few of the dishes from their recently updated menu.

Having had already reviewed the menu before we arrived, I knew that I would be ordering the mussaman curry of lamb leg before we had even walked in the door.

Considering that mussaman curry is one of my favourite meals, from my favourite restaurant in my hometown, and one that I have been craving for a long time, it was wrong of me to get my hopes up so high. I have found that doing so, more often than not, leads to disappointment rather than joy and, unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the mussaman from Maenam. But only because I was comparing it to the mussaman in my memory – rich, thick, and full of tender meat that falls apart at the touch.

I should clarify that Maenam’s lamb did also crumble at the touch; however, it was the shank which meant that there wasn’t really much meat to be had. The curry was also wetter and not as rich as I am used to. By all means it was satisfactory but I think I just had pinned my hopes on this being it; a comparable mussaman to the one in my memory. I absolutely love Maenam so it disappoints me to say that my search continues.

On the other hand, the panaeng curry of maple hills chicken completely knocked it out of the park! It had an interesting and complex flavour, enhanced by tender pieces of chicken and fried Thai basil. B and I were both impressed by the dish and will definitely be ordering it again.

Some other notable additions to the new menu are the green mango salad with grilled albacore tuna (sounds tempting), a southern style rice salad, and a hot and sour soup of sablefish and turmeric. One dish that I am sad to see has been replaced is the halibut green curry. It was always fantastically spicy and full of delicate halibut pieces. I will miss it.

Final Thoughts: As is always the case with Maenam, the quality of the exotic and interesting food remains outstanding and the prices are still comfortably affordable, with most main dishes around the $17 mark. The atmosphere retains its sophisticated, yet unpretentious, flair.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Maenam – November Visit

1 Dec

 

 

 

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A fairly recent Thai addition to the Vancouver restaurant scene. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambience.

Ever since arriving in Vancouver my sister has been on the hunt for a good Pad Thai. It is her favourite Thai dish and one that we get spoilt with in Australia. After reading many positive reviews about Maenam’s Pad Thai, I suggested that she try it in an effort to find “The One”. With Quince only a short walk away, we decided to make Saturday a culinary day and lunched at Maenam prior to our Hot Chocolate and Madeleines class.

Service at Maenam was prompt and professional yet approachable and relaxed. The prices remain refreshingly affordable with my bill coming it at $20, including tax and tip. We started by sharing a plate of the chicken satays, which were a mere $8. The accompanying peanut sauce was perfectly balanced; not too oily and not too dry. There was a mild spice to it which worked well with the grilled chicken. The inside of the chicken remained juicy but the outside tasted delightfully flame-licked. Oh, and make sure you try the sweet cucumber relish as it was also wonderful.

Moving on to the mains and I ordered the Halibut Green Curry, which is exceptional. There is quite a bit of heat in this dish so you have been warned. Although my tolerance to heat is nothing to be proud of, I do enjoy a bit of a kick. That said though, my mouth was on fire the first time I tried this dish! The second time around was more bearable. For someone who doesn’t enjoy fish all that much, the halibut is a great option as it is not too “fishy”. Although it wouldn’t even matter if it did taste “fishy” as the green curry makes sure that it is first and foremost in the taste stakes. There are some very interesting ingredients hidden within the curry. Of particular note are the big pieces of tender bamboo and some pea eggplants (I’d not come across these before).

My sister sat across from me contemplating every bite of her Pad Thai before delivering her verdict: “It’s the best Pad Thai that I’ve had in Vancouver”.  B had made similar accusations only the week before. Now, I don’t share the same infatuation with Pad Thai as my sister but I am still able to appreciate that Maenam’s offering is one of the city’s better contributions.

Maenam has recently made some amendments to their opening hours and so, as of December 8th, they will be open 7 days a week. Hallelujah! I have often found myself with serious Maenam cravings on a Sunday or Monday afternoon, only to be disappointed when I remember that they aren’t open.

Final Thoughts: If you haven’t been to Maenam yet, you are seriously missing out. The quality of the food for the price makes this one of Vancouver’s best value restaurants.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Maenam

20 Aug

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A fairly recent Thai addition to the Vancouver restaurant scene. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambience.

Exterior of Maenam

Gastropod was a restaurant that I had on my “To do” list for 2009. I had heard many good things about the food but it was a tad on the costly side and so I hadn’t gotten around to visiting yet. Unfortunately, I won’t get to. As of May this year, Angus An, closed the doors to his beloved Gastropod and in its place opened a more economically friendly option, Maenam.

Rather than the high-end West Coast cuisine that Gastropod offered, Maenam combines authentic Thai food with a more up-market atmosphere than most other Thai restaurants found in Vancouver.

Upper level of Maenam's dining area

Located in the busy foodie section of West 4th, between Cypress and Maple Streets, the restaurant has a relatively intimate seating area and is simply decorated, with a minimalistic style. Service is polite, prompt and professional. Prices are unbelievably affordable with nothing on the dinner menu over $18. The lunch and late night menu’s are even more affordable with most dishes around the $12 to $13 mark.

The menu’s are simple and offer a lot of traditional Thai dishes that you would expect to find at most Thai restaurants, such as Hot and Sour Soup, Oxtail Soup, Pad Thai, Satay’s, Papaya Salad and Paenang Beef. Alongside these favourites, you will also find Mussaman Chicken, Green Curry Halibut, Smoked Duck Red Curry and Crispy Pork Belly with Green Peppercorns. The menu strikes a good balance of seafood, poultry and meat. What makes Maenam stand out in a sea of mediocre Thai restaurants is the quality of the food and the presentation. The dishes come out in small silver serving bowls, which are perfect for sharing. The roti (which is quite good, but not the best I’ve had) is served on a slate tile and is only $3 – a must-have for mopping up creamy, spicy sauces. The dishes have been prepared with a lot of effort and this is noticeable in the excellence of the food.

Paenang Beef

The first time I visited I tried the Paenang Beef with a side of roti. The sauce was absolutely lovely – rich and creamy with lots of complex flavours. My one critique of this particular dish was that there was far too much Thai basil in the sauce. With a strong aniseed taste, a little goes a long way and I was picking out many, many leaves of this from the sauce. Besides that small nit-pick, I really enjoyed the dish.

On my second visit, I was torn between the Pad Thai and the Mussaman Chicken and ended up trying the chicken. Again, it was thoroughly enjoyable – the flavours were great, there was a smooth peanut taste throughout and the crispy shallots added a bit of crunch. My only complaint was that I didn’t enjoy eating chicken pieces with the skin left on. However, this is more of a personal taste issue rather than a quality issue.

Final Thoughts: A review that I had read in one of the local papers had claimed that Maenam was the best restaurant to open in Vancouver this year and I feel that my experiences there, so far, are unable to validate that comment. It was good, but rave-worthy, it was not. In my opinion, the prices are what make Maenam extra appealing. A good quality lunch, in a nice restaurant, for well under $20 is always going to rate high in my books. Definitely worth a visit but don’t set your expectations too high.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

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