1938 West 4th Ave
T: 604 730 5579
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.