Inspired by a pretty good Thai dining experience at Maenam, I wanted to try some other Thai places that I'd heard about. One of these places was Lhy Thai, which is on Edmonds street in Burnaby, so when our friend Linda called us out for dinner, this was the place we chose. I was curious about the restaurant from Sherman's review of it, and from one of Shane's co-workers, who used to go there regularly when he worked close by.
We arrived on a dark and rainy weeknight, so there were plenty of seats. However, the restuarant did get a lot busier later in the night. The restaurant on the inside feels a little cramped, because there are a lot of tables crammed into the space, and the room was filled with a lot of Thai kitch, pictures and plants all over the place. However, there is nothing pretentious about this place, and the restaurant was definitely very comfortable.
Shane and Linda had a beer, but I opted for Thai iced tea, which was on the menu. It arrived in a small glass, but the taste of the tea was pretty similar to what you'd get in Thailand (it just needed to have a bit more punch). However, for $3.99, it was pricy for its size.
One of our appetizers we got was the spring roll ($5.95). These were large and crispy, with a tasty vegetarian filling. It came with a side of Chinese style sweet and sour sauce, which I didn't care for. I would have preferred that the spring rolls came with the traditional Thai nam jiim (fish sauce, lime, garlic, fresh chilies, cilantro).
Next, we ordered the pork satay ($5.95), which came with a side of pickled cucumbers and a peanut sauce. The satays were pretty good, though not exceptional. The pork had a nice grilled flavour and the peanut sauce was finger licking and very tasty. The cucumbers were refreshing, and cut the richness of the sauce nicely.
I wanted to get the chicken larb ($8.25) as a kind of test, since it's definitely not a common thing for people to order in Thai restaurants, and because when it's good, it's really, really good. One of the best memories from a trip to Thailand was ordering this dish in Northeast Issan province from a street vendor and eating it with sticky rice. When it's good, the larb is pungent with garlic and lime, fresh with herbs, tongue-numbingly spicy, and instantly addictive. So how did this larb from Lhy Thai hold up? It was surprisingly good. Of course it didn't have that level of spice and the sourness of the dish was tampered a bit by the addition of sugar, but overall, it compared relatively well. The best thing I can say about it is that I would order it again. It was great with rice.
Next came the green curry with chicken ($8.50). The curry was a little watery, but had excellent flavour (it's not too good when the curry is too thick with coconut milk either); there was a nice complexity to the curry, which was really good. The contents of the curry, bamboo, peppers, chicken, were pretty standard. This went really great with rice.
We also tried the pad thai with shrimp ($8.50). If you've ever eaten pad thai in Thailand (off the main 'tourist' drag, of course), you'll know that what passes for pad thai in Canada is not really authentic. It shouldn't be red and sweet, for instance, and should always be served with a wedge of lime and a handful of chives. So this pad thai was just ok. It was red and sweet, but not overly so. It also had way too much ground peanut (peanuts should just give a small textural contrast and a bit of flavour and shouldn't dominate). Hey, it tasted good, you know? But pad thai-wise, it was a bit of a disappointment.
We were really full, but how could we say no to dessert? So we ordered each dessert they offered: Mango with sticky rice, coconut ice cream with coconut meat, and deep fried bananas with mango ice cream. Yum, yum, yum. Linda loved the banana dessert and declared the mango ice cream a really good match to the deep fried banana. How can you go wrong with deep fried banana?
The mango with sticky rice was good, though with a few small flaws: the mango was the Mexican variety and was not too ripe, so it didn't have that ripe mango aroma and sweetness which is so essential to the dessert. However, the sticky rice with coconut milk was good, although the coconut was missing the pinch of salt that gives the dessert such a strange and amazing out of this world quality.
The best dessert of the night, surprisingly, was the coconut ice cream with coconut meat. The ice cream was delicious, and the coconut meat was an unusual addition (though it makes sense, of course!). It was simple and delicious.
We love Lhy Thai. It's not the most authentic Thai place, but it's authentic enough to bring really good memories of Thailand. The Thai couple who run it are really kind (they even gave us calendars at the end of the meal!). The prices are also a bit of a throwback (the dishes are mostly around $8, surprisingly enough). I'd be happy to return to try other dishes, for sure.