I don’t often go for Thai cuisine and I honestly couldn’t tell you why that is. I suppose Thai food just hasn’t been ingrained in my mind as the sort of dining that comes up when asked that dreaded and much maligned question of “what should we eat?”. A sad reality really, as everyone would benefit from diversifying their palates. I mean I like pad thai, spicy dishes and potent flavours, so there should be no reason why I don’t hit up this cuisine more often.
It was a bit of a soggy day in which my friend and I decided we should head out and shoot the breeze in a new spot. He suggested Maenam and I, excited for something new, obliged. From what I’ve heard, this 4th Avenue restaurant is owned and operated by a chef who has spent quite a bit of time in Thailand learning the native cuisine. This should bode well for the authenticity of the food, but my take on that is generally pretty loose anyway. With Vancouver being such a melting pot of peoples and food cultures, I say if the food tastes good, why fret over the authenticity?
Seated promptly by a beautiful waitress, we busied ourselves with ordering a few snacks and a drink or two. The interior is inviting with a modern flare that is highlighted by warm wooden tones.
I always enjoy trying a new or unique drink and you can often find me studying the beer selection for something interesting. On this occasion the Estrella Damm Inedit from Spain caught my attention.
This large 750mL beer was smooth and tasted surprisingly bright with all of the flavours noted in it’s description. It was also served in a nifty cooler and poured for us at the table.
The first of our snacks to make it to the table were the crispy fried oysters. The oysters were exactly as described, fried crispy on the exterior and succulent on the inside. What set this dish apart from others is the dipping sauce which was powerfully piquant. Composed of chilies, lime juice, garlic and coriander and salt, along with a few other things I’ve probably missed, this sauce completely changes the oysters and adds a wonderfully tart and salty flavour to them. This dish definitely made for a good snack.
The next dish was the in house made sausages. I was not as much a fan of this dish as I was with the oysters. The sausage was very firm and seemed a bit dry on the palate. I am not entirely certain if this was a one off or if the curing process caused the sausage to turn out that way, but this was the least enjoyed dish that evening. The tart dipping sauce didn’t help very much, but at least it was available. The piece of chili disbursed throughout the sausage were also quite spicy, which I enjoyed, but my friend found it a bit too strong for his tastes.
My friend said that the pad thai served here at Maenam is one of the best he’s ever had, so I definitely had to give it a go. Let me tell you, he wasn’t far off the mark and neither was Maenam as this rendition of the Thai staple lived up to expectations! The noodles were loose and chewy in that properly cooked sort of way. The flavours were vibrant and fresh and the serving was gone before we knew it. Had this not been our second meal of the evening, we probably would have ordered another plate of it.
Maenam has something good going for it. It’s hard to go wrong with a well respected chef in a cool and trendy space. The food tastes good and is prepared/presented in a well thought out manner for an otherwise mostly casual genre of food. The service is friendly and I quite enjoyed my visit. I should have to go back before too long to experience it all (and more) again!
1938 West 4th Avenue