Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Food Court Redeemed – Thai Express

July 16, 2013
Thai Express, Richmond BC
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Shrimp Spring Roll
Tofu Pad Thai

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ImageEver since Thai Express landed in Richmond Centre a few years back, my faith in food courts had been restored. It is seriously a great little stall with fresh, made-to-order generic Thai dishes. The flavours are usually pretty good, though!

The Shrimp Spring Roll was like one of those from Vietnam, with vermicelli, lettuce, carrot, bean sprouts, and shrimp inside, wrapped in rice paper. The peanut dipping sauce was sweet and lovely.Image

The Tofu Pad Thai had great flavour. No, it’s not real tamarind and instead, was more of a ketchup-based sauce. Still, it was good, and I did not really expect authentic. The portion was decent. I could have used more vegetables and the tofu did not really stay crispy but rather had soggy batter. The noodles were not overcooked though and it was still pretty good!

Now that Richmond Centre has built the Dining Terrace food court, the dining environment is so much more elegant, with comfy booth seats, high seats, group tables, couches, and convenient trash stations. This is certainly one of the best food courts I have been to, especially thanks to the decor.

Thai Express on Urbanspoon

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Thai on the Island – Baan Thai Restaurant

July 10, 2013
Baan Thai Restaurant, Victoria BC
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Lychee Martini
Som Tum Goong
Phad Thai Gai
Macua Pad Moo

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ImageI recently went with my dad and his colleague to Vancouver Island and though it was a great opportunity to try some of the Island’s best restaurants.

Our first night after checking in at the hotel led us to Baan Thai Restaurant, which is apparently the best Thai restaurant on the Island. About half of the restaurant was filled and the service was very friendly. The food was quite good overall, despite being a tad bit pricey for some of the dishes.

I started with a Lychee Martini. I just love lychees and so the sweetness with the Smirnoff vodka, Soho, and white grape juice tasted quite pleasant.Image

My Som Tum Goong – green papaya salad with prawns – was absolutely mouthwatering. I asked for extremely spicy and boy, that turned up the heat. My mouth was not just burning but probably charred by the end. I loved it though! The prawns were tender and there were loads of green papaya shred. It was a tad pricey but a great-tasting dish.Image

Dad ordered the Phad Thai Gai – stir-fried thin rice noodles with tamarind, ground peanuts, and chicken. A good pad Thai is hard to find and this was average. It had a good, sweet and spicy flavour but a little bland. More sauce would have helped. Also lacking was the amount of scrambled eggs. I always love the eggs in my pad Thai and so does Dad. The chicken was a little dry as well.Image

Finally, we shared the Macua Pad Moo – stir-fried eggplant with pork. The pork was okay but the eggplant was soft and delicious. It had a nice spicy and sweet flavour with a little soy taste as well. It was a little greasy but considering they were eggplants, I totally understand.

It’s hard to find good Thai food in BC so I’m not surprised this is considered the best on the Island. While it was not the best I’ve ever had, it was certainly above average and satisfied my cravings for overly spicy foods.

Baan Thai Restaurants on Urbanspoon

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Thai in Times Square – Pongsri Thai Restaurant

March 29, 2013
Pongsri Thai Restaurant, New York NY
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Tom Yum Goong
Chicken Pad Ped Nor-mai
Shrimp Pad See Ew
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ImageI met up with Kitty to stay overnight for competition at NYU the next day. We were planning to go to Central Park and find the Alice in Wonderland statue since we could not get tickets to Mamma Mia! but it was windy and freezing. Feeling like some comforting Asian cuisine, we decided to give Pongsri Thai Restaurant a try since the reviews were good and it was nearby.

The Tom Yum Goong was a nice start. There were quite a few tender jumbo shrimp inside and lots of button mushrooms. The soup was hot and sour and not too greasy, which is why I like a good tom yum soup. The lemongrass was quite pronounced as well.Image

The Chicken Pad Ped Nor-mai was a stir-fry dish with plenty of bamboo shoots, onions, carrots, and bell peppers in a hot chili paste. We asked for very spicy and boy, it was VERY spicy. I loved it! Yes, I had to drink water, but it certainly warmed us up good. The chicken was overcooked, though, and so a little dry. The presentation was quite nice for a stir-fry dish, though!Image

The Shrimp Pad See Ew was really good with lots of shrimp, despite the shrimp being a little overdone and not as springy as I would like. The sweet soy sauce was a little oily but the flavour was mild and really good. I especially liked the broad rice noodles with the Chinese broccoli. There was not much egg to be found but the flavour made up for that.

The restaurant was crowded and clearly a popular casual place with friendly service, tucked away in a relatively unseen spot near Times Square. The food was quite good for the price and I would definitely come back here again for some great tasting good. 

Pongsri Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Never Enough Papayas – Little Cafe Siam

ImageJanuary 2, 2013
Little Cafe Siam, Honolulu HI
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Green Papaya Salad
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Having not had enough of green papayas the night before, I decided to get the Green Papaya Salad at Little Café Siam in Ala Moana Center the next day. Again, there was less papaya than I would have liked but the flavours were excellent. This one was made-to-order, with the chilies, lemongrass, peanuts, and various other ingredients being freshly beaten and ground up in a wood mortar and pestle bowl. I asked for the spiciest heat level, and believe me, it was SPICY – and I LOVED it. That burning sensation mixed with the refreshing shredded papaya and cabbage was fabulous. The flavours in this case were bold and prominent, and for a food court salad, it was right on.

Little Cafe Siam on Urbanspoon

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Goodbye 2012, Aloha 2013! – Keo’s Thai Cuisine

December 31, 2012
Keo’s Thai Cuisine, Honolulu HI
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Seafood Tom Yum (Lemon Grass) Soup
Green Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Noodles (Pad Thai)
Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken
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ImageNew Year’s Eve dinner on the beach was too expensive and Mom and I would never have been able to finish four courses each. The Cheesecake Factory had a line that was too long to comprehend. Therefore, we found ourselves at Keo’s Thai Cuisine, our first time dining at a Thai restaurant as a family two years ago. We thought it was amazing at that time, but having tried other places, this was no longer as amazing.

To warm up, I got a bowl of the Seafood Tom Yum (Lemon Grass) Soup. This was excellent. Light and flavourful, it was very spicy (I got the most heat with it!). The lemongrass flavour really came through. The seafood was tender and fresh and mushrooms quite plump. It was expensive for such a small bowl but good nonetheless.Image

I also had my absolute favourite and refreshing Thai dish: the Green Papaya Salad. I just love the crunch, light, almost flavorless green papaya. It was served with a wedge of cabbage that was only good when you scooped the fish sauce and mixed juices onto there. There was only a little bit of papaya, but since it was local and organically grown, I guess the price is somewhat justified. The flavours were mixed very well, though.Image

The Vegetarian Thai Noodles (Pad Thai) was nowhere as good as we remembered. The noodles were quite dry and did not have much flavour from the sauce. Sometimes, a restaurant would use a mostly ketchup base, but despite not being authentic, at least it was flavourful. This was not so much made with ketchup but it was not otherwise flavoured much either. The ingredients were not exactly plentiful. I would have liked to see a lot of vegetables and eggs. This is by far one of the worst Pad Thai’s I have ever had, especially considering the price.Image

Finally, we ordered the Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken, their special curry stir-fry served on a bed of cabbage. I actually liked the curry sauce with the cabbage the most. The sauce was flavourful, decently thick, and plentiful, coating the crunchy cabbage. The chicken was quite dry and not flavoured on the inside. It was kind of tough to eat, like a poorly done chicken breast that was shredded.

The restaurant was about half full so the mediocre online ratings are spot on. It was okay, not great, especially considering the slightly pricey menu. However, we did not have to wait two hours! Finally, here’s to a wonderful year of surviving the almost-apocalypse. Happy new year and welcome, 2013!

Keo's in Waikiki on Urbanspoon

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Hobbits and Oz in the Jungle – Umai Royal

ImageNovember 19, 2012
Umai Royal, Philadelphia PA
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Jungle 2 Jungle
Lord of the Ring Roll
Over the Rainbow Roll
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I bought this Groupon a long time ago and finally found a chance to go to dinner with a friend. We took Septa to Center City and thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing, chilly night air amidst the twinkling holiday lights down Walnut Street.

A blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai, I could not help but order the very exotic-sounding Jungle 2 Jungle. It was a stir-fry vegetable and tofu dish made with a light Thai curry sauce. I really enjoyed the crunchy yet thoroughly cooked broccoli. The cubes of tofu were a little small so that while the outer layer was crispy, there was not enough substance inside to have a dense yet soft centre. The bamboo shoots were also quite delicious, coated in the light yet flavourful sauce. Image

The Lord of the Ring Roll was essentially a soy paper-wrapped California roll with crunchy cucumber, imitation crabmeat, and creamy avocado. It was topped with soft and flavourful spicy tuna, ikura (salmon roe), and special chef’s sauce. The roll was creative and decently made. However, there was not enough filling and topping but rather a little too much rice for the size of the roll. Each piece was small, as it was a skinny roll. While the flavours were good, it was definitely not top-notch.Image

The Over the Rainbow Roll was a slight variation on the usual Rainbow Roll. The crunchy spicy tuna roll was topped with two types of tuna – I think – salmon, and whitefish. I enjoyed the whitefish a lot but the salmon and tuna could have been fresher. The spicy tuna and crunchy tempura flakes on the inside were great, though. Texture and taste were both good. Again, though, there was a little too much rice for the size of the roll and it was not the best sushi rice.

A quaint and obscured little place, it was certainly a nice night out. Service was friendly and there were not many customers on a Monday night. With most of the restaurant empty, we got our food very quickly.

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Thai in an American Chinatown – Erawan Thai Cuisine

ImageAugust 31, 2012
Erawan Thai Cuisine, Philadelphia PA
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Papaya Salad
Seafood Tom Yum
Shrimp Holy Basil Supreme
Chicken Ultimate Pad Thai
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After reading rave reviews for Erawan Thai Cuisine in Chinatown, I decided to get the $12 for $25 Groupon a while back. Finally, I got to use it, and we had a lovely dinner. Although they cancelled our reservation when we were just nine minutes late, we got a table right away despite the restaurant being more than half full – a good sign. We all felt like spicy food, so we went mostly with medium and extremely hot.Image

The Papaya Salad was vibrant and just lovely to look at. The red chilies, cherry tomatoes, and carrots really contrasted to the crushed peanuts, mixed greens, and shredded green papaya. Although we asked for medium hot, this was very spicy, perhaps just a tad bit too much of the chili sauce. However, I loved the burning sensation with the refreshing, crunchy salad. The iceberg lettuce was exceptionally crunchy as well. The peanuts added a different sort of crunch and the mix of spicy, sweet, and sour was incredible. The portion was quite big and the presentation was just amazing thanks to the colour. I would certainly order this again.

The Seafood Tom Yum came in a very small bowl but the soup was extremely flavourful. It was sour and hot but no flavour was overwhelming. The lemongrass and other spices blended beautifully. The scallops, mussels, shrimp, and cuttlefish were all tender enough, although I thought the scallops could have been tenderer; it was just the slightest bit overcooked. The amount of seafood for this size of bowl was good, but for $6.95, I expected a bigger portion. The button mushrooms were juicy as well. It was a great little bowl of warming soup.

ImageOur first entrée was the Shrimp Holy Basil Supreme, which was stir fried shrimp with green beans, bell peppers, onions, and plenty of basil. The basil flavour was quite strong and delicious. The spice level was good as it was quite hot but did not overtake the basil aroma. The shrimp were tender and the vegetables were also flavourful but not overcooked. The dish came with rice, although it was not quite enough for us. Despite the small portion, I loved the bold flavours reflecting strongly of Thai cuisine.Image

Finally, we got the Chicken Ultimate Pad Thai. It came on a plate with a very decent portion. The thin and flat rice noodles were cooked nicely and al dente – chewy, stretchy, yet firm. It came with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts. It was stir fried with plenty of tofu and egg swirls. The chicken breast slices were rather dry and tough, though, and did not soak up any flavour. The sauce was rather sweet and was clearly made using lots of ketchup. However, sweet and tangy is always appreciated. Sure, it was not authentic pad thai sauce, however, it was still delicious. I would probably get it with different meat next time, though.

Service was friendly and the restaurant was spacious with traditional décor. The ambiance was quite relaxing, but the restroom was not exactly clean. However, everything in the dining room looked nice and the lighting was dim but not dark. Altogether, it was quite a good deal and I would take friends back here for some decent Thai food.

Erawan Thai Cuisine - Chinatown on Urbanspoon

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Thai Where It Shouldn’t Be – Thai House Restaurant

ImageJune 2, 2012
Thai House Restaurant, Bellingham WA
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[Salad]

Tom Yam Talay
Prawns a La Hua Hin
Thai House Noodles 
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With gas prices rising with no end in sight, we finally found time to make a trip down to Bellingham to fill up. Along the way, of course Mom insisted on going shopping. We do not go to downtown Bellingham, so it goes without saying our lunch options were limited. It was a long time ago that we stumbled upon this little establishment. For where it is at, you could say it was a hidden gem. We first ate at Thai House Restaurant because we got addicted somewhat to Thai food with the new opening of Thai Express in Richmond Centre. The only other Thai restaurant we really like is the one in Waikiki since we are not a big fan of Thai House in Richmond. Image

Our server brought out a small appetizer salad for each of us. I am pretty sure it is just a mini version of the Thai House Salad without the tofu. The iceberg lettuce, purple cabbage, and carrots tasted quite simple but refreshing with the Thai dressing. The dressing was sweet and sour, but it was slightly thick, which made me think it has a little peanut sauce in there along with a sweet and sour Thai chili sauce. After looking at the menu again and thinking it was the complimentary version of the Thai House Salad, I guess I was right in saying it was a homemade peanut dressing. The fish bowl was cute and despite being ordinary, it was a nice start. 

Not feeling too hungry, I decided on a warm, seafood hot pot soup on this slightly chilly day, the Tom Yam Talay. It was not as spicy as I wanted so next time, I am going to get one of spice level 4/4. For mixed seafood, it came with two prawns, two mussels, two scallops and two or three pieces of squid. The mussels were quite huge and the prawns tender. I am also in love with tender scallops so those were great! I did not get a chance to try the two pieces of tomatoes but I did have a lot of the canned straw mushrooms typical in Thai and Chinese cuisine. I absolutely LOVE straw mushrooms. Actually, I am a huge fan of fungi, period. The mushrooms were so tender and chewy and they soaked up the soup flavour wonderfully. Although the soup base was not very thick and dense, the flavour was strong from the lemongrass, basil, chilli peppers, and some other spices. It was also quite sour so it definitely followed the ‘hot and sour’ description. I certainly expected it to have a deeper red colour, but the taste was fantastic!Image

Next was one of the specials of the day, the Prawns a La Hua Hin, with prawns sauteed with onions, tomatoes, pineapple, bell peppers, cashew nuts, celery, and carrots, according to the description. It came in a pretty fish plate and was quite pleasant to look at. The prawns were fabulous, quickly deep fried after being coated in what seems like a Thai peanut sauce. At least, I think it was, since it was slightly sweet but also savoury. The dish had a lot of chilli oil but it was still not too spicy. The vegetables were fresh and not overdone. However, there was not much flavour in the vegetables since they were not cooked to much. They were quite refreshing though, with the celery and peppers and onions especially. The pineapple chunks, which certainly came from a can, were somewhat scarce but had nice flavour. The prawns were definitely the highlight of the dish.Image

Finally, Dad insisted on trying spicy Thai House Noodles that did not turn out spicy at all. This was the most disappointing dish, though, because the flavour was not as good as the other dishes. The noodles were pan fried nicely that they were tender and chewy, quite al dente. The zucchini, celery, cabbage, carrots, and broccolis were lightly sauteed. The eggs were quite beaten up and mixed in and the chicken breast slices were quite tender. The peanut sauce came on the side, though, and served as the source of 95% of the flavours of the dish. Some chili pepper flakes did not give the dish some complex, intricate flavour that I would have wanted. I think the Phad Thai would be a much better option with the crushed peanuts, lime juice, and bean sprouts. Peanut sauce on noodles was simply nothing extraordinary. It was not bad, but certainly not memorable either.

Overall, though, we still had a great lunch, especially with the soup and the prawns. For me personally, I needed a lot more heat in the dishes for them to be satisfyingly spicy so maybe even a full 4/4 on the spice level would not suffice. However, I will certainly try that next time. The service was decent and the restaurant quiet with only a couple of tables. The decor was very typical of a Thai restaurant for the ones I have been to at least. Their dishes can certainly be a hit or miss but when they are good, they are really good. For a little town like Bellingham, I am just glad we have an option like this besides Olive Garden every time we go shopping. 

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