Maenam – A Modern Take on Thai Cuisine
As I’ve probably mentioned on another post, xmas shopping in malls is crazy in December – too many people, too many screaming kids. Plus, all of the malls seem to have the same stores. Fortunately, there are plenty of places around Vancouver that have interesting shopping like on Granville or West 4th. We found ourselves braving the recent sunny but chilly weather a few weeks ago and decided to try out Maenam on West 4th for some lunch before we began our trek.
The interior of Maenam is quite modern with clean lines and a well-stocked bar on one side of the restaurant and a large wall mirror on the other side of the restaurant which helps to visually make the restaurant seem larger. The fragrant aroma of lemongrass was the first thing that hit me as I walked inside.
While you can order a Set Menu for $25 per person (minimum 2 people) and get your choice of starter, salad, curry, and stir fry to share, we decided to choose some à la carte items.
It was an interesting dish but a bit difficult to eat. The cut up pieces of Thai sausages were firm which made the act of wrapping in the lettuce awkward and cumbersome. A minced meat version of this dish would have been a better choice.
Also, I kind of missed the crisp lettuce used in Chinese lettuce wraps… the butter lettuce had a very soft texture which I was unaccustomed to.
We also had the Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass and Thai Basil served with Nahm Jim sauce. Despite the spiciness of thai chili peppers in the broth (yes, I ate one), the mussels by themselves did not have a lot of flavour to them. I suppose that’s why they provide the nahm jim sauce for dipping which had a complex blend of tartness and spiciness (see further below for a recipe of this sauce).
The best dish that we had here was the Tender Fraser Valley Duck Curry made with cherry tomatoes, lychee, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil all simmered in a very rich and fragrant curry sauce. The duck was served bone-in and was quite tender indeed. More than anything else, it was the full-bodied curry sauce that made this dish astounding… don’t worry, they serve this dish with a big bowl of rice so you can soak up all of the sauce.
Alternatively, you could do what we did and also order some Roti to go along with your curry. These aren’t like the large fluffy roti that you would get at a Malaysian restaurant – these are flatter but still tasty.
The exterior is slightly crispy and the interior is soft and chewy – perfect for dipping in that fabulous curry sauce.
Next time we come by, I think I might want to try out their set menu – it sounds like a pretty good deal. In either case, make sure you try out their curries – they are very good.
Recipe for Maenam’s Nahm Jim Sauce:
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1-2 small hot chilies, sliced
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander roots or stems
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
4 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
pinch of salt
Combine garlic, chilies, coriander, ginger and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. Then stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar.
Food: 4 / 5
Service: 4 / 5
1938 West 4th Avenue