January 15, Sunday – Cloudy
I had read raving reviews about “Bob Likes Thai Food” since October 2010. I wanted to try it for a few months and finally get to go last Sunday. I think in general, this is the wrong thing to do, trying out a restaurant with such a high expectation. Everyone was talking about how authentic it is and the result was a big disappointment. I mean if I had no expectation and ran into this little Thai restaurant then I may actually like my meal.
I went there with D and my girl friend S for a late Sunday lunch. The place was small as expected but it was much nicer decorated than what I expected. There was a water dispanser with some green fruits flowing in the water and 2 contempary drawings of fork and spoon on the walls.
We were served water right away and on top of their lunch menu, I asked for their dinner menu so we can order some appentizers to share.
S didn’t feel really up for spicy food that day. So she decided to order her own Tom Yum Koong soup. We were both going to order the lunch Pad Thai but upon the server’s suggestion, we ordered the full size Pad Thai to share instead. She said chili can be served on the side to make the Pad Thai spicy. D and I ordered Tom Yum Koong, Chicken Satay, Papaya Salad, Green Curry Chicken lunch special and 2 Thai Ice Tea. I specifically asked the server to note that I want all of my dishes authentically spicy.
The Tom Yum came first. It was flavorful with lemon grass and ginger and some fresh chili pepper. But it’s wasn’t as spicy as I expected it to be but it’s still pretty good. There were several shrimps and some mushroom.
The Thai Ice-tea was milky and sweet but it was not as fragrant as I had in another Thai restaurant but it was not bad.
The Papaya Salad was the best dish among what we’ve ordered. Very nice balance of the sweet and sour and saltiness. Very very refreshing but very small in portion. It’s close to the size of a kimchi or pickle side dish than a salad.
The Chicken Satay then arrived. 2 small skewers each only slight longer than the length of a small dipping saucer ($4.50). They were dry and not very tasty. The peanut dipping sauce was a bit too sweet to my taste as well. The picture below showed all three small orders. The straw looked like a thick bubble tea straw in this picture but it was actually a standard size straw.
Then the Pad Thai came. Again the portion wasn’t big but it looked good from the start. The server forgot about the side chili so I asked and reminded her of that. It took a while for her to bring it in. I was too in shock when she brought in an orange red chili paste similar to those in Vietnamese Pho restaurants… And it tasted like one as well…may be it really was Vietnamese Chili paste. We decided to just eat the Pad Thai as it. It did have a good balance of sourness of tamarind, saltiness of fish sauce and sweetness of palm sugar. But other than that I expect some herbs or some spice and the taste was just a bit too flat for me and D. My friend, S, was actually happy with it. I think it was the chili paste and the mild tasting Pad Thai that threw us off. I didn’t hate this dish but I just couldn’t love it. Compare to Pad Thai we had in Maenam, they did look similar but the texture, complexity and again the chili paste, just didn’t match up with the dish from Maenam. And I was so disappointed that I forgot to take a picture of the hot chili paste.
The last dish to arrive was the Green Curry Chicken lunch special. Frankly, it was pretty good but our hearts were just too broken to continue on the meal. We finished up the curry quickly, got our bill and left. It was a very sad ending to such an anticipated lunch. And I think I have to stop making the same mistake of having sky rocket high expectation of a restaurant before my visit.
To be fair, I have never been to Thailand so my judgement was based on the Thai restaurants I went to in Vancouver (Maenam, Talay Thai, Baan Wasana Thai and SalaThai) and others in Washington States. I have been avoiding “ketchup” Pad Thai as much as I can and I do not go to THE big Thai chain restaurants. But I have a feeling that spice and flavour of food in “Bob Likes Thai Food” was tone down to suit the “Vancouver Main St crowd”. May be someone who knows more about Thai food can give a better review of this restaurant. And I was just a sad bear after my meal at “Bob”.