Maenam is a modern Thai restaurant on 4th Street in the south side of Vancouver. It caught my attention because of the chef’s experience.
Angus An is a young chef behind Maenam. However, his experience is extensive. The young chef has worked in many kitchens around the world; he has received many awards throughout his short career. Chef An resume of notable and highly regarded kitchens in the world include The Ledbury, The Fat Duck, La Manior aux Quat, Saison, and Nahm.
Chef An’s experience at Nahm caught my attention. Nahm is a very highly regarded restaurant in Thailand and it’s on my to-eat list for 2017. I wanted to get an idea of the Nahm’s cuisine like how I did with Sushi Nakazawa in relation to Sukiyabashi Jiro. With every apprentice, there are only a few who surpass their mentor’s achievements.
I made Maenam reservations through OpenTable. It was schedule for my last night in Vancouver and I took a cab from my hotel to the restaurant. I would have called an Uber but Uber hasn’t reached the bays of Vancouver yet. The restaurant was completely packed when I arrived on a Saturday night. There wasn’t an open seat in the house; the bar area was filled with customers finding a place to put down their drinks.
When I was seated, there was one glaring thing I noticed. There wasn’t an Asian person in the restaurant. I’m far from racist or stereotypes but I would expect to see Asians in an Asian restaurant; however, Maenam didn’t have a single Asian customer inside the restaurant. It gave me a bad first impression; my first thought was ‘Fuck…the food is going to suck.’
The waitress came by to introduce herself and drop off the menu. She was very sweet with manners and her smile was kind. She explained the menu, but I already had my mind up. I wanted the tasting menu without wine. It was less than 50 CAD and I get to try a number of things on the menu. Here were the notable dishes:
- 8 Spice Ling Cod – The ling cod was fried with a crispy batter. The caramelized palm sugar radiated when I took my picture. It had a nice texture with the tamarind sauce and thai spices bringing out the flavors of the dish.
- Papaya Salad – Papaya salad is a staple of any Thai menu. Maenam’s papaya salad comes with a blend of carrots, peanuts, garlic, long beans, dried shrimp and chili. It tasted vibrant with the chili opened up my nostrils. It had a nice kick to it; the spiciness was anything but subtle.
- Hot & Sour Soup – Hot & sour soup is found on a lot of Southeast Asian menu. Maenam’s hot & sour soup rendition comes with slice mushrooms and baby clams. The tangy sour taste is followed by the spiciness of the dish then the comforting feeling that soup provides. It was a decent performance but uninspiring.
Maenam was recently named one of the best restaurants in Canada. I think it’s a decent restaurant that provides an inexpensive tasting menu comparatively speaking to other tasting menus in the world. In addition, Maenam’s dishes and ambiance seemed to be catered towards Western palates. My local Thai restaurant is loud, the tables are dirty and the food is great.
With that said, I can’t confirm or deny whether it’s one of best restaurants in Canada, but I will say I don’t consider Canada a culinary country. Hockey country? Yes. Culinary? Not yet.
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- Service - 7/107/10
- Presentation - 5/105/10
- Flavors - 6/106/10
- Decor - 6.5/106.5/10
- Ambiance - 6.5/106.5/10
Maenam has a number of accolades. In addition, its executive chef has experience in a number of notable restaurants in the world. The cuisine is catered towards Western palates and I found it to be a bit uninspiring and average.