Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tom Yum Thai (The Heights, Burnaby, BC)

Tom Yum Thai has been on my radar for quite some time. They are situated in The Heights area of Burnaby, and we've enjoyed their (street) food on Hats Off Day in years past. I also worked in Burnaby at one point and my co-workers always raved about Tom Yum Thai. Their lunch service was always busy and I'd always heard good things about them.

Up until last week, however, we'd had issues with getting to Tom Yum Thai while they were open! First, we dropped by on a holiday (Canada Day, I believe) and they had taken the day off. Then we dropped by a couple times on Sundays, when they are usually closed (no, we don't learn from our mistakes). When we checked on them a couple weeks ago, they were closed for renovations; another time their chef had taken a trip to back to her homeland Thailand, and understandably, they were closed for a period of time. So when we tried them last weekend and they were open, we were extremely relieved and happy that they were open. Apparently, a couple of their regulars felt the same way - there were two or three other tables when we entered the establishment.

We were greeted and seated promptly by the owner himself, and decided shortly that we would be trying three dishes: lunch special with chicken pad thai, lunch special penang beef curry, and a regular order of the chicken fried rice with basil leaf. Originally I had wanted the fried rice with pork (love basil and pork) but was swayed somewhat by M and the owner as chicken basil fried rice was more popular.

The lunch specials / combos are served with a small green salad and two spring rolls. When our meals came, I was pretty impressed with the portion size. At this price point (under $9 / dish) for this portion, the value was measuring up with Lhy Thai in Edmonds. But how did it taste?

The pad thai, we agreed, was how we liked it. Slightly spicy (we asked for medium), slightly sweet, slightly tangy, the tamarind-based sauce coated the wide rice noodles, chicken, tofu and sprouts nicely. We could have used with a little less sauce, but the surplus actually made it a little addictive. M smirked as he inhaled his noodles - when it came time to trade (so we could taste each others' dishes it became one of those hostage situations; one hand on each dish before the opposing diner let go. lol!). We prefer tamarind-based pad thai over tomato-based ones and would order this again.

The Penang Beef Curry was presented attractively in a blue and white porcelain dish that set off the colours nicely. There were beef slices, bell peppers, and julienned bamboo shoots in the curry and the rice was prepared properly. While the beef curry was very good, it didn't blow my mind. I'm thinking that it we're getting a little spoiled and although this dish was tasty beyond other cuisines, it was common for other Thai restaurants. We would, however, order this in again.

The green salad served with the lunch specials was plain iceburg lettuce and slices of tomato - refreshing but standard. The spring rolls were prepared hot and wrapped with care. They were uniform in size and shape, accompanied by a sweet chili sauce. As they were smaller in size, the proportion of filling to wrapper was almost equal. I would have liked a little more filling and a little less wrapper - perhaps halving the spring roll wrappers before wrapping would produce more favourable results?

Lastly came the chicken basil fried rice. At this point we were both pretty full and only managed to eat a couple spoonfuls of the rice. While the pad thai and Penang beef curry had could have been spicier, the chicken fried rice was done well. You could taste the chilis and the rice was very fragrant. As we had planned, however, we packed most of the last dish (along with the last drops of curry) to go for lunch the next day. I'd strongly recommend doing this as I was a little underwhelmed with the fried rice the first day. The second day, however, the fish sauce, chilis and other spices had penetrated the other ingredients and it tasted much better. Next time, however, I'd order this dish with pork as I'd initially intended to.

The dining space at Tom Yum Thai is a little narrow. I imagine, at full capacity, that it would be quite cosy and you'd be eavesdropping on or talking to your neighbours. That seems to be a theme at Thai restaurants (or the fact that North American bodies don't fit in Asian furniture?!)

I'm glad that we finally got to dine in at Tom Yum Thai! There were some salads and soups that I'd also want to try next time, as well as their other curries. Have already added their phone number to my phone directory so that I can place a quick take out order (or to double check if they're open :D).

Tom Yum Thai
4010 Hastings St
Burnaby BC
P: 604-677-1489
Tom Yum Thai on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Jessica: This looks a like a good find. Am going to check this place out one of these days ... and am going to make sure I order Tom Yam too, especially when they name the restaurant after that dish. That Pad Thai looked perfect too but I'll definitely ask them to put the beansprout on the side.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Ben. It is usually those little "holes in the wall" that produce some of the best foods. They do have the soup by the same name, as well as a green papaya salad that I'd like to try. Not a beansprout fan?

  3. Interesting, in my hood... Hey, those pics look somewhat "different"... hmmm... I wonder why?

  4. Yes its the new baby Milly at work! I love the new camera. :)

  5. Hi Jessica, thanks for putting this place back on my map...I'd completely forgotten about it! I visited when they had just opened and was underwhelmed. Looks like things have improved nicely. I'll be there for pad thai tomorrow!

  6. Karl let me know what you think! It was my first time actually dining there. If you like it spicy make sure to ask for it spicy (noodles and curry were mild on my scale, but the rice was a nice level of spiciness).


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