Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Maenam: pomelo salad for days!

I've heard of Maenam for a long, long time but frankly, I never understood the beauty of Southeast Asian food until recently. I think it's because I grew up eating JUST Korean food and I was very much used to the flavours and ingredients used in Korean cooking. Korean food is delicious but we don't use ingredients that are used in Southeast Asian cooking (i.e. coconut milk, cilantro, limes, lemon grass, curry leaf etc.). More recently, tried a couple of recipes with coconut milk and realized that it wasn't so bad. I also went to Laksa King a couple of weeks ago and tried laksa for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I've  heard that Maenam is Seth Rogen's favourite place to eat in Vancity (I may be completely wrong) but a couple of my friends did see him at the restaurant here and there. So when I saw Maenam on the Dineout list and I knew that it was my time to finally try it (not because of Seth Rogen). The lunch menu was only $25 so I booked a reservation and went on a Saturday at 12:30. It was empty when we arrived and we were provided with an option of ordering from the normal menu or the Dineout. The Dineout menu was basically 1 appetizer, 3 main dishes (one salad, one stir fry and one curry) from the regular menu. These dishes are normally $15-16/ dish so by choosing the Dineout option, we saved about $10. Unfortunately, the lunch menu did not come with desserts but they were on the menu for $3.  In the end, it would've been cheaper even with desserts to go with the lunch option versus. dinner.

I wasn't a big fan of these tables... and the restaurant was a lot smaller than what I thought! They had a beautiful bar and it was big enough to sit several people.

We originally wanted to order caramelized pork belly salad with the 8 spice crispy lingcod but our waiter politely recommended us to change one of the options (if we wanted) because they were both sweet dishes. I appreciated his recommendation and we decided to get the crispy chicken thigh salad with fresh pomelo instead.

Our starter was the steam mussels with lemongrass and thai basil (hoi malaeng puu bai horapha) served with nahm jim sauce. 

The mussels were so plump and delicious. It didn't taste fishy at all (that old seafood taste) and it went perfectly with the nahm jim sauce. It was my first time trying nahm jim sauce and I fell in love with the sauce instantly - it was sour but spicy at the same time and it had a little bit of sweetness to it. When I finished the mussels, I started eating the sauce by itself!

plumpy plumy mussel

From the left: Coconut rice, crispy chicken thigh salad with fresh pomelo, panaeng curry of beef chuck, 8 spcies crispy lingcod. 

Crispy chicken thigh salad with fresh pomelo (yum gai som o)
free range chicken, fresh mint, coriander, toasted coconut, peanuts

This salad was divine. I loved this dish SO much. I never tasted pomelo before but the textures and flavours were just perfect. The crispiness of the chicken, crunchiness of the peanuts, the softness of the pomello and the herbs were a heavenly combination and the vinegariness of the whole dish brought everything together. If I could, I would eat a bucket full of this. 

Panaeng curry of beef chuck (panaeng neua)
Maenam's version of popular curry, rich with peanuts and thai basil

The curry was delicious as well. Nothing too particular that I would point out other than the meat. The meat was well cooked and it just melted in my mouth. 

8 spice crispy lingod (pla tort samun plai)
crispy lingcod, served in a caramelized tamarind and palm sugar sauce, topped 8 different Thai aromatics and spices

The batter was so cripsy and the fish was soft and perfectly cooked. The sauce was very sweet - as if I was eating candy but I didn't mind it because it did taste savoury at the same time. It also went really well with the other dishes we were eating. 

The dessert options were very tempting. They had thai iced tea pannacotta, dark chocolate pot de creme and rice doughnuts. We were able to say no to desserts but it would've been a great deal to get one of these for $3. 

I was beginning to feel disappointed at Dineout Vancouver but Maenam did not disappoint. Mind you, I've never been to Thailand and I never tried homemade Thai cooking so I don't have anything to compare to. I've read from a couple of other blogs that Maenam can be disappointing compare it to what you would get in Thailand. Well, it's really difficult to achieve the same flavours because of accessibility of the produces, prices and etc. but to those that never really experienced Thai food before, I think Maenam will leave a great impression of Thai cuisine. 

Maenam's Dineout menu was straight off from the regular menu, the portions were the same and all of them tasted awesome. I know that some look forward to Dineout due to the creativity of the menus but I think it's is also great to see some restaurant sporting their original menu items. I also feel like I am getting a deal this way by ordering off their original menu.

If you've never been to Maenam, Dineout Vancouver is till January 31st so you still have time!

Maenam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



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