We were sad to hear when it was announced earlier this year that Gastropod was closing its doors. But was happy to hear that Chef Angus An was simply shifting gears into a casual Thai restaurant — Maenam.
(Clockwise: 1. Crispy BC Golden Mantle Oysters. 2. Roti. 3. A statue watches you from the wall.)
The interior of Maenam was left largely unchanged — primarily a paint job and some slight modifications in decor. Case and I arrived for lunch, so it was not intensely busy but still buzzing with energy. Their signature tube lighting hung overhead, illuminating the bar while Lily Allen’s The Fear dripped from the speakers.
We started off with Crispy BC Golden Mantle Oysters served with Nahm Jim, a kind of sweet chili sauce. The oysters were perfectly fried with a solid, crispy skin and melt-in-your-mouth texture on the inside. Their Green Papaya salad followed, served with green beans, carrots, garlic, bird’s eye chiles and dried shrimp dressed in a fish sauce. The julienned papaya had a nice crunch and little surprises like diced tomato and green bean gave this traditional salad an interesting twist.
For our main dish, we shared the Muslim Oxtail Soup: braised oxtail with orange zest, asian celery, vietnamese and some incendiary looking chiles. The broth was masterfully stewed and had a wonderfully complex assortment of flavours and spices. The oxtail meat was fall-apart tender and had absorbed all the amazing flavours from the stew. A word of warning. Although the soup itself isn’t all that spicy, do not — I repeat — do not under any circumstances eat the chile. You will require an entire brigade to put out the fire that will ignite inside your mouth. Don’t ask me how I know.
(Clockwise: 1. Muslim Oxtail Soup. 2. Americano. 3. Marble tabletop.)
Our only slight disappointment was the Roti we ordered, which we felt was only so-so compared to everything else in our meal. They do, however, make a mean cup of Americano. Which isn’t really all that Thai, but was a great accompaniment to our meal anyway.
At $51 including taxes and tip for two — it’s not exactly the thriftiest lunch option. However, the stellar quality of food makes dining at Maenam a completely pleasurable experience.
Perfect for: the best Thai cuisine in Vancouver.