Restaurant review: Benjarong Thai Cuisine

I picked up a “groupon” type deal for a new Thai restaurant on West Broadway just off Arbutus, and decided to put it to work.

I called ahead to reserve a table for 7:30 on a Friday, but as it turned out, it was unnecessary. The restaurant was not that busy.

We were seated immediately at a small table, and given out menus.

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We started with an appetizer

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This was the Golden Bags and Crispy Moon.  This was described as ground pork, prawns and garlic, stuffed in wrapper, deep-fried to a crunch, and served with sweet chili sauce.  These tasted pretty good, but I hardly noticed any prawns in there.  It’s pretty finely minced, and the flavor of the pork masked any flavor from the prawns.  The two shapes are for presentation purposes, because it seemed the filling was the same for both.  The sweet chili sauce was indeed very sweet, and just mildly spicy.

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The Thais are known for their ornate fruit and vegetable carvings.  This is a raw beet, carved into a striking flower like piece.

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I can’t resist getting pad thai in any Thai restaurant.  This is their pad thai kung sod.  It’s stir fried rice noodles with prawns, tofu, scallions and bean sprouts with a bold tamarind sauce.  It comes with a lime wedge and serving of crushed roasted peanuts on the side.

The server also provided a condiment tray with dried chili flakes, fish sauce,  and sugar.

The noodles were thin and soft, and not particularly spicy on their own.  But I gather that’s what the tray of condiments was for, so that I could adjust the flavor to my own liking. I needed more heat.  And made full use of the lime and peanuts.

This was a very good pad thai.  One of the better ones I’ve had in Vancouver (my favorite is, unfortunately, out of business).

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Next we had the house special grilled chicken.  This is what might be called Gai Yang in other Thai restaurants.  It’s a boneless chicken fillet (skin-on), marinated in soy, lemon grass and coconut milk. Then grilled, topped with crunch fried garlic flakes, and served with a spicy dipping sauce (which is a combination of sweet chili sauce, with extra chilis, scallions, and garlic).

This is a really good chicken.  It’s tender and moist (over cooking with gai yang is very common) and well seasoned and marinated.  It’s probably one of the best versions of gai yang I’ve had in a very long time.

We did actually order some rice to accompany the chicken dish, but they forgot to bring it to us.  Which might have been a problem otherwise, but we actually found we had more than enough food anyways.

The servers were very pleasant and helpful.  And the staff are all clearly Thai judging from their accents and back room chatter.

This space the restaurant occupies used to be a Romanian/Translyvanian restaurant, and the room still bears some left over decor from the previous tenant (I’m thinking of the gothic iron chandeliers and ceiling tiles). It’s clean and richly colored in red and yellow/gold, with lots of mounted photographs of Thailand, and numerous buddha statues and the like.

The prices are quite reasonable, and to the extent that we tried it, the food is very good.
Thai Benjarong Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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