The newest Angus An venture, Sen Pad Thai, opened up a couple weeks ago (early May 2017) in the Net Loft building across from the Granville Island Public Market. (It’s the same building that houses Paper-Ya.) The whole Angus An group of restaurants has had a busy season. Only two weeks previous, Freebird Chicken Shack reopened in a larger space at River Market (New West) with a revamped menu. I’ve written about this group of restaurants before:
I’ve also been to Maenam a couple times (before I started this blog), so I think I have a bit of a tough love kind of relationship with the whole group. I hold them to high standards (if you flaunt Michelin-star experience, then I must watch for attention to detail, technique, consistency, and above all, taste — actually, those are my criteria all the time). If those high standards aren’t met, it kills me inside as a fan and as a customer.
So does Sen Pad Thai fall into the homerun category (Longtail Kitchen), underappreciated but mildly inconsistent category (Freebird), or the not-good-enough-out-of-the-gate-wouldn’t-go-back category (Fat Mao)? Read on…
As you might know, I wear my love for Longtail Kitchen on my sleeve. It’s the more casual and affordable version of Maenam (who still have an awful Flash-based website). I was less enthralled with Fat Mao, their other restaurant. But on December 1, after several months of gestation, Angus & Co. opened up Freebird Chicken Shack at River Market in New West. It’s the same mini-Granville Island market that houses Longtail Kitchen and Re-Up BBQ. With a tight, focused menu, does Freebird bring my dreams of hawker stall-style eating to the Lower Mainland?
Kin Kao on Commercial Drive was the first Thai restaurant in Vancouver to serve Sour Cured Pork Ribs that are fermented with cooked rice for a few days then deep fried. I love the sour tang (similar to flavours in some kinds of charcuterie), and it’s excellent with beer! (You can read my review of Kin Kao here.)
Recently, Longtail Kitchen started serving their own version that had a more pronounced sour tang:
It was a massive 10-day vacation in Los Angeles around Easter long weekend where we visited ~32 food/beer places. We brought Wicca’s mom there for the annual Qingming Festival (Ching Ming aka Tomb-Sweeping Day) because Wicca’s maternal grandparents are interred in one of the Chinese cemeteries there. We also did a whole lot on our own, so let’s jump into it!
I’ve split this trip report into sections this time (click on the days to view the post). I’ve added stars (*) to places that I felt were the best experiences of the trip:
Wicca and I sometimes differ on restaurants. Some I like more than she does (Alibi Room), and of course she has her own preferences and favourites. One place we BOTH agree on is Longtail Kitchen with their punchy, powerful Thai flavours in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. We find it quite easy to make the effort to drive out to New West, even though everyone we talk to groans about how far it is.
Longtail put on a special Valentine’s Day menu for $55 per person, so we went and here’s what happened!
I was both excited and nervous about trying the newest Thai restaurant on Commercial Drive, Kin Kao. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I have the highest regard for Longtail Kitchen in New West. But Kin Kao is closer to my house and also has good beer…it feels I’m being unfaithful to my spouse. Are the menus different enough so that I can frequent both places? Do I have anything to worry about? Do I need to make sure I don’t have glitter all over my clothes when I get home?
Aree Thai on Kingsway has been around since at least 2010. I got some really good takeout from them about 4 years ago and was impressed enough to bring a whole group to try dinner. Unfortunately that dinner experience kinda sucked…small portions, slow service, underwhelming flavours. We didn’t go back…until now. We quite enjoyed it!