I love Thai food. On a mellow Saturday night with the sous chef, we were debating on cooking or going out for dinner. We decided to head out and then after reviewing options, the Sous Chef decided he was in the mood for Thai. My Thai food stand by in Vancouver has been "Sawasdee Thai" on Main and 27th, but I have been hearing a lot of feed-back about a new-ish place "Bob Likes Thai Food"(also on Main but further down around 17th) and decided we should check it out.
First off, the name of the restaurant is fun and kind of sets the tone and expectations for a casual meal.
There was a bit of hype when the place opened in 2010 and it seems to have settled into the neighbourhood. It was full with a totally mixed crowds (all ages, all ethnicities, some families, some groups, some couples) when we arrived, but we only had to wait for about 5 minutes. The restaurant isn't fancy and there aren't any of the bright colours and Thai decor stand-bys that you usually see in Thai restaurants. There is a weird little sink by the wall of the small waiting area, a few vintage looking chairs and trunks with books and magaizines. To get to the bathroom, you have to go through the kitchen.
I loved the playful wood-plank drawings of Bob's fork and spoon on opposite walls.
As we looked over the menu (which unfortunately didn't seem to have very many vegan options for the sous chef), we decided we were thirsty for beer. Unfortunately, our server informed us that they do not have a liquor license and don't serve beer. Kind of a bummer.
We ordered two dishes to share. First up was Papaya Salad $6.50, Shredded green papaya with green beans, tomato, garlic, chillies, fresh lime juice. This was really delicious- sour and spicy- and tasted super fresh. The spice level was pretty good, just a subtle burn that makes your mouth tingle.
Next to arrive was our order of Chu Chi Pla $12.50, Dry Red Curry with fish, basil, lime leaf and bell peppers. Thai curries can be either "wet" or "dry." Wet curries contain significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on coconut milk or stock. Dry curries are cooked with very little liquid which is allowed to evaporate leaving the other ingredients coated with the spice mixture. This was a slightly spicy, slightly sweet curry that was still quite wet but the sauce had a thicker gravy-ish consistency. The fish wasn't identified but was a white fish, cooked quite well (not chewy or rubbery) with a light flavour.
We also ordered two sides of coconut rice (I believe these were $2.50 each). The rice was delicious but quite a small bowl for the price they were charging. We actually found all of the portion sizes to be a bit small in relation to the prices. Overall, the food at "Bob Likes Thai Food" was tasty and you can tell they put some love in the food and use fresh, quality ingredients. I found that the flavours weren't "watered down" like they are in many of Vancouver's Thai restaurants. The vibe is extreme casual and unlike any other Thai restaurant in Vancouver. They give you a knife and large spoon for cutlery instead of chopsticks. It has a certain charm, but I did feel a lack of warmth and cozy-ness. I will come back and try more dishes (they have great sounding lunch specials for under $8) but I didn't love it as much as I had hoped.