Vancouver has a number of Thai restaurants that pack a punch and attract a full house of hungry diners, and a large handful of these belong to the Thai House Restaurant Group. Along with the Thai House locations, they own Charm Modern Thai, Chili House Thai Bistro, Urban Thai Bistro and their newest offspring, Pink Elephant Thai. When I worked in Yaletown, Urban Thai Bistro was a popular spot we would frequent on our lunches out and I can definitely see Pink Elephant Thai having the same draw for offices and hungry shoppers close to their Alberni (close to Thurlow and Robson) location. They are also open for dinner and later into the evening and the vibe is right for a fun night out.
When you walk into the restaurant, you will immediately notice the hot pink that dances around the room, the beautiful light fixtures and the soaring ceilings. The concept behind the 88 seat restaurant is to come in, order a few plates to share and enjoy sampling different flavours from the varying dishes. They have aptly called this style of eating, “Iza-thai-ya”, a take on Japanese Izakaya. I am a huge fan of sharing small plates and enjoyed my experience at their media lunch. They treated us to 12 different dishes so that we could really get a sense of the menu, and that we did!
We enjoyed the Spicy Butterfly Butter Jumbo Tiger Prawn, which was essentially a large, juicy prawn that had a light dusting of batter and was perfectly deep fried. It was served with swirled egg that had chewy, yet flossy texture that I found welcoming and I really like spice, so I ate some of the accompanying peppercorns and sliced chili.
The Floating Market was a hit at our table with the crispy pieces of spinach tempura, fresh prawns, crunchy cashews and the best dipping sauce, ever. The dipping sauce is something similar to a salad I make at home and is made of fish sauce, lime juice, chili, a bit of sugar and they added some scallions and green apple to the mix. It had some heat to it, a bit of sweet and a bit of sour. Perfect!
The Double “O” Lettuce Wraps are great for sharing and the interactive component of making your own wrap adds to the social aspect. It’s a mix of free range ostrich and fresh oysters, some veggies, chili paste and basil. The mixture is served in a bowl on a bed of fried vermicelli and you spoon the mixture into a crispy iceberg lettuce wrap.
The Keang Panang Pla (salmon) and Coconut Curry made with oxtail were both rich and had a beautiful sauce. The creaminess of the coconut balanced out the heat and would be the perfect comfort meal on a cool day.
I generally am not a fan of many Pad Thai dishes because of the heavy use of ketchup, but I enjoyed Pink Elephant Thai’s because they steered away from this common ingredient and stuck to using tamarind, which gives a much better flavour, in my opinion. And, what made this one extra special was the addition of soft shell crab. I certainly wouldn’t have expected that.
My favourite dish had to be the Pla – Salmon, by far. I’m a sucker for salmon, fresh flavours, crunch and a little bit of heat and that’s exactly what this dish is. The plate is adorned with seared salmon, fresh lemongrass, squeezed lime juice, cashews and crisp sliced apples. To me, this screams summer at it’s best and I have been craving it ever since.
Grab some friends and head to Pink Elephant Thai to enjoy friendly hospitality, food made with love and the fun atmosphere.
You can follow them on Twitter: @pinkethai