The Truth About Lhy Thai
After we moved into the Edmonds neighbourhood of Southeast Burnaby, our friends Candace and Trevor—of Baked Mac & 8 Cheeses notoriety—told us about the “best Thai place” in the neighbourhood. This was great to hear because the only Thai that I’d had in South Burnaby east of Boundary was Thai House Royale (not to be confused with Thai House), which is okay, but overpriced…and their Pad Thai is inconsistent. Sometimes it is pretty good, sometimes mediocre, and sometimes it is god-awful. Inconsistent Pad Thai is a big problem for me because this dish is one of my personal Thai staples. Eating Thai without Pad Thai? Impossible! So when I heard there was a Thai place that was literally just around the corner and that it was awesome, well, I had to try it.
Lhy Thai is a family-owned, tiny hole in the wall that looks a little sketchy on the outside. If you don’t already know it is there, you might drive right past it. I’ll give you a tip: it is across the street from the huge Value Village. I’ll give you another tip: if you go (and leave) before 9 pm, you can park in the huge Value Village parking lot and no one will be the wiser.
Sandwiched between an equally sketchy-looking Chinese restaurant and a dollar store, Lhy Thai is a diamond in the rough. Inside the somewhat dark restaurant, tables are crammed under a dark pink lattice-work ceiling. This is not the place to go for a quiet and romantic dinner. Rather, this is the place to go for cheap and yummy Thai food. How cheap? Most dishes are around $8.50.
For those of you who don’t want to rub elbows with your table neighbour, arrive at noon (for $6.50 lunch specials) or 5 pm (for dinner) on the dot and you’ll have more space and privacy. Lunch hours are from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Dinner hours are from 5:00 to 10:00 pm (closed Sundays).
Or you can also order take-out: orders over $15 are discounted by 10%. Be warned, this place is extremely popular and if you don’t call in your order at 5:00 pm, you may not be able to. I once called 20 times over 20 minutes on a Friday evening around 6:00 pm, but the line was continually busy or it just rang and rang. Finally, I decided to drive over and make sure it was open. Oh, it was open, packed, and the phone was ringing, but no one was picking it up. I told the owner, “I tried to call…” And he said, “Too busy. Hour wait for take-out.” Apparently, when they are very busy they don’t even bother to pick up the phone because most people aren’t going to want to wait an hour for dinner. However, I am not “most people” and I will gladly wait the hour.
Anyway, enough of the back story, here are the details of my most recent dining experience at Lhy Thai. My son, a.k.a. the pickiest eater on the planet (whose son is this?!), and I went for dinner around 6 pm on Wednesday evening. Even though it was hump day, the restaurant was mostly full. I saw one available table towards the back and one near the front window. We took the front table.
We started with an appetizer of spring rolls, as this is one of the few things the little man will eat. The four spring rolls arrived piping hot and crispy, yet not oily at all. They were packed with vermicelli, sliced cabbage, carrot, and black mushrooms and came with a small dish of sweet and sour sauce (not the thick “Chinese”-style syrup variety) with big flakes of red pepper and a dusting of chopped peanuts on top. I found the spring rolls to be above average. They aren’t remarkable; they taste like your average spring rolls. However, the crispiness/non-greasiness of them is what makes them better than the spring rolls you find at a lot of other places.
They must have been surprised by the rest of my order:
- 23. Red Curry, “spicy,” $8.50. Choice of chicken, pork or beef in red curry sauce, bamboo shoots, red and green pepper and sweet basil. (I chose chicken.)
- 26. Kang Ped Yang, “spicy,” $8.50. Roasted duck in the red curry sauce, pineapple, red and green pepper, tomato, grapes, sweet basil and bamboo shoots.
- 67. Phat Phuk, $6.95. Variety of vegetables fried with oyster sauce. (I added a side of peanut sauce for my son.)
- 76. Phat Thai Goong, “mild,” $8.50. Rice noodles fried with prawns, tofu, green onion, tomato sauce, bean sprouts and egg, sprinkled with peanuts.
One of the things I like about Lhy Thai is the customer is in complete control of the spiciness of each dish. The options are mild, medium, spicy, or very spicy. (When I have a head cold with a stuffy nose, I like to order up some red curry and ask for “very spicy.” It works better than Nyquil for relieving conjestion!) Usually, I order everything spicy, but in an attempt to get my son to try something new, I ordered the Pad Thai mild. That proved to be a futile and misguided decision.
The Pad Thai, or Phat Thai, was yummy on this Wednesday evening, but I highly recommend that you order it spicy or very spicy. Even when very spicy, the spiciness doesn’t interfere with the flavour, which is something I really appreciate about Lhy Thai. I’ve been to some places where the spiciness of the dishes drowns out all the flavour until you are only left with the flavour of burning. Yes, that’s right, I said that “burning” is a flavour. Not at Lhy Thai though. The Pad Thai consists of thin, pliable noodles where the sweet sauce seems to be really cooked into the noodles—you won’t find a puddle of sauce at the bottom of your dish when you are done.
The Red Curry with Chicken is another one of my staple Thai dishes. I love it. Lhy Thai’s red curry is a bit on the thin side, which is fine for me because it so easily saturates the rice that way. It also doesn’t have a lot of chicken in it (it is mostly bamboo shoots), but, again, I’m okay with this because I know I certainly need to be eating more veggies anyway.
I really went out on a limb when I ordered the duck. The description was way out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to order something completely different—something I would never normally order—to enhance the review. When I read the description, I knew the Kang Ped Yang was just the thing. I mean, tomatoes, grapes, and pineapples together? I would definitely never even think of putting these ingredients together. However, it was surprisingly tasty. Unlike the Red Curry with Chicken, this dish had plenty of the large, tender pieces of meat. I don’t really know how to accurately describe the flavour of this dish except to say that it is very complex. I took some of the leftovers home to my husband and asked him to describe it. He said, “It’s freakin’ delicious!” I said, “Yeah, but how would you describe the flavour?” He had no answer and I still don’t know. It had the salty meatiness from the duck, the spice of red curry, the tropical kick of pineapples, and a sweet mellowness from the grapes and tomatoes. Sorry Peeps, that is the best I can do…
The Phat Phuk was a healthy blend of cabbage, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, and baby corn. The veggies were tasty and not under- or over-cooked. The little man ate a full-sized portion on rice, doused with the peanut sauce, which is very sweet and very yummy. I, personally, would not recommend the peanut sauce on top of the veggies, as they are already cooked in oyster sauce; it is much better with the Chicken Satay.
These dishes, along with a big bowl of rice, completely took over our tiny table. It was actually pretty funny, although the wait staff seemed to think I was insane. A word about the wait staff: there is often only one waitress for the entire restaurant, with back-up coming from the owner or one of the kitchen staff. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the waitresses work fast and hard (there will be no bemoaning the loss of a good work ethic in this restaurant, oh no!), and I never have to wait long to order or to receive my food, although on occasion I did have to wait a bit longer than I would have liked for a water top-off.
For the purpose of this review, and to please the little man, I did something else new: I ordered dessert. The “Deep Fried Bananas topped with mango ice cream” was $3.50 and worth every penny. I was kicking myself for never trying the dessert before. The warm, soft bananas were covered in a light and completely non-oily batter. They were actually some of the best fried bananas I’ve ever had. The mango ice cream was oh-so-creamy and delicious. Do NOT stuff yourself on the curries and miss out on the dessert when you go to Lhy Thai, for the sake of all things yummy!
So with a bag packed full of left-over Thai food, I left the restaurant very full and very happy. I highly recommend the value of Lhy Thai. If you have any other Thai recommendations in the Southeast Burnaby or New West area, I would love to expand my horizons without traveling too far from home.
7357 Edmonds Street