My favourite Thai restaurant on Vancouver Island is Baan Thai in Victoria. I was hoping it was a national franchise when I moved here and saw a restaurant of the same name on Dundas West. Somehow I knew it was not related. Perhaps the ginormous yellow lettering on the window that reads: TAKE OUT & DELIVERY.
Baan Thai (The Junction) like to play games with you. The exterior suggests an establishment akin to The Green Mango at Yonge/Bloor. Simple, quick and functional, tasty but not somewhere you’d go for a “dining experience “. Then you enter and, though the decorations might be a touch in the tacky side, the room had an undeniable atmosphere. You begin to think it could be somewhat like the Bangkok Paradise on Queen Street. Even when the waitress answers your query about which of their curries is hottest with a confused look and “The green curry is most popular,” you have a pretty good feeling.
Then your green curry, served with “in season vegetables”, arrives but the vegetables had clearly been frozen. The withered carrot cubes are a dead give-away. I suppose frozen vegetables are technically always in season. Or perhaps the “in season” referred to a bumper crop of bamboo shoots, the entirety of which seemed to be in your dish.
Again, upon tasting the curry itself, you begin to have high hopes. Sure, the rice is a tad cold, but the curry is spicy and decent enough for a fair price. Your high hopes are once again dashed as the wait for your companion’s vegetarian Pad Thai grows to a disconcerting length. At least you are able to make jokes about how it’s also going to have frozen vegetables on it. There should be a word for culinary schadenfreude. Sculinfreude perhaps (the S is silent).
But no! The veggies on the vegetarian Pad Thai are fresh! Plus it is declared “Good!” and “A ridiculous amount of food for seven dollars.” Two meals worth, easily. The wait was probably due to the vast amount of take-out and delivery business they were doing during our meal. It was actually quite a floor show. From the forgotten rice in one woman’s order to the grumpy steroid abusing weekend dad who was picking up dinner for his kids (even though he’d eaten there at lunch), it was never a dull moment. The cast of characters was TV-sitcom worthy. Mandi even thought she spied a massage table in the backroom. The mind boggles.
There were no other sit-down customers while were there which indicates what we’d come to realize. The large yellow wording on the window tells you all you need to know. This is a satisfying and affordable take-out joint. As there website curiously states: “Fair price, clean food, friendly service.”
3 .5 kitchy Thai statues out of 5 (there were far more than five statues in the restaurant).