Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
Suanne and I had an invitation from Charm Modern Thai a couple of weeks ago to check out the restaurant. I had been following their Twitterings for sometime and seeing what they had, we thought we go try their food. Moreover, we had not done many Thai restaurant reviews … so, this looks perfect place for our Friday dinner.
Lately I had been working like a dog with 12-hour days starting at 6AM. I have just a few more weeks to go before a major project delivery — there was just so many loose ends to tie. So I really needed to cap off the week and putting work behind me for the weekend by going out for dinner with Suanne. I enjoy moments like this and it helps.
Charm Modern Thai is located on Hamilton Street in Yaletown. Hamilton Street is like a high end glutton square if you ask me. This stretch is well designed for restaurants with raised platform wide enough for patios which seems to be a crowd puller in warmer weather.
We initially opted to sit indoors. Although pleasant and nice, the decor inside were quite dark. It was also such a sunny day outside we asked for a change of table to the outside.
Service was great and the wait staff who attended to us was very helpful with our questions of the menu. We actually spent quite a bit of time on the menu. It was not a surprise to us because Charm Modern Thai were expecting Suanne and I.
They had quite a number of specials going on every now and then. So, it pays to ask for their specials. Their lunch specials looks like a bargain.
They have a $35 and $25 Set Menu. Comparing the prices of the individual items on the menu, it is way much cheaper getting the Set Menu. It is a four-course menu and is meant for 2 to 6 people. Apparently they have another menu if the party is more than six people.
We opted for the more pricier $35 set menu. After all, it included house wine and has better choices throughout the four courses.
Too bad I did not know there are house wine before I placed my order. I had on the onset ordered a Thai beer to try. The Chang beer ($5) is low in alcohol content at just 5% but that was more than enough for me. I declined the house wine and you know that Suanne doesn’t drink. So, it was kind of a waste!
Suanne and I was so glad that the Chef came to our table and virtually hosted this dinner by being present as each dish was presented. The Executive Chef’s name is Tipnari Kulwinanich but she told us to call her just Tiffanie which was much easier to address her! This is what Suanne and I enjoy in doing reviews — being able to get to know more about the food and the people behind them. It sure adds a dimension to the experience. He he he … this is one of the perks of being food bloggers.
Our first appy is the Rock Pepper with Garlic Prawns. The were four pieces of prawns and served with a delightful mango salad in the middle. The mango salad is flavored with sambal and Nam Prik Pao (roasted Thai Chili Paste) and had a tinge of spiciness added to the sweet-sourness of the mango.
They gave us really big prawns. It was delicious and absolutely delightful, especially the garlic and pepper bits. Ordered on its own, this is $10. We see that almost all tables around us had this distinctly presented prawns.
They also gave me a bowl of lime water with just a small piece of lime in it. It tasted just like water. ;-)
The other appetizer was the Red Curry Mussels ($11 if ordered individually). The mussels were fat and succulent and had a noticeable scent of basil.
Not only were the mussels good, the creamy rich curry was awesome. It was not overly spicy but yet leaves a lingering heat in the mouth. They did not give us a spoon and since we did not want all the good curry to go back to the kitchen, we scooped it up with the shell.
We also asked for some bread to soak up the delicious curry. We expected some simple bread but they gave us a Thai style garlic toast ($3).
It was awesome with the spicy curry. I have a suggestion for them … they simply need to include bread for this dish.
This was just course #1 of four. We were enjoying ourselves!
The second course is soup. We opted for the more expensive prawns soup. The Tom Yum Goong is spicy although it was served as a deceptively clear broth. Mind you, the bowl itself was big and in it were two large prawns. We love this … the prawns and the fresh tasting mushrooms. This is $5.50 as order by itself.
The other soup is called Tom Kar Koong. This is a richer, milder soup yet still spicy. The richness came from the coconut milk used to make this soup. It has a mix of sourness and spiciness but also has a clear coconut flavour to it.
We took the opportunity to ask Tiffanie all sort of questions which she was so helpful. Tiffanie told us that Charm Modern Thai belongs to the same group of restaurants of the Thai House which also operates Chili House, Urban Thai Bistro and believe it or not, the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse. Charm Modern Thai is their latest restaurant having opened just six months earlier. Charm Modern Thai combines Thailand’s renowned authentic tastes, aromas, and warm hospitality with an innovative modern perspective. Charm invites their customers to engage all their senses with the unique, modern and enticing pleasures that seek out their inner Charm.
We asked what is the one dish that they are most proud of. They told us without hesitation the Tamarind Duck ($20 if ordered individually). I can see why.
The duck breast is seared leaving a soft crust outside and glazed with a sweet chili tamarind reduction. Tiffanie told us that they normally make this medium rare but seeing that we are Asians she said she thought that we might like it a bit more cooked.
We asked Tiffanie why is this dish special to her. She said that she is the third generation of Thai chef and had worked in various Thai style restaurants in Thailand, Japan, US, and Australia. The Tamarind Duck was one of the 17 dishes she had to cook given just one day notice to the owners of Thai House. She felt this was one of the dish that made the most impact.
The Chiang Mai Bouillabaisse ($18) has squid, clams, mussels, prawns and fish fillet. It is simmered with court bouillon flavoured broth with an assortment of vegetables, cilantro, lime leaves and fresh lemon juice, ginger, celery and tomatoes. There was a lot of fat succulent seafood here alright.
We just had to have rice with the mains. Their rice are flavored with coconut milk.
For dessert we had was the Chocolate Chili Tart ($4.50). I must admit it tasted kind of weird because it is spicy. I was not much of a fan of dense dessert anyway.
However, on the other end of the plate are some crispy wonton wraps. It’s a simple dish but the mix of icing sugar with the sauces made this something out of the ordinary.
Finally, the other dessert is the Mango Pana Cotta ($6).
All in all, Suanne and I had a great time — the food was better than we expected and the learnings interesting. We did go away discovering a bit more about the restaurant and the people behind the food we had. Like I said, it sure added a different dimension to the meal we had.
Suanne and I was thinking that even for $35, this is better than the $30 Dine Out Vancouver meals we had. It is worthwhile checking this out despite the fact that we had preferential attention for this review.