Right up front I’ll tell you I’ve been to this restaurant before, about 5 years ago but wasn’t impressed with their food. This time though, with even more of a critical eye since having traveled in Thailand and sampled true Thai flavors, I was quite surprised by Thai Boat.
For appetizers, we ordered plameug wong (calamari with ginger sauce, $7) and a bowl each of tom yam soup ต้มยำ, ($4) one with chicken, one with prawns. For meals, we requested phad thai ผัดไทย (noodles, $10), neua narm tok (beef salad, $9), and coconut rice ($1.70 per bowl). For dessert, we tried a plate of sticky rice with mango ($4) and fried apple rings with a scoop of coconut ice cream ($4).
The deep fried calamari rings were sitting in a delicious lemon grass and ginger sauce! It was so tasty I had to lick the remaining sauce after we finished the rings. The tom yam was full of sour, sweet, salty, and spicy flavors … exactly as anticipated, complementing yet competing. We would have preferred a little more heat in both appetizers but I forgot you can ask for various spicy levels (mild, medium, hot) when you order.
The phad Thai noodles were cooked perfectly, not overcooked and mushy. I’ve seen restaurants use either thin or thick pad noodles. Thai Boat uses thin noodles. The beef salad was both deliciously tangy and sour. I really enjoyed the fresh crisp lettuce served with the warm beef. The server had said that this dish was large enough for two. It wasn’t; I could have eaten the whole salad by myself. As for the coconut Jasmin rice, it’s a must in Thai meals. It adds calories but the coconut is a great compliment to the Thai spices.
For dessert, I was surprised that the sticky rice was served warm. I think fresh mango slices would be better than the canned fruit that was used for this sweet dessert. We were divided on whether we liked this dessert or not. For our other desert 2 small fried apple rings were served warm with a scoop of coconut ice cream. It is an interesting texture sensation … warm crispy rings against soft cold ice cream. Enjoyable though.
The decor in Thai Boat has authentic artwork, weaved material (as tablecloths), and pictures similar to ones I saw while traveling in Thailand. You can even see a picture of the current Thai King and Queen hanging on the wall. (the Thai people love their King!) There’s an inviting bamboo swing in the back for you to try out. Their dishware is a matching set of elephant covered ceramics. Their silver rice containers and water pitchers are quite ornate.
From what I overheard, there are Thai speaking servers. They are friendly and efficient. I would highly recommend Thai Boat as a good restaurant to get your Thai fix. It’s not exactly as I tasted throughout Thailand but Calgary doesn’t have the easy accessibility to the necessary fresh herbs and ingredients as they do over there. But, Thai Boat sure does a good job with blending the right mixes together.
I’ve been to Thai Boat on several occasions and have never had a bad experience. After convincing Nancy to give it another chance I’m pleased that her first try was just a random bad day for what to me has always been a good restaurant.
It’s been some time since I’ve last visited Thai Boat and there have been some changes that I feel I need to remark on. First is that the portion sizes have gotten smaller, and while we North Americans are used to overly large portions and don’t actually need them I’m disappointed by this. The second and most noticeable change is that the cooks have really toned down the flavors in the food. Obvious was the near total lack of heat (spiciness) in any of the dishes we ate. I’d become used to the very spicy Tom Yam soup and the slight kick of flavors from the Phad Thai noodles that were once present. I understand that many westerners don’t find heat appealing and this is without a doubt the reason for it, but I would think anyone wanting Thai food would expect the heat and it should be the norm. Let the “milk sops” who don’t like the heat have to ask for a change and not the other way around. Some of the other flavors that are very Thai, such as galangal also seemed to be muted. I’ll be asking for the full effect next time round and should get what I’m used to.
This visit to Thai Boat, like so many others was enjoyable and I will return (with Nancy now) in the future and recommend this place to others.