Table scraps 

A journey into the heart of Thai cuisine: Exploring the many flavours of Southeast Asia from the Upper Village

As a huge fan of anything hot and spicy, I’ve been meaning to check out the only Thai restaurant in town since I moved to Whistler in July.

Thai cuisine is a favorite indulgence of mine, but it’s something I’m a little too intimidated to try and cook at home, aside from preparing my own version of a salad roll filled with shrimp, glass noodles, cucumber, carrot, crushed peanuts and cilantro, which I’m sure would be considered blasphemous to a true Thai connoisseur.

There is a certain art to finding that perfect balance between hot, sour, sweet, salty and bitter, which is often accomplished by blending popular ingredients like chilies, coconut milk, and lime juice with fragrant herbs and spices like cilantro, turmeric, garlic, lemongrass and tamarind.

So, when friends of mine asked me to tag along with them to check out Thai One On, I was more than happy to oblige.

When we arrived to find the main dining room was booked for a party of 55, we glanced skeptically at one another, but took a seat in the smaller front area of the restaurant. It turns out our concerns were completely unfounded — our server was attentive, friendly, and prompt throughout the evening, returning a few times to check on us and make small talk.

It was a Friday night, so a mango sake margarita ($5.95) seemed like the proper way to start the meal off, and our waitress nodded enthusiastically when we ordered, pausing only to warn us that they go down very smoothly. Blended to perfection, and beautifully presented with a sugared rim, wedge of pineapple, and ubiquitous umbrella, our server was right — we easily could have polished off a pitcher of this delicious concoction apiece.

Deciding what to order is always a bit of a daunting task, as I tend to get overwhelmed when presented with a lot of options, and there were a number of tempting items on the menu.

For a starter, we opted to try out the vegetable Tom Yum soup ($6.98), which the menu says serves two, but actually satisfied three of us. The tangy hot and sour base, infused with flavours of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and tamarind, is loaded with shiitake mushrooms, carrots and baby corn, and was a hit at our table, warming our taste buds up for the spicier entrees to follow.

The spice certainly did kick in when the kaeng daaeng ($13.98) arrived at our table. This hot red curry, with chicken, sliced green beans, potatoes, and a hint of kaffir lime leaves, is served with fluffy rice and has just the right amount of kick; not too intense, but with a pleasant, slow-building heat that doesn’t leave you desperately grasping for your water glass.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Thai restaurant without ordering at least one version of pad thai, and this visit was no exception. With five variations of this favourite dish on the menu — served with prawns, duck, chicken or tofu — I eventually settled on the vegetarian pad thai jay ($11.98). This tofu and rice noodle entrée came chock-full of water chestnuts, snow peas, lotus root, and other mixed vegetables, fried in a sweet, spicy tomato and tamarind sauce, and garnished with a few springs of fresh cilantro, a generous helping of peanuts, and a wedge of lime.

Finally, the met mamtuang ma pang gai ($14.98) — better known to staff and diners as simply “cashew chicken” — arrived, loaded with wok-fried chicken and fresh veggies, tossed in a light, savory basil sauce, but missing an essential ingredient — the cashews. A quick trip back to the kitchen, and the dish reemerged, picture perfect. Not only is this dish delightful, it’s also extremely amusing to hear someone try to pronounce the full Thai name.

With reasonable prices, exceptional service, and a great variety of authentic dishes to try, it looks like I won’t have to resort to learning how to prepare my own Thai meals at home.

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