Thai Place Restaurant
2359 Banff Trail NW
Tel: (403) 338-4405
Original post below:
Given the high volume of restaurants and eateries that we cover here on foodosophy, its become less and less likely that we’ll find that yet undiscovered place that can surprise us…
But on my last visit to Calgary in late-August, I had just that kind of experience. And in of all places… within a cookie cutter, value-priced hotel situated next to one of the busiest commuter roads in the city. Better known as Motel Village (given the other discount places to stay on the same street), its not exactly a prime dinner destination area (although there are a few places to eat directly behind all these hotels – one of which I’ve already posted about).
Now I am sure there are those who know about this place, but it would have been hard to believe them had I not seen it for myself. Passing through the lobby area, and into the main area that splits out to reveal a large open swimming pool smack dab in the middle of the hotel, off to one side of this space is Thai Place. Just looking at the entrance and you’d make the stereotypical judgment that this is just another of those dreadful budget hotel restaurants, albeit with an ethnic twist. I had very low hopes for my meal.
To my shocking surprise at this early dinner hour, there was already a big party of eight seated inside. They didn’t look like a traveling group who had the misfortune of actually staying in the hotel, so that should have been another hint to me. Still oblivious to things, my dining companion and I took a seat while the busy single server glanced at us to say, I’ll be with you in a moment with the menus. Not long after, a few other pairs of diners walked in and followed suit. By this time, my Spidey-sense was buzzing like crazy, both with bewilderment and anticipation.
After all, why would all these people be here and actually choose to eat here?
My opening volley was this serving of deep fried dumplings ($12). I don’t know what possessed me to order this other than the fact I wanted something easy to snack on before my main dish. These were definitely frozen and mass produced quality. The sweet and tangy dipping sauce perhaps the only part of this that was made from scratch in the kitchen.
The low point of the meal was my partner’s Tom Yum Gai (chicken) soup ($7). According to them, they were very disappointed, but this is from someone who lives in a place where they can quickly and easily fly to Bangkok for a weekend trip. So higher standards definitely played a role in this judgment. Unfortunate for them, their main of another fried rice noodle dish ($12) was also given the thumbs down. Sorry, no image supplied of that.
And then my Pad Thai ($11) arrived and saved the meal! Wow, I couldn’t believe the first mouthful I took after putting on the side-plated condiments. Great texture of the rice noodles struck me first. The potent flavours of those distinctive Thai ingredients that makes Pad Thai such a satisfying dish were laid out and integrated together throughout. Throw in the couple pieces of prawns to give it some more volume and taste, and I had to proclaim this the best Pad Thai I’ve had in western Canada, probably be a wide margin.
Thinking back on my experience now, I have to wonder, was I extraordinarily hungry? Was I mesmerized by the crowds inside? Were my initial low expectations so poor that what came out of the kitchen seemed to be exponentially greater than it was? Honestly, I don’t think any of these came into play a great deal. This was just a really delicious Pad Thai. Had I not had other pre-planned dinner engagements the rest of my nights in Calgary, I would have certainly come back. In fact, next time I do visit, I am sure that I will…