The Ticket: A taste of Thailand

Thai food, in case you haven't noticed, is a big deal right now. Here's your chance to try some of the best in town

Thai food, in case you haven’t noticed, is a big deal right now. Here’s your chance to try some of the best in town

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seems to be the guiding principle at play for Vancouver’s most storied Thai restaurant, one that’s been around for 30 years—yes, it was opened the same year as Expo 86—and one that intends to still be here after the next 30 are done. A lot has changed over those last 30 years, though, from the way Thai food is prepared to how it’s consumed and understood. “Thai food wasn’t as popular back then,” says Brian Kongslip, one of the original owners’ two sons who now manages the business. “It was more of a novelty. But now, it’s trendy. It’s one of the top foods in the world.” But, Kongslip says, he has no intention of trying to reinvent the wheel. “That’s how SalaThai stayed for so long—and I think it’ll stay for another 30 years,” Kongslip says. “It’s true to itself, and it won’t change—it won’t go fusion. We’ll keep the same technique.”That technique will be on display next Monday, when chefs from SalaThai and three other local Thai restaurants square off in a friendly culinary competition. Each will be asked to prepare dishes from four distinct regions, with the guests assembled not only trying them but delivering the final verdict as well. Add in some traditional Thai fruit carving, a bit of dancing, and Thailand’s favourite beer (and of the Okanagan’s newer wines) and you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic evening. SalaThai’s chef Eddie will be joined by chefs from Sawasdee, Ban Chok Dee Thai, U & I Thai, and Soi Gaow Market (which hasn’t opened yet to the public).But while SalaThai isn’t about to radically revamp the way it does business, Kongslip says there’s plenty of room in Vancouver for our appreciation and understanding of Thai food to grow. That desire to push the boundaries of how we think about Thai food—or, as he puts it, show “that there’s more than Pad Thai and Tom Yum in Thai cuisine”—is one of the driving forces behind the event. It’s also why he’s excited about Maenam’s recent win at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards for Restaurant of the Year—and why he thinks there’s we’re on the verge of a boom in Thai food. “It’s starting. He’s doing it his way, and once I do it my way I think it will expand Vancouver’s perspective on Thai food. It’s like working together—but not really.”What: Tastes of ThailandWhen: Monday, May 9 | 7:00pm – 9:00pmWhere: SalaThai, 102 – 888 Burrard Street, VancouverGet your tickets (before they run out) here: