The Comfort is in the Heat: Boualouang

Though Chinatown is only a ten minute walk from Downtown, depending on what event we’re running to, sometimes it is an additional distance we don’t have time to travel. That wasn’t the case on Thursday, when both the weather and our schedules were cooperative, with our Global Visions screening at Paramount falling at 8 (on a sidenote – I don’t like the trend of plays moving their start times to 7:30. I like the option of lingering at dinner).

As a result, I was finally able to return to Boualouang, many months after my first visit, and six months since the restaurant relocated down the block to a beautifully-renovated space. While the original location was functional and well-kept, it was bland and visually unattractive. This new venue better suits the wonderful food produced by the kitchen, and of course, provides the owners with a few tables to spare (they seemed to be forever turning people away at the previous restaurant). I especially love the lavish blue drapes that help separate the room from the bustling world outside.

Interior

I was very tempted to order a dish I hadn’t yet tried, but the side of me seeking a familiar, reassuring meal eventually won out. I couldn’t complain though – their green curry is (in my opinion), the best in the city. The chicken was tender, drenched in a sauce lovingly prepared with flavour that was worth the heat (which is saying something for a person who usually stays away from spice). We ended up ordering an additional bowl of coconut rice to soak up the curried goodness, and kept our server busy who insisted on keeping our water glasses filled to the brim.

Green Curry

The pad thai was also great, with a serving size that blows me away each time. Mack loved the grilled shrimp (and surprisingly) the tofu strips, and though isn’t a big fan of the sweet and spicy profile of the dish, was willing to overlook it for me.

Pad Thai

We were both stuffed, with leftovers remaining. For just over $40 (including tip), we were treated to a satisfying, relaxing meal with time to spare before our next engagement. If you’re in the area, be sure to keep Boualouang in mind.

Boualouang
10569 97 Street
(780) 423-4207
Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 12-9pm

Gems are Always Tiny: Boualouang

I had been warned that Boualouang, a Thai and Laos eatery in Chinatown, was tiny, but I wasn’t prepared for a space that likely wasn’t ever meant to be a restaurant. Dickson and I intentionally planned a late meal, and arrived at Boualouang at 1pm in an attempt to avoid the lunch rush, and were lucky enough to snag the last of six tables.

As our table was nudged right up against the door, we were both thankful that it wasn’t –30 outside – as it stands, their heating bill must be astronomical. Of course, having seen evidence of a larger storefront about two blocks down 97th Street, I was assured Boualouang would be relocating soon (perhaps April?), and given the number of parties the waitress had to turn away during our stay, I’m sure the move isn’t soon enough.

Dickson in Boualouang (yes, the restaurant is just three tables deep)

I had heard from others that their curries were a must-try, so decided on the Gaeng-Kiew-Vahn, a green curry and coconut milk with mushrooms, green peppers, sweet basil and chicken ($12.95), and upgraded the steamed rice accompaniment to coconut rice for an additional $1.50. We also had to try our benchmark Thai dish – the pad thai with shrimp ($13.95).

From the pace that the dishes were being delivered to the other tables, we knew we were in for a wait. Given the size of the dining room, we could only guess the size of the kitchen. A half hour after putting in our order, our green curry arrived. It was definitely worth the wait – the heat was balanced perfectly with the tang provided by the kaffir leaves, and the chicken was meltingly tender. Paired with the richness of coconut rice, we would have easily given up the pad thai for a second helping of curry.

Green Curry with Chicken

The pad thai was presented in a nice reflective bowl lined with lettuce and garnished with orange slices. Both of us were surprised at how deep the dish was, but could have done without the slight pool of grease at the bottom of it. I liked the use of a broader noodle than most Thai eateries, and neither of us had anything negative to say about the pad thai as a whole, except that it didn’t wow us like its curry predecessor.

Pad Thai

Though we made it back out through the doors a little later than we had planned, uncovering another gem was well worth it. I will be back to give the rest of the curries a try.

Boualouang
10669 97 Street
(780) 423.4207
Monday – Saturday 11am-9pm