On a wet and miserable Thursday night, after my enervating three-hour Psychology lecture, I was accompanied by my vegan friend to a late-night movie. I stated that I was hungry, like I always am, and that I’d like to stop somewhere to get a bite to eat.
Being a small-town girl and knowing very little about Peterborough’s vegan food scene, I asked my friend about some vegan-friendly restaurants aside from the Food Forest. He suggested that we eat at Village of Thai, a small Thai restaurant at the corner of George and Sherbrooke St. As I glanced over their menu, I was intrigued by the variety of curries and noodle dishes. Being one with a fairly diversified vegan palate, I decided to give this place a try.
When we arrived, the restaurant was dimly lit and the tablecloths had stains on them. However, I had always never to judge a book based on its cover (pardon the cliché), so I remained hopeful of a good experience. The server came over to our table after about ten minutes, seemingly a bit cold and unfriendly.
She asked what we would like to drink, and I decided to go with one of my favourite drinks, mango juice. My guest ordered their “Indian beer,” but there was nothing “Indian” about it. It was bottled in New Jersey, and costing $1.26 more than the traditional domestic beer, you expected more than just a fancy label.
After deliberating for a while on our appetizers, we ordered the samosa rolls, followed by the mixed vegetable curry for myself, and vegetable pad thai for my friend. While initially they had a slight problem understanding what the term vegan meant, it was not such a huge issue when we just stated “no meat.”
When the samosas arrived at the table, I was surprised by presentation. Village of Thai put an Asian twist on this traditional Indian dish by presenting them in the form of spring rolls. Just as I was about to take the first bite, I fearfully imagined the taste of traditional MSG-filled Chinese-style spring rolls, but, to my pleasure, they tasted pretty much just like samosas, savoury with a nice balance of traditional Indian spices. The warmth of the curry, with the nuttiness of cumin and tang of coriander, provided the perfect amount of complexity and balance. However, they were slightly oily, which made for a slightly messy dining experience. When our main course arrived, the presentation was simple yet refined.
The curry was adequate. The consistency was a little bit on the watery side, and it was milder than I had expected. Being a girl who can handle the scorching heat of ghost peppers, I expected to feel something more than a slight tingle on my tongue.
One thing I found odd was the fact that it wasn’t served alongside a bed of rice like curry traditionally is. But it wasn’t a big deal, nor was I going to flip the table over in anger because of it. The varying textures of the marinated mixed vegetables accompanying the light peppery kick of red curry made this a fairly decent curry, but not the best I had ever tasted.
Afterwards, I snuck a bite of my friend’s pad thai, and it was surprisingly delicious. I have had my fair share of pad thai, and this was one of the best I had tried to date. Its mellow flavour provided a good counteraction to the samosas we had eaten earlier. The crunchiness of the peanuts and sprouts balanced the rich, buttery consistency of the rice noodles, and was accented with a pungent kick of garlic and piquant hints of tamarind that danced along the roof of my mouth.
We skipped dessert due to the fact that there were no vegan options available, a big turn-off for a vegan who likes their sweet fix. It is beyond my comprehension why more restaurants don’t offer vegan dessert options because, despite popular misconceptions, vegan baking is relatively easy when you have the right ingredients and the ability to improvise a recipe.
Even though I didn’t get to indulge in sweet vegan confection, I would have to say that the main deterrent of the whole evening was the fact that, despite advertising otherwise on their website and business cards, Village of Thai had discontinued their student discount. Being a starving student, every dollar counts.
One of the main reasons we had decided to eat there anyway was because we were under the impression that we would be getting 10 percent off our bills. While the prices were fairly reasonable, when you add on additional costs like drinks and gratuities, the bill adds up quite quickly. The total was just over $50, accounting for about 10 percent of a student’s average monthly rent costs.
Putting it into that perspective, if we were told beforehand that the discount had been discontinued, we might have ordered differently.
One thing I do give Village of Thai credit for, though, is keeping with a traditional South Asian menu unlike the various restaurants who try to adopt numerous identities by fusing Asian and North American cuisines together. (No, I do not like going to a Japanese restaurant and seeing french fries on the menu.)
Despite some of the incidents, overall it was a pleasurable dining experience and I would consider going back someday, but only if they were to reintroduce their student discount.