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Nurse turned chef opens elegant Thai restaurant in Richmond, launches take-out offerings

A fresh new spot for getting traditional Thai eats has opened up in Metro Vancouver

Chef Nutcha Phanthoupheng is using her background as a former nurse and cancer researcher to create fresh, elegant, and authentic Thai dishes at her new restaurant in Richmond's Steveston community. 

Baan Lao, which is situated along the waterfront east of the village's core business area (but definitely within strolling distance), opened earlier in 2021, but soon found itself having to close its doors to dine-in customers due to the restrictions in B.C. aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Now Baan Lao has launched take-out and delivery service for lunch and dinner, including combination meals as well as a la carte dishes, all showcasing the restaurant's emphasis on fresh farm-to-table ingredients.

"We want to trace where all of our food comes from – land, sea, and farm to table," explains Baan Lao on its website. In fact, Baan Lao supports its philosophy by indicating where all of the restaurant's ingredients come from, like the organic rice they use, which was grown on the family’s rice fields in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

From the Fraser Valley, Baan Lao sources its organic pork, beef, chicken and duck from Sumas Mountain Farms, and gets Thai basil from a grower in Langley.

However, Baan Lao is also doing growing right there at the restaurant; they have a green roof and a living wall to keep them in the freshest greens possible.

Everything on the menu is scratch-made, with one exception: the fish sauce.

In alignment with the ingredients' pedigrees, Phanthoupheng has an impressive culinary resume, having trained with Thailand's Iron Chef as well as the chef for the Thai Royal family, in addition to having received formal training in certification and diploma programs in Thailand.

New lunch and dinner take-out options

The Baan Lao menu is presented typically - when dine-in restrictions aren't in place - as an upscale multi-course tasting experience aimed at taking you and your tastebuds right to Thailand without leaving Richmond. 

For the take-out program, Baan Lao has curate sets like the Thai rotisserie half-chicken, featuring a tender, juicy organic chicken that is a family favourite recipe. The Colonel had best move over, because this chicken is marinated for 24-hours in a special blend of 17 Thai herbs and spices. The result: A crave-worthy main course that ticks all the boxes of great takeout and Thai cuisine, with its hits of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. On the side, a refreshing green papaya salad and rice, with Baan Lao's Chaa Ma Naao, a house-made Thai iced tea that's sour-sweet and refreshing.

Available for lunch and dinner, the chicken to-go set is a great intro to Baan Lao, however, you can round out your meal with items from the menu like the Phat Thai, the classic dish of rice noodles in a tamarind sauce with plump shrimp and bites of tofu and egg. The noodle dish is robust without being heavy, and tastes great as cold leftovers right out of the box (ideally consumed standing in front of the fridge, you know the drill).

For dinner-time take-out, Baan Lao has three additional three-course meal sets, one of each focused on celebrating the land, the sea, and the field, as well as dishes on the a la carte menu.

The name Baan Lao means "our home," and that welcoming feel is evident even if the farthest you'll get nowadays is at the front entrance to pick up your take-out order. The staff is friendly and gracious, and you may wind up, as I did, chatting with another customer who is already a big fan of Baan Lao's dishes and care in selecting premium ingredients. 

A peek inside the light, and airy dining room with fresh touches of vibrant green, and the big river-facing windows - followed by a taste of their food packed up to-go

Takeout is available from Baan Lao Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. Baan Lao is located at 4100 Bayview Street in Richmond.