[Note: Reviewer personally knows business owners.] Sai’s Place Spice Cafe is the newest Cowichan Valley Thai Food restaurant. Sai’s Place is named after Thai Chef Mayurawan’s ( May ) father, who was a businessman in Thailand. May currently owns a sucessful Thai massage business in Duncan. May has cooked for many years, and was encouraged by friends and family to share her skills with others. Earlier this summer May opened the Spice Cafe with the help and support of her partner Grant McHardie, a long-time resident of the Cowichan Valley, and business owner himself. A contractor and wood finisher, Grant builds cedar-strip canoes and wooden hoops for traditional drums, which are shipped all over the world. Grant and May undertook a complete re-vamp of the location on Station Street and modernized the kitchen, opened up the front seating area and gave it a fresh bright warm look.
I have had the opportunity to know May and Grant for several years, and have enjoyed May’s cooking many times. Her attention to detail and insistence that traditional methods, and ingredients be used have always been her trademark. There are no quick “slap-it-together” meals in May’s repertoire, her spices and sauces are traditionally ground in a mortar and pestle, ingredients sourced near and far, and her sauces are handmade.
My personal favourites from Sai’s place include the House Salad roll, which is a delicate roll of veggies and fruit wrapped with a nearly clear rice wrap and served with a sauce that can vary in spice heat from absolutely none, to screaming hot. ( Although from experience I know I can’t handle that much heat..! ) I also love May’s deep-fried spring rolls, which are served with a very flavourful sweet and sour sauce.
The Tom Kha, or House Soup as its called, is an amazing coconut soup with vegetables and served with a mound of rice that you eat traditionally by dipping the rice into the soup and eating together. Pad Thai, which is a very common Thai food dish is different at Sai’s Place. Instead of the common saucy variety, May’s Pad Thai is drier, and far more flavourful. She uses eggs and mixes it into the meal of sprouts and noodles. Its one of the dishes I love ordering at Sai’s Place.
If you are out and about Vancouver Island, do stop into Duncan and venture to the city centre ( several blocks off the main highway ) Station Street is easy to find, and there are several blocks of nice shopping, dining and exploring to be found. There at the end of the street, nestled into a historic building you will find Sai’s Place Spice cafe. The Cowichan Valley’s newest restaurant gem. Grant and May are sure to be there, to greet you with a smile, and some of the best Thai and Asian Fusion street food you’ve ever had.
They encourage takeout and can be called for pre-order at 250.597.2511
Their website with menus are at www.spicecafeduncan.com