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Steveston fine dining restaurant introduces ‘first of its kind’ Thai afternoon tea

Baan Lao's chef said their cuisine is targeted for 'sophisticated' customers who are willing to pay for high-quality food and service
Natcha Phanthoupheng, founder and executive chef of Bann Lao, introduced the menu after six months of research and development.

A fine dining restaurant in Richmond has introduced a new high tea offering that they claim to be the “first of its kind” in the world.

Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine, an award-winning Thai food restaurant on the seaside in Steveston, specializes in Thai food using ingredients from local farms and transported by air from Thailand.

This month, the restaurant announced its new “Afternoon Tea Thai Experience,” which it claims to be the world’s first Thai afternoon tea offering and will be available until September.

“I go to dim sum a lot and I have had the English-style afternoon tea, where customers order the food and tea themselves. Then I had an idea to create a set afternoon menu of Thai food that’s paired with tea we choose for the customers,” said Natcha Phanthoupheng, founder and executive chef of Baan Lao.

“There's nothing like that in Thailand or anywhere in the world that does what we are doing, especially with Thai ingredients and Thai food.”

Phanthoupheng said she created the menu after spending six months on research and development. 

It includes four types of tea from Thailand, Japan and China, to be paired with 12 bite-sized Thai dishes carefully crafted with fresh ingredients, including some sourced directly from Thailand, she said.

“Thai food has a variety of tastes - spicy, salty, sweet, sour, all mixed together. Thailand has a lot of quality food that you can see in this afternoon tea,” said Phanthoupheng.

The menu includes some well-known Thai dishes such as mango sticky rice, as well as some traditional Thai desserts Canadians are less familiar with, including taro balls with deep-fried rice.

Phanthoupheng said she steams the sticky rice, soaks it with freshly crushed watermelon juice, dehydrates it for 24 hours before deep frying it. 

The price of the high afternoon tea experience at Baan Lao is not cheap – $95 per person. Phanthoupheng said the guests coming to her restaurant are willing to pay for high-quality food and service, even during a time with high interest rates and inflation.

“The guests that we bring here to Baan Lao know we provide good service, they know the quality of food is fresh – we've sourced everything from local farmers. It's more of guests that are sophisticated who will find and understand fine dining, so it's a different niche market,” said Phanthoupheng.

“There are people talking about the economy being impacted and stuff – it's not the same group of people. The group of people that we have want this type of service, they want quality, they want healthy food. We don't want to feed you anything that's preserved; we make everything fresh.”

Reservations are required for Baan Lao's “Afternoon Tea Thai Experience.”

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