Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Curry Bowl - Fernie, BC

To kick off our holiday vacation, my companion and I decided to make the big drive down from Edmonton, AB to Fernie, BC Alpine Resort to enjoy our first time out boarding this season. After anxiously checking the snow reports and finding a disappointing base of only about 100 cm, we were rewarded with a winter storm warning that predicted a fresh dump of 35 cm the night we were driving in. After blowing through six hours of fresh, mind-blowing, waist-deep powder we were both exhausted and famished. Our first choice for dinner was the local sushi restaurant Yamagoya. As it turned out, the one night we were in town, Yamagoya had the staff Christmas party, so we were left with no choice but to head down the street to The Curry Bowl, a house-converted-Thai-restaurant. (We ended up extending our boarding trip for dinner at Yamagoya, but more on that later!)

Panang Curry (side of rice and pickled vegetables)
Since it was a last minute change, we arrived at a packed restaurant without reservations. Luckily, we arrived a little past prime-dinner time at 8:00PM and were quickly seated for dinner after only a 15-minute wait. While we were waiting, we had a chance to peruse the menu and were ready to order as soon as we were seated. My companion ordered a Panang Curry and hot chocolate (after we were informed that the Limeade was out) while I decided on Mango / Shrimp Curry and traditional Chai tea. The drinks came out as we were discussing the decor of the restaurant: it featured simple furniture with grey-brown, stone tiles and rustic wooden beams. It had a quaint and cozy environment, just the kind of fireside-feel you need after a day of hard snowboarding. My Chai tea came out steaming hot with swirls of cinnamon powder sprinkled on top. The cinnamon powder added a nice, spicy aroma to the Chai tea. As good as it smelled, the Chai tea turned out rather tasteless and the cinnamon powder did not add the spicy-sweet taste of cinnamon sugar I was expecting; instead it made the first part of my Chai tea taste rather chalky. My companion’s hot chocolate, on the other hand, was rich in chocolate flavour and featured little floating marshmallows – exactly like the kind I drank back in my childhood.

Mango / Shrimp Curry
(with a side of rice and pickled vegetables)
The main courses came out as we were sipping our drinks: both dishes featured a bowl of curry in a traditional Thai-style bowl accompanied by a medium-sized portion of rice and a side of pickled vegetables. Although the golden Thai-style bowls added a nice touch, presentation for both main courses was utterly sloppy. There was curry running along the rims of both bowls and my particular dish had a splash of curry on the rice and plate. Definitely sloppy handiwork in my opinion.The first bite of my mango curry had a smooth, thick texture that slid all the way down to my stomach and warmed me from the inside out. It had a rich, peanut-taste which I found very unique from other curries. By the middle of my Mango / Shrimp Curry, however, I realized I had no idea what I was eating: I never found any shrimp, or at least anything that resembled shrimp texture or taste, in my curry; I never got a burst, or even a hint of the sweet mango explosion that I loved in so many other mango dishes; and I never got a sense of any other spices or coconut flavour that I love so much about curry dishes. Instead, by 3/4 of the dish, everything in my curry started tasting rather like starchy potatoes covered in a rich peanut-sauce. The dish overall lacked any sharp spice taste, fiery kick, or coconut sweetness that could cut through the unique peanut taste. The panang curry is a traditional red Thai curry which features a mild broth rich in coconut milk and very little other liquid. My companion’s Panang Curry, like my Mango / Shrimp Curry, had an exquisite first bite which featured a thick broth that highlighted rich spices and a sharp, salty taste and was very unique from the traditional panang curry I was accustomed to. Although both curries had wonderfully unique first-bites, my companion and I agreed that by the end of the night, the curries were quickly forgettable and when visiting a Thai restaurant, we much preferred traditional coconut-infused curries.

The atmosphere and service at The Curry Bowl are exactly what you need after a hard day of snowboarding at Fernie. However, the main dishes, while unique on first-bite, became bland and forgettable and lost major style points for sloppy presentation.

Top Pick: home-style hot chocolate


3/5 Erics

The Curry Bowl on Urbanspoon

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