Fish Cakes at the Bangkok Thai Garden in Ottawa
The Bangkok Thai Gardens have had a prime location down in Ottawa’s Byward Market area for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I first ate there many years before I began writing reviews. The food overall has been consistently good, if a little pedestrian, and I don’t recall ever having had anything that could truly be said to be poor quality. The Fish Cakes you see pictured above were generally well prepared, in keeping with the standards of the place but I can’t say I was overly taken by the chef’s use of aromatic spices on this occasion.
This appetizer appeared on the Bangkok Thai Garden menu as ‘Taud Man Pla’, but elsewhere, you can find the name rendered as ‘Tod Mun Pla’, or ‘Thot Man Pla’. I am not entirely sure how the name translates, but the menu description particularized the dish as being ‘Fish Cakes with Cucumber, Peanuts, Sweet and Sour Sauce’. I was a bit misled by this wording at first, but it ultimately turned out that the Peanuts and Cucumber were incorporated in the sauce, not the Cakes themselves.
This was the first time I had ever tried Thai Fish Cakes, but I anticipated that they would be prepared in the same way as Crab is treated in similar dishes like the Crab Cakes at the Royal Thai Restaurant. Essentially, rather than the Western style Cakes of flaked fish, the flesh of the Fish (or Crab) is seasoned and then beaten to a smooth puree before being coated and deep-fried. The result is an entirely different and very pleasing texture.
The texture is a little hard to describe, but when properly done, it is a dense, almost ‘rubbery’ consistency that almost ‘squeaks’ when you bite into it. The word ‘rubbery’ might not sound terribly appetizing but the effect is actually very pleasant and not unlike the texture of Grilled Haloumi, although the taste is understandably very different.
My only complaint about the Fish Cakes at Bangkok Thai is that they were a bit unbalanced in flavor. The only aromatic I could detect was Galanga, and, while I like this, it not only dominated any other spice ingredients, it overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the Fish itself. The sauce, which actually could have been a Chinese style Plum Sauce added a little sweetness, but it didn’t really add much else and, overall, I could only give this appetizer a 3 out of 5 Rating.