KHAO SAN ROAD: New favourite Thai

647-352-5773    |    $12-16 entrees

 

I think this an argument (like best pizza in Toronto) that no one really agrees on. I quite enjoyed Salad King, but I’ve been told to come here on more than one occasion. Even the website header proclaims its “the best thai food” in the city. Let’s say I wouldn’t bet against it.

Food

The menu is surprisingly concise, offering a handful of choices in starters, curries, noodles, and specials. My one complaint about mediocre Thai food is I find too many dishes occupy the same flavour profile, which makes a small menu a little risky. Thankfully, this was far from mediocre.

I tasted a lot so I’ll try to be concise.

We started with the summer rolls with chicken sausage and the squash fritters in red curry paste, shrimp paste and lemongrass. First, the garlicky chicken elevated the usual raw vegetable blandness a bit, but I think the rolls could have used even more of that garlic flavour. I have no complaints about the fritters…because they are addictive. The squash is flavourful, perfectly fried. The breading adds a little depth to the squash and you end up wondering if you should get a second order when you’ve cleaned the plate of all the little crispy bits (the answer is yes by the way).

We sampled four mains. Here they are from OK to woah:

- Pad Thai: Should the most well-known be the measuring stick? I don’t think so. We found it to be a little one-note, a tangy-sweetness was the only thing we really got out of this. Good, but not best.

- Gaeng Kaew Wan or Green Curry w/chicken: We ordered this pretty spicy and it delivered. Much brighter flavour than the other orders and very pointed heat that doesn’t creep up on you at all. It was more soupy than others I’ve had, which was good for putting it over rice, got right in there.

- Gaeng Massaman w/chicken: This curry had such a wonderful combination of deep roasted peanut and stewed onion flavour. I haven’t had anything like that before in a curry. I wouldn’t say its like peanut sauce though, it’s heartier than that. In any case, rounded out with tender potatoes and tamarind sauce, this was a winner.

- Khao Soi (above, after a bunch of bites): This is one of those woah-inducing first bites. You feel a responsibility to let everyone know it’s delicious. Rich, spicey coconut enriched curry sauce, tasty egg noodles and melt in your mouth braised beef made this a favourite around the table. I think it could have used a lighter hand with the sauce though as the noodles swim in it once you get halfway through the dish and the richness gets to be a bit much.

Also had their chai nom yen, a traditional iced tea with condensed milk, crushed ice and Thai spices. If you’ve ever had horchata in Spain (a cold drink made with nuts, with a milky, slightly sweet taste), it’s reminiscent of it, but with chai flavour instead of the nuttiness. Liked it.

Service and Ambience

We were here on halloween so the place was decorated as such with servers in full costume. I’m not sure what our server was, but it didn’t matter. Checked back frequently, offered recommendations, easy going, and a nice guy. I liked the decor, was down to earth, little rustic, but tweaked with more modern touches. I thought the place would seat more people but it’s small. Explains the lines I’ve heard about.

Now if you want to avoid lines, you can always call for takeout which also seems popular; there was a pretty steady stream of pick-up orders running through the restaurant all night.

The Reco?

On the merit of great food I ate, I’d tell you to go here soon. I’m certain the rest of the menu holds more treasures, and it offers some serious value. Is it the best Thai in TO to me? So far.

Other reviews:
National Post|   Globe and Mail    |    dine.TO

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Oct 31st, 2011

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