Showing posts with label durian sticky rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label durian sticky rice. Show all posts

Koh Lipe Thai Restaurant (Toronto)

In the dead of winter, dining at Koh Lipe Thai Restaurant can change your attitude. Set in the “restaurants” section of China Splendid Mall, the tired mall doesn't feel exciting, but walk into the cheerful restaurant and the exterior environment disappears – goodbye winter, goodbye tired looking mall. Hello, Thailand.

And the attraction is not just from the colourful environment. Koh Lipe serves some seriously delicious food. The goong moun ($13.95) is a can't miss appetizer. A flavourful but light shrimp paste (studded with carrot, chilli, and betel leaf) is wrapped in crispy tofu sheets that's like a spring roll but better. It's tasty on its own or with a splash of the savoury and sour Arjard vinaigrette.

Koh Lipe synthesizes the sour, salty, and umami elements of tom yum into a powder that covers the  chicken wings or peek gai tom yum ($13.95). Given it’s a dry rub, the batter on the wings remains crunchy, a great contrast against the juicy meat.

Their pad Thai with shrimp ($22.95) has the requisite elements needed for success: chewy noodles, enough sauce to cover the noodles without making them soggy, and crispy elements to add texture. I’m glad the chef was restrained in his use of tamarind, so the pad Thai wasn’t too sour, the flavours were perfectly balanced.

My first experience with guey tiew khaek or Islamic noodles ($17.95 for the veggies and tofu version) was not a success. Using the same rice noodles as pad Thai, they’re covered with an overly sweet red curry, which really needed a spicier element to create harmony. If anything, the best part of the dish was the onsen egg, the molten yolk adding a creaminess to the curry noodles.

For something spicy, the prik gaeng moo krob ($23.95) packs a punch and had me downing two glasses of water. A blistering hot curry paste covers fried and then stir-fried pork belly, soaking into the meat. While tasty, given the sauce was already oily, using pork belly as the protein made the dish too heavy, chicken and/or shrimp would be better.

For a flavourful curry, I prefer the khao neow gaeng ($22.95). Slices of chicken and fresh pineapple are covered in a heat-filled yellow curry that's spicy but bearable. The sticky coconut rice sitting in the pineapple gets covered in the sauce but is not saturated and goes wonderfully with the chicken. 

Our table was impressed with the pad gra prao ($18.95), a plate of steamed rice topped with ample amounts of minced chicken flavoured with basil, onion, and chili. All at once spicy, salty, and sweet, it blends into one as the thick yolk oozes out of the fried egg. While the dish has a similar taste to the prik gaeng moo krob, the sweet element helps make this a more palatable dish.

Despite having leftovers, we ordered the khao neow ma muang ($12.95) to share. One bite of the slightly salty mango coconut sticky rice and we were hooked. The sauce was warm and thin, so it coats the sticky rice so well. It’s paired with soft mango slices that adds enough sweetness to remind you it’s a dessert.

The sticky rice was so delicious we added a khao neow tu rian ($12.95) to try the durian version of the dessert. As a child, my first experience with the fruit was terrible - the overpowering aroma and texture made me feel like I was sucking on a moldy gym sock. My second taste at Koh Lipe was much better, the fragrant fruit mellowed by the sauce and rice. Nonetheless, I still prefer the mango version as the fruit is firmer to contrast against the soft rice and adds a tropical taste the durian lacks.

Koh Lipe’s sizeable dining room means there isn’t a long wait for a table even though the restaurant gets busy. Better yet, make a reservation so that you can just breeze into the restaurant, settle in, and dive into one of their flavourful creations. 

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: goong moun, pad gra prao, mango coconut sticky rice
  • Just skip: Islamic noodles and prik gaeng moo krob

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4675 Steeles Ave East

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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