Showing posts with label pad thai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pad thai. 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
 Website: https://kohlipe.ca/


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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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Chiang Rai Thai Kitchen (Toronto)


Chiang Rai is a jovial restaurant with YouTube DJ beats playing and a stream of people grabbing takeout orders. The bright and cheerful dining room emits an energy, despite it only being half full on a Friday.

You'll find flavour in their famous pad Thai with shrimp ($23). Sour, savoury, and slightly sweet notes flood my mouth on the first bite, especially a strong tamarind element. It complimented the chewy noodles, which were stir fried to perfection and resisted sogginess despite being slathered in sauce. The finely chopped roasted peanuts also helped to counteract the wetness of the dish.

I would skip the tom yum fried rice with vegetable and tofu ($18) as it's also very tangy and two sour dishes were too much for one meal. Indeed, tom yum's recipe has lemongrass and lime, but these tart elements soaked into the rice it was powerful. Still, I enjoyed all the herbs: galangal (a peppery ginger), basil, and kaffir lime leaves, which added a freshness to the starch. The fried rice was just too wet - Chiang Rai likely uses fresh rather than day old rice – to the point that it tasted better as leftovers.

If you’re a fan of chicken devil, the crispy chicken chilli sauce stir fry ($19) is a stellar version of the dish. I love the big nuggets of battered chicken that’s very lightly covered with the spicy, savoury, and sweet sauce so they remain crunchy. Just get to the chicken quickly as there’s not a lot of pieces amongst the vegetables.

Do not take out your food... Chiang Rai takes the time to beautifully present dishes. Each adorned with deep fried rice noodle sticks, beet ribbons, a stalk of green onion, and an orange slice. And while the décor makes for a great presentation, on subsequent visits I’ll ask for dishes plain as it's also wasteful to discard the garnishes. By dining in you'll also benefit from Chiang Rai's cheerful environment. It won’t necessarily feel like you’re in Thailand, but still funner than sitting around at home. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2070 Avenue Road


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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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Jatujak Thai Cuisine (Toronto)


Jatujak Thai Cuisine is quickly becoming a chain of restaurants serving cheap-and-cheerful Thai food in the Toronto suburbs. After seeing so many of their dishes on Instagram and finding positive Google/Yelp reviews to back up the pretty pics, I decided to head north to their outpost located on Steeles a stone’s throw from Scarborough. From the outside, the storefront looks like any other plaza establishment, but once you enter, the dining room is surprisingly spacious and modern.  

Order a lunch special and they’ll arrive in no time – sometimes a worrying sign of premade food that just sits around and is assembled to order. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with the pad Thai ($8.95). The heap of brown noodles studded with chicken, onions, and bean sprouts didn’t look like much, but once I had a forkful the seemingly too-wet noodles was the perfect consistency and the sweet flavours nicely balanced by the sour and savoury elements. While I couldn’t smell much wok hay when the dish was presented, the pad Thai did have a mellow smoky element that briefly peaks out while being consumed.

I’d skip the chicken green curry ($8.95), it’s run-of-the-mill and a tad sweet for my taste for something that has two chilies listed beside it on the menu. Truth be told, I was probably still a little salty from hearing that the steamed fish curry wasn’t available, something I really had my heart set on.

Jatujak’s beef khao soi ($15.95) could also use a kick of heat to really push the bowl to the next level. Still, it was a tasty dish with the creamy curry broth incorporating a hint of citrus. The combination of silky egg noodles with crispy ones were also on-point with equal amounts of both textures. There were also tons of brisket in the bowl, so this is a great choice for those who really want their protein.

Until my work-from-home schedule ends, and I re-join the downtown rat race, I’m glad to have found Jatujak who will satisfy my Thai cravings until I can taste Chef Nuit’s creations again. I guess their affordable price points, large portions, and ease of getting a table also doesn’t hurt either. If only they had the steamed fish curry – one day, you will get into my belly.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5651 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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CLOSED: Asian District (Dubai)


I will forever be grateful to Asian District for saving our New Year’s Eve celebration in Dubai. To make a long story short, because of the ineptitude of a Platinum List event coordinator, we found ourselves being told on the night of - at 9pm (!) - that the event was cancelled. Imagine … standing in your New Year’s best, in a foreign country, and being told that you need to find something else. Certainly, it’s not the end of the world, but surely ruins a buzz.


After a few frantic calls, Asian District saved the day and was able to provide us with an outdoor table so we can celebrate the night and watch the fireworks display. Better yet, they didn’t even raise their prices above the typical AED395 a person for the all-you-can-eat and unlimited house drinks deal. Indeed, it turned into an indulgent evening of food and drink.

Asian District offers an AYCE menu where the dishes are brought to your table. For those who don’t want to consume to the max there is an a-la-carte option as well (prices included in this post for information). It’s an extensive menu covering Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine so getting through the booklet can be a time consuming affair. So, let me help you with some of the top dishes of the night:

You can’t go wrong with the chicken green curry (AED62). It’s a safe choice and ideal for those who want that flavourful coconut sauce without too much heat.


Their dynamite roll (AED38) isn’t a typical maki filled with a tempura shrimp. Instead, it’s like an elevated spicy salmon that made us want another bite.


The wasabi prawns (ADE72) was a decent dish, plump deep fried battered shrimp tossed in a light wasabi mayo, I just wish I had them hotter – the perils of eating outdoors. Even the salt and pepper squid (AED56) was good, if you don’t mind that the batter is a bit too thick.


Other dishes could have been done better. The skin on the Peking duck (AED88 for a quarter) was so soggy that it tasted like you’re having reheated roast duck in the microwave.  At least their garnishes and wrapper were made thin enough.


The chicken skewers (AED56) needed more satay; there was very little flavours other than the peanut sauce.

While the pad Thai’s (AED56) flavours was okay – a nice balance of sweet and sour – the noodles stuck together in a clump and there seemed to be something missing from the dish, it could have been a lack of fish sauce as there wasn’t that lovely umami essence.


If you’re going to have pho, I’d skip the protein and just go vegetarian as the beef in the beef pho (AED46) was way too thick. The broth is a cross between the traditional bone broth and the soy sauce laced beef noodle variety. While not terrible, it’s just not what you’re expecting when you have a spoon of soup.


In general, I found Asian District relies too much on soy sauce. The hot and sour soup (AED32) incorporated so much of the condiment that it wasn’t edible.


Given we visited on New Year’s Eve, it’s difficult to gauge their service levels. That evening, it was slow and they forgot a dish (the plain stir fried bok choy I was craving), but the restaurant was completely packed. And we were disappointed that the desserts never arrived, so we couldn’t taste the mango sticky rice the other tables were raving about. Nonetheless, their staff was friendly and they were on point with bringing out the drinks.

At the very least, they saved the night by feeding us a filling meal, plied us with tons of alcohol, and provided an amazing vantage point for fireworks. Thank you Asian District for a wonderful New Year’s Eve.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah - Al Mirziban
 

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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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  • Mr. Miyagi



CLOSED: Kub Khao Thai Eatery for lunch (Toronto)


It’s surprising how many people know about Kub Khao Thai Eatery in spite of its location hidden behind a gas station. It’s the original place, in Scarborough, to get authentic Thai food.

Their quick lunch specials, served from 11am to 4pm (including weekends), offers great value with six mains accompanied with crispy wontons and a choice of tom yum soup or mango salad. The crispy wontons are filled with a pork and arrives with a sweet chili sauce. Little two bite nuggets that are great for tiding you over until the mains arrive.


The tom yum is fairly large and in the traditional spicy and sour broth are tons of fresh Shanghai bok choy and napa cabbage so you’re eating a full serving of vegetables right at the start. Kub Khao certainly doesn’t skimp on fresh produce – their mango salad has the customary julienned bell pepper and red onion, but is further enhanced with crunchy carrots and refreshing mint and coriander.

A popular order is their pad Thai chicken ($9.95), the rice noodles getting plenty of wok hay and tossed with bean sprouts, tofu, scrambled egg, and chives in a tamarind sauce that has a nicely balanced sourness. I love the finely ground peanuts, which melds into the noodles rather than being large pieces you need to chew through.


The pad karee shrimp ($11.95) is fiery red. Dig to the bottom of the bowl and you’ll get the little pieces of chili to match – thankfully, the coconut milk calms down the heat. While there aren’t tons of shrimp, there is plenty of flavourful curry to spoon over steamed rice. I just wished there were more vegetables in the dish.  


Four “street lunch” options aren’t accompanied by the wonton and starters but is a full-sized main. The chicken noodle curry’s ($11.95) broth was a khao soi and green curry love child. The bowl arrives brimming with ingredients including bell peppers, bean sprouts, eggplant, green beans, bamboo shoot, and onion, a refreshing bite against the rich spicy soup. A bit of pickled cabbage adds an unexpected tanginess and along with all the protein (chicken and a hard-boiled egg) makes a filling lunch.


If there was a best service station restaurant award, in my books, Kub Khao is the winner.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3561 Sheppard Avenue East


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Sala Modern Thai (Toronto)


With the word Modern in their name, Sala Modern Thai had me wondering what would be the evolutionary steps in their dishes. Perhaps they’d replace the traditional rice noodles in pad Thai with fresh made pasta? Maybe the menu would incorporate some sort of fusion concept mixing Thai cuisine with other countries?

Turns out, neither seemed true; their dishes were the staples gracing the Toronto Thai restaurant menus for years. In fact, if anything, they even incorporated further elements of traditional Thai touches like with their Bangkok pad Thai.

When my husband did an ex-pat stint in China, one of his favourite restaurants was owned by a Thai couple who made the “best pad Thai”, in his opinion. He fondly remembered the thin omelette that encapsulated the noodles, a dish he never found in Toronto until seeing a picture of Sala Modern Thai – really the sole catalyst for our visit.


The chicken version ($13) arrives covered in a thin crepe that’s more flour than egg; upon breaking through you’re greeted with a pad Thai made from chewy vermicelli noodles (as opposed to the typical thin rice noodles) and a sweet and sour sauce that’s one of the best I’ve heard had – it’s not overwhelming sweet or sour and there’s no tell-tale hint of red indicating ketchup was used in lieu of tamarind.


True to their name, the fresh rolls ($6) are made-to-order as the rice paper is soft, chewy, and lightly warmed. With a simple vegetable and tofu stuffing, you get the contrasting textures of crunchy and soft ingredients, with the Thai basil adding a refreshing essence. On the side, a sweet chili tamarind dipping sauce and a small salad of lettuce tossed in, of all things, ranch dressing.


Although I’d never volunteer to try suicide wings, I’m also not a wuss when it comes to chili heat. Hence, we opted for the “spicy” version (one step down from “Thai spicy”) of the kuaytiaw tom yum with chicken ($11.50). Wow, what a humbling experience! There was such a kick to the tom yum broth, even with the rice noodles, that every second bite had me reaching for a cooling drink.


The broth is rich and thick, filled with lemon grass and a shrimp flavours (aside from all the chili). I do wish they used a bigger bowl as ours was so packed with noodles that the soup became more of a sauce than something you can spoon and actually drink.

If you’re going to try anything spicy, do yourself a favour and order one of their iced teas. The Thai matcha iced green tea ($5) is the traditional milk-based tea with a strong matcha essence added to make it less sweet and milky. As an aside, Sala needs to do a better job at ensuring their pricing matches up, this one item was listed differently on three places: menu at restaurant ($4), actual charge on bill ($5), and menu on their website ($6).

Sala Modern Thai’s beef khao soi ($13) is fantastic. Normally, the coconut milk mixed into the yellow curry broth is a tad strong for me, at Sala it’s balanced so the broth stays savoury while still feeling thick and rich. The soup sticks wonderfully to all the crevices of the flat egg noodles and the crispy noodles add a bit of crunch against the otherwise soft dish. Only two things could be improved with the khao soi: firstly, the beef was overcooked and tasteless (tofu may be a better protein); and the so called “soft” boiled egg arrived hard boiled and dry.


So what exactly is modern Thai? Interested, I turned to the internet and found a Paste Bangkok post, where Chef Jason Bailey explains that modern Thai is not only about using non-traditional ingredients but also incorporating cooking equipment that differs from the traditional coals and wok (such as an oven or slow cooker). The dishes must also have intense flavours where you really get a punch of hot, sour, sweet, savoury, or bitterness. So as it turns out, maybe all along, I’ve already been eating modern Thai.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1262 Danforth Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Sala Modern Thai Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sukhothai (Ottawa)


According to Wikipedia, Sukhothai was once a thriving Kingdom in central Thailand and translates to "dawn of happiness".  There’s something wishful about using that name for a restaurant: hoping to bring happiness to all your customers. By no means am I implying this is why the Ottawa owners chose this name, it’s simply my own romantic notion.

Tomato and red spices are left out of the restaurant’s tom yum goong ($5.50) so the broth remains clear … rather deceiving … until you take a sip. Instantly, the spicy, sour, salty and even mildly sweet flavours flood the mouth – how is such an innocent looking soup so powerful? Even without the red spices the soup has a nice heat level and lemongrass essence. As a warning, it’s a tad salty so this goes best with rice.


Green curries are one of my favourite Thai dishes and Sukhothai’s doesn’t disappoint. The gang keaw warn ($16.95) has great rich flavours and the sauce light enough to spoon liberally over rice. The mixture of crunchy vegetables (bell pepper, carrot, bamboo shoot and baby corn) kept it fresh and the drizzle of extra coconut milk on top an additional creaminess. I’d caution against ordering the beef as it was a tad chewy, I still enjoy this dish best with chicken, shrimp or simply in its vegetarian form.


If you can’t handle spicy curries, the gang khua sap pa rod ($18.95) is a safer alternative. Coconut milk, tomatoes and curry are combined with shrimp and chunks of pineapple. The sweetness from the fruit mellows everything, making the dish a mild approachable curry. The shrimp's texture is different: not the crunchy consistency found in other dishes; something about the acid makes it meaty and tender but not rubbery.


If you thinking the gai pad med ma muang ($15.95) is like kung pao chicken, then you’re correct. This Thai dish is said to be derived from the popular Sichuan version, except substituting the creamier cashew for peanuts and incorporating a stronger heat. Overall, the cashew chicken has a decent spiciness but not overwhelming.  


During the warmer months, a lighter cold dish such as the yum-pla ($17.95) is ideal. Despite the menu noting this Thai salad is generally served as a hors d’oeurve, it’s so substantial that you should consider it a main. A large piece of grilled trout is topped with green mango salad and cashews for crunch.  


Sukhothai’s pad Thai ($15.95) was the first I’ve had that grinds their peanuts into fine pieces so you experience its texture without too much crunch. Overall, a good rendition of the popular dish: the stir-fried rice noodles were springy and well covered in spices without becoming too wet; the chicken and shrimp not over cooked; and the bean sprouts and red cabbage served on the side so you can customize the amount of crunchy raw vegetables.


To end, we were treated with a dessert typically only served on special occasions. The thong ek, which translates to “gold prime”, is meant to bring wealth and advancement with a person’s career.  The dessert is generally carved into a flower shape; at Sukhothai, they’re simplified into a leaf beautifully adorned with a piece of gold foil. Made with sugar, coconut milk reduction and egg yolk, the thong ek reminds me of Chinese New Year cake, except softer and stickier.


Sukhothai, being the last restaurant we went to that day, was a great ending. Not exactly the “dawn of happiness”, but I certainly departed in good spirits having enjoyed a lovely indulgent meal with a group of great people.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Ottawa, Canada
 Address: 134 Robertson Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Sukhothai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato