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vegetarian thai + vietnamese

j
jennjen18 Jan 21, 2006 06:14 PM

Hi Chows,

Can anyone recommend an affordable, reasonably priced and most importantly, yummy thai and/or viet place that serves a good portion of vegetarian food items?

Thanks
Jenn

  1. v
    Viola Jan 21, 2006 06:50 PM

    Cafe 668 on Dundas Street (west of Augusta) would be fabulous. It's all vegetarian.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Viola
      p
      prairie_dog Jan 26, 2007 01:07 PM

      I second the motion. We love Cafe 668, although it is a little hole in the wall. Fortunately, they will be in a new space, they say, in April of 2007. My favourite dishes are: #1 (the house salad), #75 (spicy tofu with coconut cream) and #91 (eggplant with black bean sauce). The Vietnamese hot and sour soup is lovely too.

      1. re: prairie_dog
        mrsleny Mar 19, 2007 09:07 PM

        Do you know where they are moving to? I still have yet to try them. I usually go to Bo De Duyen.

    2. v
      Vinnie Vidimangi Jan 21, 2006 09:13 PM

      Thai Plate , 3434 Bathurst 416 256 7250. The chef owners are Thai and I understand reasonably strict Bhuddists. This means that they are good at veg dishes. There is lots on the menu. They like to cook, tell them that you are veg an dthey make something special off the menu for you. No MSG, homemade sauces.

      1. orangewasabi Jan 26, 2007 01:50 PM

        Can I ask which Thai places you're not finding a nice selection of vegetarian items?

        All my preferred thai places (Pi-Tom's, Golden Thai, Ginger) have a wide range of vegetarian options, with plenty of tofu choices if that's your preference. Pi-Tom's and Ginger in specific are very affordable.

        6 Replies
        1. re: orangewasabi
          mrsleny Mar 19, 2007 09:12 PM

          Some Thai places use fish sauce even in their vegetarian dishes. I've encountered this with Chinese restaurants using oyster sauce in their "vegetarian" dishes. This is from the Toronto Vegetarian Association website:

          The Friendly Thai – L
          500 Queen St. W. (e. of Bathurst), 416-366-1221
          Warning: Allison reports that the owners of The Friendly Thai "do not believe fish to be non-vegetarian" and have thus chosen to label as "vegetarian" several dishes which do indeed contain fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc. "Just so this note is not entirely negative, we were informed that the tofu satay with peanut sauce is vegan and there is also a coconut milk stir fry with cashews that can be made vegan upon request. Anything with a pre-prepared sauce, such as any of the curries and some of the pad thais, we were told, contains a fish sauce base even if labeled vegetarian on the menu and cannot be altered."

          1. re: mrsleny
            vorpal Mar 20, 2007 05:15 AM

            I can understand how that might indeed be unappealing if one is a vegetarian, but fish sauce is *the* key ingredient in Thai cooking. Real Thai cooking instruction will tell you, for example, if in doubt, add more fish sauce. Without it, Thai food isn't really Thai food. A curry loses a huge level of complexity without it; I can immediately tell if a curry contains fish sauce or not, and in the right levels, and IMO, it does a lot more than provide salt and you may as well not eat a Thai curry if your diet restricts you from it.

            Incidentally, if you are strict vegetarian, you CANNOT eat any Thai curry paste with any guarantee of safety save, I believe, Mussaman. Mussaman curries might be able to escape requiring fish sauce, but are typically heavy in meat anyways (I have trouble imagining this one without its hallmark beef, as it is Thai Muslim in nature and they eat significant quantities of it). Red and green curry pastes pretty much ALWAYS contain shrimp paste in them (as they should; it's a key ingredient). Some yellow curry pastes contain high levels of fish, particularly if they are sour (these should be only used for seafood curries, but I've found that they've sometimes been used as replacements for standard yellow curry pastes), and along with panaeng, may also have shrimp paste in them as well, although unlike red and green, this is not guaranteed or necessary.

            Oyster sauce is much less commonly used, but the dishes that typically have it generally require it. There are mushroom vegetarian versions which can be substituted, and while their taste is significantly different, I would say that they're largely acceptable.

            I think most Thai restaurants will accommodate you if you tell them that you cannot eat fish sauce; however, this is definitely no guarantee of having a vegetarian meal if you're opting for curries. Most people don't know this, but I thought I should bring it to everyone's attention.

            1. re: vorpal
              j
              julesrules Mar 20, 2007 05:57 AM

              I am omnivorous but wanted to try Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen - most items were in fact delicious, but I couldn't figure out what was missing from the Pad Thai. Well duh, fish sauce! When I make my own pad thai I indeed follow the "if in doubt add more fish sauce" rule so why would I expect a veg version to work for me.... Love the fish sauce.

              But for veggies, and dishes that don't require fish sauce, I do recommend Jean's Vegetarian on the Danforth. A lot of fake meat which again as an omni I don't enjoy, but the mango salad (even without fish sauce), greens and eggplant were all great.

              1. re: julesrules
                vorpal Mar 20, 2007 07:02 AM

                *grins*... I've never tried veg pad thai, but the sauce (that I personally find the tastiest) is essentially tamarind, lime juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce, and the fish sauce definitely isn't in small quantities!

                I find one of the problems with veg Thai food - apart from the obvious fact that much of it isn't veg - is that they tend to use tofu in everything. That's fine if you love tofu, and I don't mind it in small doses, but I'd really prefer that they put more emphasis on the vegetables themselves. A nice red curry with baby corn, sugar snap peas, snake beans, bamboo, and a good selection of peppers is delicious (although *grins* I still assert that you *need* the shrimp paste and the fish sauce).

                I like an occasional veg fix even though I'm omnivorous too, so thanks for the recommendation! I may check them out.

              2. re: vorpal
                f
                fleisch Sep 7, 2007 12:10 PM

                This is basically the problem I've recently come across/realized.
                I will eat fish, but not shellfish.
                For a while I didn't know about shrimp paste and while fish sauce COULD be okay, there's no way to know for sure. Throw in the oyster sauce and there's very little left on the typical Thai menu.
                And I so love Salad King (where there are a few okay things still on the menu...)

                1. re: fleisch
                  vorpal Sep 7, 2007 02:09 PM

                  Is it an allergy or is it just that you don't like shellfish? I don't generally care for anything that comes out of water (fish, shellfish, and seaweed) and avoid them for the most part, but I find that the typical Thai ingredients we're discussing taste nothing like their sea-based components, and so I'm definitely agreeable to eat them.

          2. m
            Mikejor Mar 19, 2007 04:24 PM

            We are also big fans of Cafe 668. Also try King's Cafe at 192 Augusta in Kensington. It is also vegetarian....more Chinese then Thai or Vietnamese but it is excellent and you can buy their soy/tofu based products in the back of the restaurant.

            1. i
              indianchik Mar 20, 2007 10:59 AM

              the best veg thai would be THAI BAMBOO at keele and steeles. they have the BEST veg pad thai. no fish sauce

              1. v
                vodka Sep 5, 2007 11:33 PM

                While it's definitely not the best, Spring Rolls has a separate vegan menu. (Their veg spring rolls aren't veg. Tragic.) The three newer Gingers (Church, Parliament and Annex) have their vegan options clearly noted on their paper takeout menus, (not so much the big ones on the wall.) Neither of these places are fabulous but there's certainly something to be said for peace of mind.

                2 Replies
                1. re: vodka
                  e
                  erly Sep 6, 2007 10:15 AM

                  cafe 668 passes Kosher standards.
                  This means that it is pure vegetarian, down to the sauces and condiments.
                  Someone commented that they have just moved or, are moving, so I would call first.
                  We are not vegetarians, but just love the food.

                  1. re: erly
                    n
                    n10sity Sep 6, 2007 10:20 AM

                    Cafe 668 is now open on Dundas just west of Manning. Haven't been to the new location but pass by it on my way home from work.

                    Looks pretty swanky - wonder if the prices have changed.... hope the food hasn't...

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