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Best downtown Thai?

I'm escaping the burbs this week and am craving REAL Thai food (no goopy curries from a can need apply). Where is the best, most authentic Thai in downtown TO? We'll be right at Yonge and College, so anything central will do.

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  1. One block north of Dundas and Yonge, there lies Salad King which offers a variety of Thai dishes in a hip but noisy, cafeteria dining environment. However, lesser known is the dining room they have upstairs that goes under the name Linda Restaurant (or something like that). The menu is pricier, the dining room is darker and quieter. I think that the food is more authentic than the fast food thai they offer downstairs. I haven't tried it yet, though I've been meaning to. Let me know how it goes if you do try it.

    1. Lindas is the only restaurant in Toronto, that I am aware of , that serves decent Thai food.
      I have tried most of the other well known Thai restaurants, and have never had the desire to return to any of them.

      1. Salad King is horrible; please do not go there. There's nothing authentic about their dishes and while the occasional offering might be tasty, the majority of the dishes are completely unbalanced and it is an insult to Thai food to call them Thai: case in point, their green curry is a sloppy mess that's either flavourless or so bursting with chillies that it's overwhelmed by spiciness. There is none of the subtleness that comes with a real, delightful green curry paste. If you're looking for good curry, you will be hideously disappointed with this place.

        The service is also abysmal. Your dishes are thrust upon you when they are ready, appetizers often arriving well after the entrees, and it's difficult to get another glass of water. There is nothing charming about the cafeteria style, either, unless you find it either fun or intimate to sit across from your dinner guest while competing for elbow room with strangers who can hear every word of your conversation.

        I haven't been to Linda, so I can't comment, but after three outings to Salad King, I have vowed never to return.

        Honestly, without trying to sound elitist, there is no such thing as good and authentic Thai food in Toronto. I have visited all the standard recommended haunts - Joy Thai, Salad King, Sasi Thai, etc. - and have consistently been very disappointed. I'm not sure why this is the case, when the two other major cities I lived in - Ottawa and Washington, DC - both had several superb Thai offerings.

        Young Thailand - apart from a period that they let their quality slip abysmally - has always been delightful and served as the restaurant that got me addicted to Thai food. Unfortunately, they've moved away from the downtown core, so they probably won't fit the bill for you despite the fact that they're still fairly easy to get to (Dundas W Station, take the 40 north for three minutes). The only other restaurant I can recommend is Thai Paradise on Baldwin, and while it's far from ideal, it has some very tasty offerings (particularly their spring rolls, both hot and cold) and it's worth the money. They only have musamman style curries, so don't go expecting red, green, or panaeng.

        I know a lot of people rave about Sasi Thai on Jarvis at Gerrard. When I went, the appetizer platter elicited mixed comments from my partner and I. The lychee chicken curry was splendid and I highly recommend it. Everything else was a mess: overcooked, not properly flavoured, etc. Someone needs to tell these people that despite the fact that Pad Phrik Khing contains the Thai word for "ginger" in it, the name is somewhat ironic in that the presence of ginger is intended to be so subtle as to scarcely be noticeable. The yellow bird was tough and chewy and devoid of any taste. The portion size for the fried bananas was an embarrassment to the restaurant: a half banana with a scoop of ice cream does not satisfy my dessert craving.

        I've heard very good things about Bangkok Garden, but I cannot justify paying their prices for food that I can make at home, probably just as well if not better, for a fraction of the price.

        Instead, I would highly recommend you try Matahari Grill (http://www.mataharigrill.com) on Baldwin for Malaysian food. Consistently delicious and worth the cost. You'll likely need a reservation, though. If you insist on Thai food and don't mind spending, try Bangkok Garden (http://www.bangkokgarden.ca) and let us know how it is so I can decide whether or not the price justifies the laziness of occasionally not preparing my own Thai food at home. Otherwise, go to Sasi Thai, try their lychee chicken curry, and avoid their Pad Phrik Khing and yellow bird and hopefully the other dishes you pick will be amongst their successes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vorpal

          Absolutely agree with Vorpal on Salad King; I really couldn't have said it better. I loved it the first time around (guess I didn't know any better), but the food is dismal and service is just plain rude and rushed. Trying to get into those tiny benches just kills my back!
          My husband absolutely refuses to go there anymore.

          I'll post on the Real Thailand as I have a reservation for Mother's Day.

        2. Linda is head and shoulders above the rest. And only 10 minutes walk (or less) from Yonge & College.
          My nephew (a chef) takes both his friends and other chefs there. It's his favourite restaurant in Toronto.

          1. My favourite is Thai Princess on King Street just east of Spadina. The Pad Thai is the best I have had outside of Thailand. They don't ruin the dish with ketchup (yuck!). The service is not the most welcoming, but the food is very good.

            1. One of my favourite thai places in the city is Pi Tom's -- it's one set of lights north of College, just a few steps east of Yonge - on Alexander St.

              I recommend the basil duck, spicy pork, spicy squid, basil rice, pad won sen, thai iced tea, pumpkin soup, coconut chicken soup, fish cakes, and mango shake in particular.


              1 Reply
              1. re: orangewasabi

                I have to second Pi-Tom's. I always get the pad won sen and it is delicious. The pumkin soup is to die for and I actually don't like pumkin at all.

                I read on their webiste or in an email they send out that they will do pad-thai normally the 'North American' way, as this is what most people expect, but they would be more then happy to make it the authentic thai way if you just ask. I think next time I go I may have to try the authentic pad-thai.

                Oh and I myself can't stand Salad King. I find it very lacking in flavour and much to cafeteria for me.

              2. I guess St.Clair W is technically midtown instead of downtown, but just thought I'd mention Vanipha Lanna. It's located at St.Clair W near Oakwood, so it's still fairly central. I believe the family running it is Laotian. http://www.vanipha.ca/

                1. Agree on Linda. A pleasant dining room, competent service, and some great Thai (as authentic as one could get). Unfortunately Thai food seems to have become synonymous for cheap (in terms of price and quality) in Toronto and Linda is the exception.

                  Salad King is more like fast food with seating so take that as it is. It's certainly serviceable for a quick lunch once in awhile though.

                  1. I agree with Thai Princess on King.
                    Great seafood curry.

                    1. Linda is fantastic. Honestly, the level of service we received was on par with restaurants that cost 4 times as much (cutlery replaced, wine/water refilled, tableside deboning of whole fish, etc.), the room is beautiful, and the food often very different from what is served downstairs - I would say it ventures into fusion territory, especially with the nightly specials. One of the most eye-opening restaurant experiences I've had since I moved here four years ago - a four-course table d'hote for $30, including a lovely duck breast app and a delicious chili-dusted cornish hen main, are you kidding me??? Amazing value.

                      I've spend tons of time in Thailand and Linda's take on the classics is solid, although you can find better phad thai in the city I think. But venture into the nightly creations, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

                      1. I don't even eat pad thai in Thailand.
                        Not everyone orders noodle dishes at a Chinese restaurant,
                        I think that therein lies the problem.
                        It is very much like the original Chinese restaurants in Toronto and the Chop Suey.
                        Food became more authentic with the wave of Chinese immigrants.
                        Possibly there are simply not enough Thais in Toronto to warrent authentic Thai food.
                        And Estufarian if you read this perhaps your nephew can convince Linda to put an authentic fish maw soup with quail egg on her menu.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: erly

                          I recall mentioning to Linda a great dish I'd had in Thailand. She said she'd add it if she could get the ingredients (Asian Pumpkin - different from North American) - but no quality ingredients available here.
                          So just ask - and maybe it will happen!

                        2. No, I don't usually eat phad thai in Thailand either. But I had a very nice basil-chili squid at Linda that was very much like the ubiquitous dish down in the south of Thailand.

                          1. Just Thai on Church Street has the best pad thai curry chicken dish in the city

                            1. Hop on the Bay bus and get off at Avenue Road at Davenport....On the NW corner next to the Variety store is a 'local' (for me) Thai place called "BUO THAI"....Very good,very reasonable and very clean. They are even amenable to closing off the back end of the restaurant for a Birthday party with a Thai buffet at a reasonable cost. The Owners are a young husband and wife team who run a good restaurant that makes a 'guest/customer'
                              feel comfortable and welcome. No small feet for this particular area of Toronto!

                              1. Went to Bangkok Garden - posted a separate review. Not cheap, but a really good experience all around.

                                1. i have travelled in thailand and find toronto's thai food good enough so i don't know what people are talking about..

                                  i like the real thailand on bloor, near spadina. i also like thai basil on bloor in the annex. flip, toss and thai kitchen has some good dishes too, though it's chinese-run (avoid their pad thai though!).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: helenhelen

                                    Real Thailand is quite good and I second the recommendation, although their menu is essentially a complete rip off of Young Thailand; compare and you'll see all the dishes are the same, and given that Wandee Young's take on Cashew Nut Chicken is quite unique, it's indicative of culinary plagiarism.

                                    Thai Basil uses MSG, which is not indicative of good Thai food. Just thought I'd bring this up since Thai food is generally MSG safe, so people might want to beware.

                                  2. Another vote for Young Thailand. Real Thailand at Spadina and Bloor is good too.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: littlegreenpea

                                      Actually that's the first vote for Young Thailand. Not too surprising as it's been closed for a while now.