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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.