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Why Not Thai...

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So the search for delicious Thai in Toronto continues...

Last night we tried Bangkok Gardens on Elm... 2 word review: Don't Go. The Soups tasted like dishwater. They don't serve Thai Ice Tea. I had to crush the dried chilies with my fingers at the table to add heat. And the Main Courses were tooth achingly sweet.

It has been almost a year and I haven't found one Thai restaurant worth eating at twice.

Did Toronto totally miss the Thai bandwagon?

A few places are still on the list (before I totally give up):
Vanipha Lanna / Ban Vanipha
Linda
Pi-Tom

Has anyone found a great Thai spot in Toronto?
(Hole in the walls joints are fine as long as the food is authentic)

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  1. No, but you might have. Ban Vanipha closed five years ago.

    1. I have not yet tried the four you mentioned, but I wouldn't go to Linda for real Thai food. The menu listed online is not particularly authentic. They may serve good food, but I would not deign to call it Thai.

      Honestly, I've given up trying to find good Thai food in Toronto. I'm convinced that it's largely a futile endeavour, given that I've eaten at so many different restaurants and virtually always been disappointed. You can make fantastic Thai food at home for a fraction the cost; what's the point in eating it out?

      The only Thai restaurants I will still go to are Young Thailand (which is quite good, pretty authentic, and of which I have fond memories as it served as my introduction to Thai food) and Thai Paradise... and the latter only out of convenience (it's close to campus and ridiculously cheap, and I need something when working late in the lab).

      Toronto is a Thai food wasteland, as far as I'm concerned. Most of the restaurants are all style and no substance. I don't know when Thai food became synonymous with trendiness, but that seems to be the route things have gone. I think that Toronto has developed a certain very low expectation of Thai food and that is what the restaurants generally serve. Why the standards for Thai food became this North Americanized mess, I don't know.

      Ottawa has some *amazing* Thai restaurants, as does Washington, DC. There is no excuse for no parallels in Toronto, given that I don't believe Ottawa or DC have a higher Thai population.

      6 Replies
      1. re: vorpal

        I would give Lindas a try.
        It is a small menu, it isn't perfect, but is the closest I have ever found in Torontoto the upscale restaurants in Thailand.
        The Thai's are into fusion as well, and my best meal in Thailand this year was a Aussie-Thai restaurant Cy'an
        Lindas modifies the heat, but will make the food as fiery as you request.
        What we are really lacking, are the wonderful Thai restaurants that specialize in seafood...
        There is no reason for this, as Toronto has an abundance of Seafood, and the Chinese have certainly replicated their seafood restaurants in the GTA.

        1. re: vorpal

          Could you give your best bets for Thai in Ottawa?

          1. re: KitchenVoodoo

            Absolutely - I'd be happy to! The very best, IMO, is Sweet Basil on Bank Street at Huron (NE corner). Very authentic and delicious Thai. They have a website, which appears to be having problems at the moment:

            http://www.thaitaste.ca/sb/index.html

            Sweet Basil has hands down the most amazing panaeng beef that one could ever dream of putting into one's mouth. Also, try out the pad ki mow and the bamee pad. I'm getting ravenous just thinking of them. The portions are fairly small and the price high but the quality is unbelievable. It may not be traditional Thai, but their mango-pistachio ice cream with assorted coulis is a perfect way to tone down the spiciness and end the meal.

            Their sister restaurant, Anna, is also very, very good. Same deal with the website:

            http://www.thaitaste.ca/anna/index.html

            Anna is less traditional and more tailored to the individual rather than to sharing plates, although still quite authentic and equally tasty. If you're daring, try their jungle curry. It is both a painful and beautiful experience. (So spicy but so good!

            )

            Green Papaya on Kent Street (I can't remember exactly where) is definitely worth checking out, too. They were owned by the same people as Sweet Basil and Anna but went their separate way and very much grew into their own. Excellent, excellent food.

            The final restaurant I'd recommend is Royal Thai in the Byward Market on Dalhousie. They are not outrageously authentic (although far moreso than any restaurant in Toronto), and their dishes aren't as subtle and delicate as the three aforementioned places, but their portion size is large and their entrees are hearty and delicious. They are also very popular and a favourite of Jean Chretien, who I encountered there once when he was still PM on a slow night. Royal Thai has, in my mind, hands down THE best vegetarian spring rolls in human existence, with a to-die-for dipping sauce (sweet with hints of spiciness and a touch of citrus). Their panaeng is also very good, and their pad ki mow is stupendous. Also don't miss their lemongrass beef or chicken. I spent days trying to emulate this dish in my own kitchen so that I could enjoy it regularly now that I live in Toronto.

            Hopefully these suggestions will be helpful! If you try any of them, I would love to know how you liked them. Thai food done right is one of my biggest joys in life, and I love to share that experience with people.

            1. re: vorpal

              Many thanks VORPAL for the comprehensive details - I hope to be in Ottawa soon and will def. go with your recommendations. My very first Thai meal was in Boston, and I never found its equal in Toronto.

              1. re: vorpal

                Ever get to try Nokham Thai in Ottawa Vorpal? During my years in the capital, I heard many good things about the place yet the one time I went it was full. Heard many good reviews about the place.

                I have been to Royal Thai a few times as well, consistent thai food and the portion were a good size too.

                1. re: deabot

                  I'm not sure that Nokham Thai was there when I lived in Ottawa (four years ago). Whereabouts is it? I definitely haven't been, but I've heard some good things about it myself.

                  Glad to hear that you enjoyed Royal Thai! It was the first Thai restaurant I started frequenting in Ottawa and to which I got utterly addicted!

          2. I v much like pi-tom's - try the Alexander st location.
            I recommend the pumpkin soup and basil duck, in specific

            8 Replies
            1. re: orangewasabi

              Vorpal, could you possibly post some recipes for some common thai dishes? I would love to try making it at home, and most of the recipes I find are very dull.

              1. re: sleepygirl

                Hi sleepygirl. I'd love to share some recipes! Just before I do that: what level of complexity are you looking for? Would you prefer something fairly easy or something quite complex but more rewarding? A mix of both? Let me know!

                1. re: vorpal

                  Pardon the interruption, but just a reminder to please post recipes on the Home Cooking board:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/boards/31

                  You are welcome to post a "heads up" with the link to your post here, of course.

                  Thanks.

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    Will do. Thanks - I'm still fairly new to this site and not fully aware of all the etiquette and rules.

                    1. re: vorpal

                      have you tried "Flip Toss Thai" on Harbord? Closest thing I've found to Thai spiceyness.

                      1. re: alisonb

                        Yes, I have, and while I enjoy their panaeng, they're not very authentic and much more North American / Chinese / Thai inspired food than actual Thai food. I would hesitate to recommend them to anyone who was seeking more than a quick, cheap bite to eat: their dishes, taken for what they are, are hit or miss. They're definitely better than Salad King (the owner, I believe of Flip Toss and Thai was previously head chef over there and I believe took the best of SK with her), but their food is very much in the same vein.

                        1. re: vorpal

                          i know three thai places around my place, Thai Bistro (not fancy, home style cooking) @ yonge and finch, Royal Orchard Thai @ Royal orchard and yonge (haven't been for a long time, but it was pretty decent, i remembered), another one is called Coco Thai Urban Cuisine on Bayview (never tried, but had heard pretty good reviews), anyone tried any of these 3 lately?

                        2. re: alisonb

                          Go to Thai Plate on 3434 Bathurst St and ask them to cook as they cook for themselves. Better yet ask them if you could join as a customer their after closing meal.
                          VVM