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New Thai Restaurant

Okay, I realize that I am treading into treacherous territory here - which I guess is why I've waited a week before sharing this information. Please read this with the understanding that I am in no way qualified to comment on the authenticity of Thai food. This post is strictly related to my experience of a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Last Saturday, I was invited to a pre-opening dinner at the restaurant that has opened (or is about to open) on the southeast corner of Church and Lombard, the former location of a Young Thailand. I think it's called Ivory Thailand, but I went in the back door, so don't quote me on that. The space has been under renovation for what seems like forever, because apparently after it was purchased they discovered that the kitchen and ventilation systems required not just cleaning, but complete replacement. According to residents in the building, they have spent over $750,000 renovating, redecorating, etc., including shipping all of the furniture and decor from Thailand. The owner came by our table to chat, and said that she had also brought the kitchen staff with her from Thailand, but she may have been kidding, I have no idea.

So, the food...in case I haven't stressed it enough, I am no expert...but it was the best Thai meal that I have had in my limited experience. What was remarkable about it to me was that every mouthful was an explosion of flavour, of many flavours, but delicate at the same time. None of that overwhelming heat that I have experienced at other places. Even when I ate a whole chili that was floating in my curry, it had complex, kind of smokey flavours.

While we waited for our meal (it was the first night for everyone, and we were all eating for free, so we gave them a totally free pass on the service that night - I'm sure they'll work out the kinks soon) we ordered some spring rolls. Nothing outrageous about them, but they were tightly rolled, crispy, not greasy, stuffed with shrimpt, nicely presented and very hot. Then we had Spicy Red Curry Shrimp, Tamarind Duck and an order of sauteed mixed vegetables. The curry was lovely, and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. The flavours melded together so nicely, yet I felt that I could taste individual ingredients at the same time, if that makes any sense. I can say without hesitation that the duck was the most tender and moist that I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and the sauce was delicious. The vegetables were colourful, perfectly crisp-tender and very fresh. We ended the meal with beautifully creamy, flavourful mango ice cream.

Two of us could not finish all of the food, and although we weren't paying, my recollection from the menu is that the prices were extremely reasonable. The new furniture is very comfortable - I don't think that I ever went in when it was Young Thailand, but when I would would walk by, people looked like they were really jammed in - tables are generously spaced now. Staff were friendly and helpful.

I don't know diddly about Thai, but I will definitely go back.

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  1. Yes, it's called Ivory Thailand...

    Has anyone else eaten there? I walked by last thursday night and there were only about 15 diners in the whole (big) place. Furniture and decor looks nice...

    1. I dropped in with the family for lunch. Good food - above average for a buffet - $12.95 ! Chatted with the owner. I felt welcomed. We did visit the Young Thailand 10 years ago - same location.
      I will return.

      1. Not that NOW magazine is always the best source for food reviews, but they also gave this new restaurant a raving review last week:

        http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007...

        Their lunch buffets sound like a great deal. Looking forward to trying this place very soon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gary

          My wife and I finally had a chance to check out the lunch buffet, and it was very good. Everything had great flavour and freshness. The place was quite busy when we arrived, and they were replenishing the food frequently even as it got close to 2pm and started to empty. I noticed the buffet trays seemed a bit smaller than some places, which was good because the food didn't sit out as long. Standout dishes were a couple types of fish, tofu veggie pad thai, fresh cold springrolls (I forget the correct name) and an excellent beef dish garnished with chunks of oranges. They also had some surprisingly good chicken wings.

          Service was efficient. At around $20 per person with a drink and tip it's not the cheapest lunch buffet going, but for the quality it's a great deal.

          -----
          Ivory Thailand
          81 Church, Toronto, ON M5C1K9, CA

        2. Does anyone know if this place has a website? I haven't been able to track one done, but from what I've read so far, it sounds like it might be promising.

          Here are some pictures that I stumbled across, both of the restaurant and the food:
          http://good-times.webshots.com/album/...

          1 Reply
          1. re: vorpal

            http://www.ivorythailand.com/

            Can't wait to try this one, thanks!

          2. Like Tracey, I'm no connoiseur when it comes to Thai. The BF and I went to Ivory Thailand last night and were very impressed. We started the meal with veggie spring rolls and chicken satay. Both excellent and it was obvious there were real peanuts in the satay sauce (rare these days). The BF also had the coconut chicken soup which was divine, the individual flavours of the coconut and lemongrass really came through. For mains, I had the traditional standby pad thai. When the dish came to the table, I was initially concerned that it would be somewhat flavourless as the noddles had very little colour. I've become so accustomed to ketchup-y pad thai, I was expecting reddish noddles. I need not have been concerned as the pad thai was amazing with generous amounts of well cooked chicken, shrimp and tofu. The BF had green curry for his main. The only hiccup in the meal was that he had to request rice for his curry. No biggie, maybe an oversight in the kitchen or service, or we missed when ordering that the side needed to be ordered as well. The curry, like everything else in the meal, was wonderful. Service was lovely as well. Very friendly staff. We will not hesitate to go back next time a Thai craving hits!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jayzie1

              I agree, this place is great! We decided to try take-out last week and were very impressed. We had spring rolls to start...nice and crispy, and not a hint of grease. We also had some tom yum soup which was lovely, studded with nice chunks of chicken, mushroom and fresh tomato, which I'd never had before in tom yum but it worked.
              For mains we had the red curry with a side of jasmine rice, ginger chicken, beef with noodles, and mixed vegetables. The red curry was really nice and comforting, again generously studded with chunks of chicken. The ginger chicken was nicely done, and came with some small very tasty noodles underneath which was a nice bonus. The beef with noodles was okay, nothing great, but still enjoyable. The mixed vegetables were impeccably fresh and came in a nice light sauce - standard mix of brocolli, cauliflower, red and green peppers and sliced carrots but as I said it was very fresh.
              We'd definitely order from them again.

            2. I'm not a thai food expert by any means, and I'm not the foody that half the folks on this board are, but I visited Ivory Thailand tonight and my meal was excellent. I ordered the duck curry, after deciding to try something different based on the extremely positive response so far in this thread, and I enjoyed it immensely. I tried a few of the other dishes as well and they were all different and all excellent. Raves all around for the party of eight. I'm curious to try the buffet, just to sample a few more of the dishes, but the food and service were beyond my expections, even after having read the glowing reviews here.

              1. I went last night - the place was empty - which was too bad as our food was delicious and the service was great. I had the coconut rice and the panang shrimp (done in a peanut/coconut sauce) I literally used my spoon to eat the rest of the leftover sauce as a soup it was sooo good.

                1. Had lunch there today for lunch and ordered from the a la carte menu (apparently the buffet's not available on the weekends).

                  I had the shrimp summer rolls (very good, wasn't full of vermicelli unlike a lot of other places, had basil and mint in there in addition to the shrimp and the dipping sauce was very nice, not hoisin based) and the Kao Soi (a curry noodle dish) with beef, presented impeccably and was also quite delicious, with red curry flavours and nicely cooked noodles. The place was pretty empty, so I got really good service, the waitress informing me that the kao soi was her favourite and my water was refilled often. It seems just a tad pricier than most thai places (at least for the apps and soups, perhaps they're just large portions) but I think it's worth it.

                  1. I went to Ivory Thailand last night and was pleasantly surprised. We didn't order much - just soups, a veggie dish and a noodle dish to share - but I was impressed by the food.

                    The veggies (broccoli and shiitakes in "house sauce") were crisp and fresh, not drowned in sauce. The noodles were cooked just right, not pasty or mushy, and there was a good ratio of toppings to noodles. The vegetarian hot'n sour soup was a little mild, but otherwise good, and not too viscous (which can get gross).

                    Service was friendly, if a little slow. The space is gorgeous, and I bet they can accommodate large groups.

                    We didn't order drinks, and the bill for three people came to about $40, tip included.

                    1. I brought my parents there and they (both) of them wanted to go back before going back east (home). I was happy with the duck curry, it was the only thing I was interested in tasting since I was heading out the following week to Thailand. I was told that they hired the same kitchen staff as Young Thai. For places that want a kitchen staff/chefs from Thailand - I know of one place that will arrange interviews for experienced staff (although Toronto might be a little too cold for them).

                      1. I went there yesterday. For some reason I had in my mind it was buffet every day. My fault.

                        Ordered standard fare, the summer rolls and the shrimp pad thai. Like the others, I appreciated the dipping sauce not being that sweet orange stuff you get at other Thai places, more of a savoury flavour. And the shrimp pad thai was very good, not over sweet, noodles not orange-red, all the flavours nicely balanced.

                        The place was somewhat empty, but it was an early Sunday night. I would return with a date since the ambience is beautiful and the service was great, or by myself when I wanted some upscale Thai food. Hopefully sometime I can get out there for the lunch buffet.

                        1. I tried Ivory Thailand for the first time last Friday and was very impressed. I will also give the disclaimer that I have no particular expertise about the "authenticity" of Thai food, but I do like to think I know a bit about deliciousness! The flavours and ingredients just had an extra certain something over other Thai that I've tried. I sampled the duck curry, pad thai, panang curry chicken, mango salad and the appetizer platter. I would order all of them again. The curries had an especially great flavour - the heat seemed much more integrated than with many others I've tried, so you never got that "oh there's a chili" sting, but rather a satsisfying slow burn. The appetizer platter had a very nice selection of treats, and as a bonus it was plated with those small crispy noodles that have the texture of styrofoam but become quite addictive (anyone know the name for those?).
                          The only downside was some long pauses in the service, but that was balanced out by friendliness and knowledge of the menu.
                          Best surprise of the night was finding out that they have a 25% discount on all food for the month of March. My friends went back the very next day, and I plan on doing the same soon.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: blakie

                            In answer to your question, it sounds like you're referring to shrimp chips, also known as krupuk. I would not characterize them as noodles, but they definitely have the styrofoam texture you describe.

                            1. re: basileater

                              I think the noodles are different from shrimp chips. I have had these noodles before, they are pretty flavourless, but somehow I too cannot stop munching on them. Shrimp chips are chip shaped and distinctly taste of dried shrimp.

                              Thanks for the info on the 25% discount. This is enough to get me out there again!

                              1. re: basileater

                                blakie is referring to the deep fried rice noodles which end up like little white styrofoam sticks. In Chinese restaurants, you'll often see them as a bed for a dish like Mongolian beef. They're good for absorbing sauce or excess grease. My Thai delivery place uses them as a bed for fried spring rolls to keep them from sitting in their own grease.