New Sing./Malay downtown
The place where Xe Lua used to be (and under the new Xe Lua) has been papered up for months. Finally a sign has gone up, it is to be called Laksa, offering "Sing Ma Thai cuisine". This is a Chinese shorthand term for Singapore/Malaysia/Thai. The signage looks modern, so the design would probably be similar to Asian Legend and the new 88 restaurant. Hopefully they'll have good Hainan Chicken Rice, Sate, Laksa, Mee/Nasi Goreng ... etc.
I had lunch there on Wednesday around 1:30pm. My colleague and I both ordered the curry laksa which I thought was deelish--nicely spicy coconut broth with plenty of noodles and good sized shrimp. The serving was almost vat-like, and I had to resist the urge to nap under my desk afterwards. We also had shrimp cakes which were a bit odd--sort of like the shrimp burgers at fast food joints in northern Asia.
The service was friendly and our laksas were on the table about 6 minutes after we ordered. The space is large and a bit over stylized for my taste, but the menu is novel-length so you're sure to find something that appeals. Granted much of the menu is unexciting fried rice and stir fried somethings, the laksa will bring me back for another round soon.
Well they're open. We went in with great anticipation - and left in a huff and vowing to never return.
First, the menu is a total disappointment. Apart from 2 laksa noodles and the Hainan Chicken, and pages of Hong Kong style hot and cold drinks, all the items are Thai. This is really a Thai resto specifically for the Hong Kong Chinese. And in fact the place was NOISY, just like some of the dim sum places in HK. (The fact that the decor is almost all hard surfaces doesn't help.)
Then, they are all rank amateurs when it comes to service. There were four people trying to figure out a bill, three to clear a table, and none to take our order. Finally the owner walked by, looked at the menus on our table, and asked if we had ordered. Duh!
He was en route to talk to the people who sat down at the next table who he appeared to know. They asked him what's good, and it seemed they are not familiar with the cuisine (this is important).
My drink (pickled lemon soda) came - and almost went to the next table. I stopped the server before he sat it down and asked if it's the soda, he said sorry yes it is, he must have gotten the table numbers mixed up, and gave it to me. So we waited and waited, and maybe 20 minutes later, what appeared to be our order again passed by our table and the server (a different one) started to put it on the next table. Again I stopped him and tried to confirm it is our order. He said no, that is what the next table ordered. The people there, sensing that "their" food was in dispute, immediately dug in, in order to claim it. At that point M (who absolutely detests bad service) could not take it any longer. He went to the counter and asked why our food went to the other table. They then realized they made a mistake. But it might mean another 20 minutes for our food, and we are not interested in waiting around, so I put the money for the drink on the table and we left.
So we did not even touch the food. But from what we saw, it's expensive and not good. "Thai fried rice" at $11 looked like all rice with very little ingredients. Chinese broccoli with dried fish is $9 and the portion was about the size of my palm.
If anyone still wants to go try it out, I suggest giving them at least a month or two to settle in.
walked by today after we finished at King's Noodle for a fix of Chinese BBQ and Chow Mein, they looked a little busy - at least the tables by the windows were all full... looks a little too shishi foofoo for me along Spadina. If I wanted real Malay/Thai/Sing food I think I would of headed north to the burbs...
Maybe I might change my mind in a few weeks before we move closer to King West.
My mother and I went there yesterday. I wanted to eat some Pho, but my mother, being part Hainan and from Malaysia, insisted that we try out this new restaurant.
The decor looks okay, until you actually sit. Hard wood chairs. The fixed seating on one side of the wall has a back cushion, but is still hard wood for your bottom. Quite uncomfortable.
First off, the service is absolutely dreadful. The servers don't smile, and none actually scope out the customers. They're all doing errands such as emptying the cash register or walking to the back of house. There were four servers, and none of them were attentive.
Next is the food itself. I ordered M18, which was supposed to be a deep-fried spicy fish filet. I asked the server to include a bowl of rice with it. She hesitated and didn't know what order code the bowl of rice was, so I had to look for it in the oversized menu myself.
When my meal came, I saw that my deep-fried fish filet was drowning in some kind of runny tomato sauce. Everyone knows that deep-fried foods turn into soggy muck if there is too much sauce. The filet itself was topped with bell peppers (0 scoville) and pineapple?! The dish wasn't even spicy at all!
M18 cost $13.95, which was way overpriced. The bowl of rice was 50% more than other restaurants at $1.50. Thumbs way down, and it was the first time in a long time that I left no tip.
Also noticed the new sign. It's interesting that the restos along and around Spadina are slowly getting more slick. Asian Legend, King's Noodle, Pho 88, and to a much lesser yet still admirable extent, even Chinese Traditional Buns has renovated.
Staying with Spadina news, I've been watching patiently as the space previously occupied by Dai Nam (more recently a shoe store) is being completely redone. I noticed them moving in some kitchen equipment so it's definitely going back to a restaurant. They knocked out a lot of the brick wall on the south side and have replaced it with glass so iti'll be nice and bright. Just noticed this weekend a little bit of decoration starting to appear above the entrance that looks has the makings of a Buddha in a Thai style. I was on the streetcar so could be mistaken. If anyone has any more info on this place, I guess we should start a new thread...