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So let's cut to the chase...Linda's Thai. Is it worth it??

I'm planning on going out for Thai Tonight and I want to know if Linda's new resto is the go to place or should I look in a different direction.

I want great thai in a comfortable setting. I don't need intimately romantic, but...... I really don't want to be sitting on top of the party beside us either.

Other suggestions would be appreciated too.

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    1. I will give a qualified recommendation for Mengrai Thai. Search the board for ample commentary on this place. The food each time I've gone has been great -- but the portion size has been declining and the service is fairly inept. (sorry, that was harsh, but I've really never encountered service like this at a higher end restaurant...)

      1. food wise absolutely not. small over cooked portions, stinky shrimp, watery curry and high prices to boot. i found the space appeared cramped and it was certainly loud with no soft materials around what so ever... but didn't mind it. it was busy and hub bub was certainly acceptable for a lunch meal.

        i found the experience to be so poor that i went to sukhothai last night to make up for it and was very very happy. some of her curries did come out of the hot table (she suggests it's better this way because the flavours have time to meld) but the pad thai was fresh, just sweet enough and had a nice bit of tang though i could have done tangier. great amounts of chicken and a reasonable portion of each. rice was also included! why curry doesn't just automatically come with rice befuddles me. my bill for 3 items plus rice at lindas was going to be $50... my bill at sukhothai for two items (both mains were the same at each resto) and 2 drinks was $20. sukothai is a clean modern/spare design... certainly nothing to be afraid of.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          So we ended up at sukhothai and were pleasantly surprised. We had the spring rolls, great. The Pad thai sukhothai Delish, the Green curry amazing mix of flavours and just the right heat in all the dishes. Everything was made fresh to order we also had a beef dish (I can't Remember the name) it was a’right, we taste tested another beef dish and other items from the hot table and it was really good. The portions were fair but yes I did notice the Pad Thai only had 3 maybe 4 shrimp :(... The bill for 3 mains, spring rolls and all the hot table taste testing was a ridiculous OMG - $35 we were also very impressed with the clean modern design in a tight space...
          Great recommendation great experience...
          Thank you PP
          I might not go out of my way for it but It was worth it to try.

          1. re: Connoisseur

            awesome, glad you liked it. there are quite a few people here who got it on my radar and i'm really happy they did.

        2. Without hesitation I would have recommended the 'old' Linda's.
          The new one still hasn't 'officially opened' but they have taken the chef from the old location and I've been withholding my review until I've been a couple of times (but as a preview, I had no problems at all with the food which was cooked perfectly for me). Indeed it was crowded - that's a good sign; and I still think the best approach (as at the old Linda's) is to go for the more unusual dishes - the ones that tend to be outside the 'street food' that most restaurants serve.
          For example, ordering Pad Thai at Linda's NEVER made any sense to me - of course it's more expensive there - they have uniformed waiters, clean tablecloths and probably more other overheads. Similarly, a steak at Bymark (or any neighbourhood bistro) costs more than one at a diner.
          I WILL be returning - but won't review until they are officially open.
          Mengrai has extremely casual service - to the point of serving wrong dishes to EVERY table (the last time I was there). I find their spicing 'generic' - I believe another thread said (roughly - I can't refind the thread) that Mengrai allows its sauces to be pre- prepared as the ingredients marry better that way and people prefer it (hope I haven't misquoted the intent) - and that fits with my assessment of lack of distinctiveness in Mengrai's dishes. I also think that Mengrai hustle particular dishes a little too aggressively - not sure why. And their tables are also close together - hence I was able to determine that all other tables got the wrong dishes too - and salvage my course from another table before it was touched.
          Is Linda's great? - Certainly some dishes are (or were) - but Pinstripe Princess's review is disturbing (I believe PP - a regular and valuable contributor to this board) - and totally different to my experience. I didn't have shrimp - but my curry entree included rice - and I was offered more later.(I was there for dinner, not lunch).

          2 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            thanks for the vote of confidence, i was a little baffled at their response to the shrimp and so it actually might have sealed my fate on not visiting again. it was only one meal though and i knew that i likely wasn't ordering to the best of their abilities but time was my biggest concern and so we picked what i considered easy dishes.

            their menu was much more unique before their move and i'm surprised they didn't try to carry over much of it. though i'm sure that the street food section is the biggest seller. it was certainly what covered the majority of the tables from what i saw.

            1. re: estufarian

              I will preface my comments with the caveat that a) I never ate at the old Linda and b) while I enjoy Thai food, I can't claim to be an afficionado (or even close).

              That being said, I really enjoyed my one meal at Linda, but am inclined to agree with estufarian that the more unusual dishes are probably the better way to go. My husband and I were crazy about the Mieng Kum (which the waitress described to us as "unusual") and the curry fish hot pot, but the lettuce wraps (which the waitress described as a "popular item") were meh and the green curry chicken was good but not exceptional. See my previous review...

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/614803

            2. Having never been to Linda's, I cannot comment, I can however offer 2 recommendations.

              Our go-to place as of late has been Thai Bistro, on Yonge south of Finch...their pad thai is fantastic, as this is our typical go to quick n easy dish.

              Second suggestion (although recently Estuf has given some negative feedback on it) is Thai Shen Inn, their Tom Yum is without doubt the best I have had in the city, as is their mango salad. They do a 'saucier' version of pad thai, but still very authentic...oh and their whole fried fish in garlic sauce is great too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sadistick

                Yes - used to live on their Tom Yum Goong but the OP asked for a 'comfortable setting' 'Nuff said - Thai Shan Inn was a dive!

                1. re: estufarian

                  True...but I did not find it uncomfortable...

                  Either way, I'll take a dive with good food over a up scale joint with mediocre food any day.

                2. re: Sadistick

                  Thai Bistro is about the worst Thai I've had in Toronto. The meat was that horribly tenderized-to-mush stuff you get at cheap buffet places and the Pad Thai had an off flavour. This place is dirty, to boot.

                3. It might be "worth it" for you if:

                  a) you've never had authentic thai before (i.e. eaten in thailand)
                  b) want a more upscale setting w/ very good service (albeit noisy and slightly cramped vs old location), and willing to pay more for your meal
                  c) avoid the bad dishes like the ones I had (papaya salad, shrimp pad thai, duck curry).

                  I agree with Sadistick that uptown the only thai place that's close to authentic is Thai Bistro (but some of their ingredients aren't the best, like the beef), and it's tiny and don't except any service if the son is working the front). I haven't tried any good downtown Thai places yet.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Royaljelly

                    Hello Royaljelly,

                    Had lunch there today. Ordered the Shrimp pad thai, Smoked duck breast in Penang curry sauce, Crispy Angus top sirloin and Boneless beef ribs. They were all very deicious. Especially the crispy beef which was excellent and a great textural feel. May be you went there on an off day? Both the chef and owner Linda came to our table and chatted with us. Told us they will be coming out with an awesome 'rib-eye' new dish. Do agree with you about the papaya salad. Nothing special and a bit too sour for my palette. Was told the mango salad is better.

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Is it possible things have improved?

                  2. I love thai. I'm not an expert. but here's a few places that I like.

                    http://www.greenbasilrestaurant.com/

                    http://www.springrolls.ca/

                    spring rolls on Front street is lovely. great calming atmosphere. good service. good food and good price.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: shoeaholic75

                      Spring Rolls!?!? You must be kidding me....

                      Bad food at above average prices...not a winning combo in my books!

                      1. re: Sadistick

                        I have to agree -- Spring Rolls is the worst offender in the "mediocre-pan-Asian-dumbed-down-and-gussied-up-for-yuppies" class of restaurants.

                        1. re: Sadistick

                          depends on your taste...
                          that's your opinion.
                          I know a lot of people that enjoy spring rolls
                          for those who haven't gone, try it for yourself and you be the judge...
                          its honestly not that bad.
                          okay there's chains poping up.
                          but everyone loves mcdonalds....
                          it may not be authentic...but whatever...its good enough that people go there...they haven't been shut down...like any greasy chinese place...its one to try...

                          1. re: shoeaholic75

                            I have to disagree, although I mean no offense by this: it really is the worst of the worst when it comes to Asian food. Everything is borderline-flavourless and poorly assembled. I can't believe that anyone goes to Spring Rolls for reasons other than the trend factor.

                            At least crappy Canadian Chinese food, for example, has flavour and there's a time and a place for it. (Heck, I like it more than I want to admit.) I personally do not see any reason that anyone would go to Spring Rolls, much less recommend it.

                            1. re: shoeaholic75

                              oh come on, you are just weakening your already very weak argument by using McD's popularity as a defense. We're not lookiing for "good enough" here. Go eat at a few of the places others have reccomended here. Then reevaluate your outlook. Spring Rolls! Feh!

                              1. re: haggisdragon

                                Not that I'm saying Spring Rolls is great, or the place to go to for a really authentic Asian experience, or somewhere that I would recommend, but I wouldn't say it's the "worst of the worst" either. At the risk of being completely shot down on this board, I've had some decent food there, and I've gotta say, I'd take it over deep fried chicken balls with fluorescent sauce any day.

                                1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                  Deep-fried chicken balls with fluorescent sauce have some sort of flavour, are incredibly cheap, and are mostly a comfort food.

                                  The type of people I know who like Spring Rolls think that Canadian-Chinese delivery is analogous to McDonald's in terms of authenticity, quality, nutritional value, etc. They think that Spring Rolls is authentic, high-quality, and healthy.

                                  I've found the food at Spring Rolls to be incredibly bland, devoid of authenticity, devoid of flavour, devoid of any sort of food-related essence. It's just there to satisfy the business lunch crowd, where the average Torontonian won't even eat authentic "Asian" food.

                                  I'd take Canadian-Chinese over Spring Rolls, because sometimes I actually feel like eating chicken balls with fluorescent sauce (though not that often). I never feel like eating an oily, bland, pan-Asian failure of a dish. For instance, I once had some sort of fried rice dish that was just oily rice with the tiniest cubes of barely discernible ingredients that really had no flavour anyways, and it was a really low quality rice as well.

                          2. re: vorpal

                            Spring rolls is the Pickle Barrel of Thai Food - pleases the masses for more than it should cost. I really like Satay on the Road for delivery and have had excellent eat-in Thai at the Thai House in Missisauga. need to try Mengrai still.

                            1. re: shoeaholic75

                              You're going to get a lot of harsh responses; Spring Rolls is one of the most hated establishments on this board. I personally know a lot of people who enjoy Spring Rolls, but I can't say that I'd ever find their culinary opinions valuable.

                              I personally think it's like the Kelsey's of "Asian" food, which is not high praise, but to be honest, I've never eaten Thai food at a restaurant due to allergy concerns.

                              There are a lot of members on the board whose opinions I trust. Though vorpal hasn't been in Toronto for a bit (I believe), he is pretty qualified as to his opinions regarding Thai food. Though we've had our own disagreements, I would definitely trust estufarian's judgment. pinstripeprincess also knows what she's talking about.

                              Given this, I can't really make a judgment on the new Linda (and, well, I've never eaten there, so there won't be any pro-con from me), but I really, really, would advise against going to Spring Rolls unless it's like an office party (for people who would never, ever visit a forum like this).

                              1. re: tjr

                                Yes, I've been in Ottawa since September of 2009, but I still enjoy occasionally dropping by to see how the Toronto food scene has changed, and also because I will visit at some point and want to keep up with how things are developing!

                                Thanks for the kind words, tjr.

                                I look forward to trying Sukhothai upon my next visit after all the good things I've heard.

                                1. re: vorpal

                                  Hey Vorpal, you mean September of 2008 right?!! It's only May of 2009!

                                  '-)

                                  1. re: pinkprimp

                                    quick! next week's lotto numbers!!! heheheh..

                              2. re: shoeaholic75

                                Spring Rolls is to Thai food as Chef Boyardee is to Italian.

                                Mengrai, Sukhothai, or possibly Young Thailand are amongst the very few acceptable Thai restaurants in Toronto that serve an actual experience that could be compared to Thailand. Please try them out.

                                1. re: vorpal

                                  vorpal,

                                  what dishes at what restaurants in toronto come closest to your experiences in thialand?


                                  Chow!
                                  HL.

                                  1. re: vorpal

                                    Mengari Thai is a major disappointment. It may have the same chef and the same location as Young Thailand, but the food is no near as good.

                                    1. re: evansl

                                      You're thinking of Ivory Thailand, evansl, and while it is in the same location as Young Thailand used to be, I don't believe that they have the same chef. (Wandee Young is the chef at Young Thailand.) Mengrai's head chef is Sasi, and it is located elsewhere.

                                2. I've eaten twice there now and I find the food good. While not tiny, portions aren't going to work for some. Dishes that I know I can get at Salad King, I may save for Salad King, (staples like Seafood fried rice and Thai Islam noodle), but the Beef Penang is very good and the Fish Curry Pot as well.

                                  I've found that for 2 people, a shared app, two mains, and a shared dessert is plenty.

                                  Noise level is high, decor is good, (I'd heard someone say it was like Congee Queen, and I disagree - it's much nicer/more detail). I don't love the screens area, but the booths are quite cozy for groups. I don't think I'd ever call it romantic, but it would still work for a more lively date.

                                  I have photos and a review in the pipe, but like Estufarian, it's hard to judge them right now in their soft opening.

                                  --
                                  http://www.foodpr0n.com/ - food. is. love.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jlunar

                                    I find the version of Thai Islam Noodle at Linda has more complex flavours and higher quality seafood than the Thai Islam Noodle at Salad King (not surprising when you consider the different pricepoints ) ;-)

                                    The spicing in the Panang curry at Salad King is also less complex (and IMO much less tasty) than the version at Linda's, so that's another dish I'd keep ordering at Linda rather than SK.

                                    I'll still order the Thai Islam Noodle any visit I make to Linda:)

                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                      Most definitely better versions at Linda's! Quality of ingredients are much higher and everything melds a bit better.

                                  2. I visited the downtown location a month ago. I had been to Salad King a few times before and found it average at best, but I had heard great things about Linda's, so I decided to climb the stairs.

                                    The dishes I ordered came recommended from this board. My favourite was the Fish Curry Hot Pot. It featured a very cute table presentation, with it's own burner, beneath what appeared to be a cloth basket. But the fish was just lovely and flavourful. The curry was nice and complex as well. My friend ordered the Crispy Duck and it was also excellent. I didn't love the Hot And Sour Soup, but the mains certainly won me over.

                                    The portions are a good size, I really had no complaints. They also have someone who walks about constantly refilling rice (which was rather cute too). So considering you're not paying a few extra bucks for a side of rice, the prices are very reasonable in my book.

                                    I would definitely return.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Rudiger

                                      Thanks, Rudiger, but it's important to note that there is no old Linda's for you to return to, and the new location, from what others have noted, is different than the old location, in many ways. You might want to check it out and see what you think of it now it's moved.

                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                        Ah noodles, I didn't know they were completely closing up the old one!

                                        Well then, I work in the Don Mills area, I'll give it shot when I can.

                                        1. re: Rudiger

                                          Yup. The second floor is supposed to be just for Salad King overflow now...

                                    2. I've posted a detailed review here
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626493

                                      I think it deserves a different title than 'Linda's Thai'.