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Aug 13, 2009 03:08 PM

Visiting Ottawa; where to eat?

Looking, especially, for ethnic/unique and casual restos or food finds. Spicy is good. Local produce also. Party of two adults and two adventurous eating kids.

Tonight I suspect we're eating at Mongolian Village off 417. The kids love mongolian BBQ after becoming groupies at one near my parents in Los Angeles/South Bay and one of them (foodie in training) spotted the sign as we drove into town.

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    1. re: bigfellow

      Maybe some of the time, but not reliably. Had one of the worst restaurant experiences in a long time. Expectations were no higher than decent diner food. Burger was a burnt hockey puck served on cold bun, fries cold. Service a complete disaster of items forgotten, extra charges for things not ordered, food not brought out for different people within 15 minutes, etc. Complete disaster. An hour and a half for three people when place not even half full. Guy next to me sent plate back to kitchen three times.

      Fil's Diner
      1205 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y2Z8, CA

    2. Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro is about as unique an experience as one can get. Very cool. Don't know how the kids would like it, and it's rather pricey, but totally worth it.

      Otherwise, Ottawa has very good Indian and Thai food. I highly recommend Taj Mahal on Bank Street (just south of the Glebe) and Sweet Basil (by Huron).

      14 Replies
      1. re: vorpal

        Had a great lunch there this past week! Love the bowl of popcorn at the table, and very tasty cloudberry tea! Bring even your less adventurous friends - they will still find something they'll love.

        108 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N5M6, CA

        1. re: vorpal

          Any more Thai recommendations? I'll be in Ottawa this weekend and could eat Thai for every meal.

          1. re: middydd

            People seem to be going crazy for Nokham Thai in the west end, and Khao Thai (IIRC) downtown. I haven't yet tried either, but plan to soon. Sweet Basil is my absolute favourite, followed by the nearby Aiyara, which is a lovely restaurant with great food that celebrates the Thai art of vegetable and fruit carving.

            1. re: vorpal

              Khao Thai and Aiyara are my top two. Both are fabulous.

              1. re: piccola

                Thank you !! Very glad to have more recommendations.

              2. re: vorpal

                We got to Sweet Basil on Saturday and dinner was fabulous!!


                1. re: middydd

                  So glad you liked it! Mind if I ask what dishes you ordered? I wish I'd recommended the panaeng curry to you prior to you going. It's lick-the-plate-off delicious.

                  1. re: vorpal

                    Since it was such a cold, rainy evening we started with soup, one chicken with coconut milk and mushrooms, the other mixed seafood. The chicken was rich and filling, the seafood had the most delicate delicious broth.

                    Main courses, shared, were spicy noodles with shrimp, Pad Ki Mow, and Gaeng Pa, jungle curry with chicken.

                    The portions were generous but what we really loved was the absolute freshness of the ingredients and the complex layering of flavours. It was like every bite just burst with a great mix of herbs and vegetables.

                    And it smells so good in the restaurant. We'll definitely be back as often as we can.

                    1. re: middydd

                      I agree completely with your assessment! I've been trying to figure out what Sweet Basil does with their pad ki mow for years because I find that each bite is a complex collection of flavours, some of which I can't identify. While it's not all that traditional, being made with thinner rice noodles, it is the best pad ki mow I've ever eaten. I also really enjoy their jungle curry, which is a dish not served by many establishments, so I'm glad you had the opportunity to try it!

                      1. re: vorpal

                        I was surprised by the thin noodles, but, they work to hold all the ingredients together. With the thicker noodles it's almost like the other ingredients stay separate. Maybe the thin noodles are the secret to their complexity.

                2. re: vorpal

                  Incidentally, I ended up trying Khao Thai the other day, and was not at all impressed. It was not terrible, but didn't even smell like a Thai restaurant (no delicate aroma of jasmine rice, basil, and chillies upon entering), and Royal Thai around the corner is better, IMO (and FWIW, Royal Thai is edible, but not that good).

                  1. re: vorpal

                    Khao Thai-that's the one in the market isn't it? I've been once as well, nothing special. Portions are tiny too.

                    1. re: deabot

                      There's Royal Thai on Dalhousie, which has large portions of reasonable quality food for decent prices (even though it's far from the best Thai, I still love it for nostalgic reasons), and then there's Khao Thai around the corner on Murray (just across from Sweetgrass). Yes, the portions were very small... I ordered nearly $50 worth of takeout and when I lifted the takeout bag, I couldn't believe how light it was. Had the food been great, that wouldn't have been a problem, but it was just bland and boring. The spring rolls were quite possibly in the top five worst that I've had, and I've had some really awful spring rolls in my day.

                      I was surprised, because I find that Ottawa people generally know good Thai, and Khao Thai got such shining reviews on OttawaFoodies and, to a lesser extent, on Chowhound.

                      1. re: vorpal

                        I loved Khao Thai when it first opened, about five or six years ago. I haven't been back in years, so I can't vouch for its current performance.