Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Feb 19, 2011 06:57 PM

Khao San Road Review

Haven't seen one yet on the boards, so I thought I'd post my critique of this new restaurant.


Food was placed as a take-out order

Ordered from the Lunch Menu

40 min round trip to and from Khao San and back to location of ingestion

Right then; on with the review!

1) Garlic Tofu

Tofu was absolutely crispy, as described. Nice creaminess in the middle, appreciated the total absence of chalky-ness that you sometimes get in other applications similar to this. Unfortunately, the advertised "Garlic Sauce" didn't make the trip back with me. Cynics may say that was my fault for not checking the contents of my bag, but I still feel like the restaurant has at least SOME responsibility towards ensuring my order is complete. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the little nuggets and they also passed the 15 minute test (stayed crispy past 15 minutes, not including the 20 minutes they steamed in the bag prior to my return to work).

4/5 (.5 point deduction because the sauce was missing)

2) Pad Thai (Street-Style)

Somewhat pretentiously I asked if I could have a half order of both variations of pad thai in one container so we could taste both types. My request was politely denied, and I didn't want to press them, just out of respect for the menu not having a "Mix and Match your own dishes" option. I decided on the "Street-Style" pad thai, logically thinking that a restaurant named for a street in Thailand, must do good street pad thai.

Please understand that I am judging this dish solely upon flavor because of the transit time. We all know what happens to sauced noodles when they're left to sit for a bit.

The flavor was bland. Had you placed this dish in front of me and asked me what it is, I would not have said pad thai. We tasted no tamarind, though thankfully there was also an absence of ketchup as well. Perhaps "street-style" pad thai is a completely different beast, as the description on the menu is rather vague. I admit that I don't know exactly what "street-style" means, so maybe this is precisely what it should taste like. With no peanuts, and only a few shreds of cabbage, the dish was unpleasantly mushy. I will say that they were very generous with the amount of chicken provided. Maybe next time we'll go back for the other pad thai...


3) Khao Soi

Deconstructed for the take-out order, the dish came in separate containers of egg noodles, coconut curry with beef, crispy noodles and a lime wedge. Very nice thought on their part because it prevented overcooked and stodgy noodles.

I first must address the beef in this dish. I have a problem with incorrectly braised beef. Braising is heralded as being easy and simple, but that doesn't mean you can't mess it up. Take the beef in the curry, for instance; dry, stringy and not overly tender. I'm not sure if the beef was boiled too angrily during the braise, or if the wrong cut was used, or if the beef was left to sit outside of liquid while it cooled, but it was a massive disappointment. Hopefully it's an inconsistency with the kitchen, and I just ordered it on the wrong day.

The curry was nicely seasoned, and had that spice technique that I really like where the heat covers the entire surface of your tongue, from tip to the back of your throat. Too many times I have had curries where I can tell they only used cayenne because the tip of my tongue is on fire while the rest of my mouth is fine. This was done with finesse and balance, which I commend them for.

I don't think I have to describe the egg noodles or crispy noodles to you; they were competent for what they were there for.


4) Tapioca

This was fantastic. Way up there rubbing shoulders with Keller's Oysters and Pearls in terms of my favorite applications of tapioca. A creamy, yet light tapioca pudding served warm with thin strips of young coconut flesh. Wonderfully refreshing, it was a shame to have to swallow it eventually because it was like silk on the roof of my mouth. Tapioca pearls were perfectly cooked; soft but still offering delicate resistance. Most importantly of all, it wasn't too sweet.


Bill: ~$37
Final Remarks:

Not the best thai food I've had in Toronto (Thai Shan still holds that comfy seat), but with a few tweaks, and perhaps a drop in price, they could really go places here. Next time we'll be sure to try the other pad thai, and hopefully we'll be able to dine-in to eliminate any outside variables. For now, however, I feel like KSR is still a work in progress (understandable; they've been open for what - two weeks?) though, and I know the owners read these boards, I offer them nothing but encouragement because I see fantastic potential moving forward.

Khao San Road
326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: estufarian

      Not sure I understand what you're trying to say; that thread was the original opening thread and it's become quite a jumble of information. When I said I hadn't seen a review thread, I meant a thread that gave people a single area to post their opinions of the place and read other reviews as well.

    2. Looks like they have some consistency issues since the beef in the khao soi I had for lunch on Friday was tender. I thought the garlic tofu was fantastic and look forward to many many more lunches there in the future. I may need to make a reservation though, it was completely packed by 12:30. Pretty good turnout since there's still no official sign outside yet!

        1. re: fryerlover

          Khao San Road was every bit as good as I was expecting. We are addicted to Sukho Thai delivery and thought we would venture over to Khao San Road to check it out. The food was delicious and fresh, service was great, and the room was perfect.

          I typically dislike Thai food but since we moved to Toronto and Sukho Thai was recommended to us by friends, we cant say enough about the food.

          Khao San Road
          326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

        2. Just went their tonight for the first time. I have never been Sukhothai so I was excited to try this new place out! I took my friends and we all LOVED it! We ordered 2 appetizers, the garlic tofu and the squash chips. I just read the Globe and Mail review and realized we should have gotten the squash fritters, oh well, we can get that the next time we go! I loved the garlic tofu, fried tofu with a very tasty dipping sauce! The squash chips were okay, they tasted like plain chips but with the dip it came with, it elevated them to another level!

          For our mains, my friend and I got the medium Sam Roas pad thai and my other friend got the Gaeng Panang with chicken. As soon as I started eating, I just ate the whole dish up, it was so good that I enjoyed every bite and didn't get tired of eating the same thing. It was so good and the perfect level of spiciness! My friends loved their dishes as well. We were too stuffed for dessert!

          I believe Jeff came by at the end of our meal to ask what we thought and we told him how much we loved it and asked him how long his restaurant had been open for. He was very nice and looked genuinely pleased that we had enjoyed the food. We look forward to going many more times!

          Sukhothai Restaurant
          11 4th St E, Cornwall, ON K6H2H7, CA

          1. Went to KSR on Saturday for dinner and there was a line up out the door. We ended up sitting at the bar. We had waited about 40 mins for a table for 2 as we didn’t have reservations but it appeared that those who had reservations also had a bit of a wait.
            Once we were seated we didn’t get our menu right away. It was about a 10 min wait. The menu and wine list are just a few pages printed on some computer paper and stapled at the corner.
            We were starving and were excited to try the food so we ordered 10 things (we don't mind taking home leftovers!): garlic tofu, spring rolls, squash fritters, one soup, som roas pad thai, khao soi, Pad Gra Prao, 2 desserts, and 2 thai iced teas.

            Issues: out of the items we ordered, we failed to receive all our dishes (didn’t get spring rolls, soup, pad gra prao, one dessert). The speed from the kitchen is similar to Sukho thai but there is nothing new about that. But be prepared to wait for food while the phone rings off the hook and no one answers as they are too busy serving customers in the store. Also the sound of the ice crushing machine whirring every 5 mins to keep up with thai iced tea orders is beyond annoying. We also didn’t get any water or chilli sauce brought to us throughout our entire meal even though we asked for it. the service was clearly overwhelmed by the patrons. The line up was consistent throughout our entire dinner.

            The food was great. The Garlic tofu and Sam Roas style pad thai – both amazing. See previous reviews and believe them. Flavourful and done perfectly. The koah soi was very rich, I definitely wouldn’t be able to eat this everyday. The meat was tender and the noodles were soft. I’ve never tried this dish before (always stuck to the delicious pad thai) but read so much about it I had to try it. it was a nice presentation, but there was a clear separation between the top layer of oil and the coconut curry laksa-like soup. Perhaps this is normal, it wasn’t a big deal, I just stirred it in. it was tasty otherwise. We ordered our entrees thai hot and they were very mild (it would have been nice to add chilli sauce to it, but we never rec’d it). The drinks were delicious, very creamy and the blend of tea is to die for! Much better than any other thai iced tea I’ve had in Toronto. The crushed ice cubes is a nice touch, instead of large ice cubes. The dessert was simple, warm, and creamy.

            Despite the food being phenomenal, there were clear service issues. We didn’t get all of our food but didn’t want to wait 30 mins for all the things that were not brought out, esp in the noisy area we were sitting in, so maybe they did us a favour there. Our bill was about $75 for 2 people, I loved the food, but I would grade the forgetful and disorganized wait staff/service a D. The atmosphere left me with a pounding headache from both the noise and the crowd we had to battle through to leave our seats to exit. I plan on coming back, but I’ll be waiting for owners to get things sorted and the hype dies down a bit before I go back again.

            Khao San Road
            326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7, CA

            14 Replies
            1. re: stephcolb

              Joane Kates reviewed it yesterday and said basically the same thing - great food and haphazard service. But now you'll have to wait quite awhile for the hype to die down. That's when I'll give it a try.


              1. re: foodyDudey

                i'm happy for the owners that their business is doing well, but one would think that they would pay attention to the constant service issues. it would make a huge difference in the dining experience, esp given the high caliber of food.

                1. re: stephcolb

                  You probably caught the restaurant at a "perfect storm". The weekend following reviews in 2 major papers in Toronto. Pretty hard for any restaurant to handle that kind of demand on such short notice.

                  Staffing is a delicate issue, even if you hire a bunch of extra help for the weekends. How do you disperse shifts when it's quieter on weekdays? Pretty hard to keep extra well trained staff with only shifts on Friday/Saturday.

                  Then again, I don't think most diners care about these things. They just want to be served quickly. The problems they deal with behind the scene is none of their concern. Just make it work!

                  I've had delays with food coming out in the past at both KSR and Sukhothai, but I'm willing to cut them slack because it's a family operation w/ financial constraints. I try to avoid going on Fri/Sat if at all possible.

                  274 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                  1. re: aser

                    staffing is an ongoing issue, but small things could have made a big difference. for example it did not appear that any of the staff had sections (maybe it was just the bar area?) anyways, a different girl gave us the menu, our dishes were brought to us by different people, and our bill was served by a different person.

                    it seemed like the tables were numbered for taking orders, but the staff appeard to be confused about what dishes were ordered at each table. several times (i'm talkin more than 5+) i saw the waitresses go up to a different table and ask "did you order X?". this happened to us as well, and the additional pad thai ended up belonging to the table behind us.

                    i def. took the reviews and CH buzz into consideration, and we were laid back so i didn't bother asking for our missed items, etc as to not stress out the young staff even more. however i firmly believe that small tweaks could have been made to enhance the experience. like having one waitress/host be assigned to answer the phone so it's not ringing off the hook. this would be considerate to patrons who are calling, and those sitting on the right side of the resto. the food is good enough to return but i just wish the service was ironed out a bit! i'm sure the business will continue to do really well, which gives the owners tons of opportunity to improve. i'm glad there's a great place for thai in downtown and def. want them to succeed.

                    1. re: aser

                      mrs bytepusher had lunch this week, real service problems and NOT because they were slammed, at the time they weren't. Kitchen coped fine, food sits in the pass for 10+ minutes before being delivered while the servers socialized.

                2. re: stephcolb

                  just wanted to note that the menu isn't finalized which is why they're on printer paper at the moment.

                  1. re: stephcolb

                    I also experienced service issues several weeks ago, and it was not busy. Very friendly, but quite "out of it"-mostly green servers from what I could tell. Had to ask for water repeatedly before getting any, didn't receive sparkling water refills that were asked for, etc.. The servers also had no clue about whether any of the wines on the board were offered by the glass, so just ordered beer instead.

                    The redeeming factor was that the food was fantastic, much better than my experiences at Sukhothai in fact. Khao Soi and pad thai amazing, squash fritters and cold rolls ditto. I will be back, but will wait a bit to see if they can iron out the service kinks.

                    Does anyone know if they offer vegetarian options at lunch?

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      From what I remember, I don't think they actually list vegetarian options on the lunch menu, but we asked if they could make a veggie pad thai for my coworker and it wasn't a problem.

                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        Are any of the wines offered by the glass? We ate there last week and were told by our server that none of them were (which really surprised a place with mains averaging around $15, we have to buy a whole bottle if we want wine?)

                        1. re: Strongbad789

                          I was there last week and really enjoyed the squash fritters as well as one of the house special curries with tamarind and shrimps. There were no wines by the glass but there is a half bottle of a decent high acid italian white available for about $20 - basically the same price as 2 glasses.

                          Like a review above, I was completely unimpressed with the pad thai and found the spicing very mild. I had ordered medium which was barely detectable.

                          I would go back as I found the service very friendly and efficient and I live in the area.

                          1. re: Cat123

                            Complaining about the lack of spicing when you ordered medium seems contradictory to me.

                            Go back, try the spicy or thai spicy and then you'll see. Spicing is such a personal issue, it's so hard to define one's medium to another's spicy. Almost as variable as "salting".

                            Plus, with medium in Toronto, you know they're going to err on the side of caution = not spicy.

                            1. re: aser

                              Agree fully here re:spicing Aser. I requested my pad Thai "Thai spicy" and it was fantastic.

                              1. re: aser

                                totally agree. someone ordered 'mild' and she couldn't eat it because it was too spicy for her...

                                1. re: aser

                                  Thanks - my complaint with the pad thai wasn't really the spicing level - it was the general lack of flavour. I typically order medium spiciness when at a resto for the first time as you never know what they have in mind.