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Is there a Thai place in Toronto that comes close to Lotus of Siam (Vegas)?

This is not a knock on Toronto. I'm coming up for the weekend and want to take my son and his squeeze to a great Thai place. IMHO Lotus of Siam sets the standard (and if you ever get to Vegas you should check it out). What Thai places in Toronto are great?

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  1. Looks like you haven't found this thread yet: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451937

    Not sure I'd hold my breath re: Thai food at the LOS level.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dave Feldman

      Thank you Dave (are you EVERYWHERE?) but I saw this thread and really didn't get the feeling that any of these were what I'd call close. And regarding Dubchild - last time I checked Lotus of Siam did have a $10 buffet that was pretty good (about the best Thai buffet ever) but they also have a spectacular a la carte menu that is not expensive. Don't want to get in an argument but Lotus is the dog's ballocks.

    2. I constantly see Lotus of Siam come up on Chowhounds and in magazines as the best Thai. When we went a few years back it was hands down one of the most mediocre Thai restaurants I've ever been to. We went for lunch and they only had a buffet. Nothing came across as fresh, intensely flavoured, or even unique or interesting. Khao San Road is easily far better than Lotus of Siam. Unfortunately most hyped food I've had in the States has been a let down. Pink's in Los Angeles is another joke.

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

      21 Replies
      1. re: dubchild

        Agree, that restaurant is absolutely not worth it. I find on more recent discussions ppl acknowledge this, nut many still just read the old messages and repeat what they read.

        1. re: szw

          I don't want to draw this discussion out and turn it into an argument. However, there are now TWO Lotus of Siams. The original in Vegas which is reasonably priced and is still excellent - (as of 5 weeks ago it was - the last time I was there) and a pseudo-spinoff in New York which appears to be overpriced and not very good - apparently the Vegas folks were involved for a while but have walked away from it.

          1. re: kagemusha49

            I was recently at Lotus of Siam and enjoyed it but was not wowed by it. IMHO I would check out Mengrai for the most interesting thai food in Toronto.

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            Mengrai
            82 Ontario Street, Toronto, ON M5A 2V3, CA

            1. re: glickjor

              The question: is there a Thai joint in Toronto that comes close to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas? The answer is: no. Not even close. Every time I get to Las Vegas - about twice a year - I make it my business to get to LOS (as it's called in Las Vegas), and have been doing so for years. It's in a dingy, dreary mall east of The Strip, and you almost feel you need a team of bodyguards to get you at night from the parking lot to the restaurant. And at night is when you should go. The buffet at lunch is all right, I guess (I've never tried it), but it doesn't show LOS at its best, which is the nightly dinner menu. It's a huge one, with lots of dishes I've never seen on Thai menus in Toronto, almost all imaginatively done - with tastes and textures I haven't experienced anywhere else. LOS may have the odd off night, I suppose, but not when I've been there. To see what a true Thai menu looks like, you can access the LOS menu on its website - though I haven't done so for a couple of years because it used to get me all hungry and anxious to hop a plane to Las Vegas immediately. I've directed some Thai restaurateurs in Toronto to the LOS menu, but mainly they just shrug their shoulders and tell me many of those dishes wouldn't sell in Toronto. So we have a slew of Thai spots here with almost identical, standard-issue menus, some of which do it better than others. But none at the level of LOS.

              P.S. The ubiquitous Dave Feldman, who posted on this thread above, is the Las Vegas board's version of our own omnivorous Charles Yu, a sort of guru of good, cheap chow, and has eaten through the entire LOS menu - probably more than once - and helped make it known to others with his perceptive postings. (Like Charles Yu, I suspect Dave never eats at home.) Also in LOS's favor: modest prices, and a remarkable wine list of mainly Rieslings, which seem to go best with Thai cuisine. I prefer beer, though. If a Toronto Thai spot came even close to LOS in menu diversity, quality and pricing, I'd be a regular there for life.

              1. re: juno

                Thanks for the kind words, Juno. I certainly didn't mean to start an off-topic debate about the merits of LOS. I don't eat much at home because, well, you wouldn't eat much at my house if you ate my cooking, either!

                Just one little point -- the full dinner menu at LOS is available at lunch, too (exact same portions, same price). I never eat the buffet at lunch, although I've been known to cadge a few of the garlic chicken wings from it. I've spoken to the Chutimas about why they don't eliminate the buffet and their answer is illuminating -- they don't want to price out the locals who were there core support when they took over the restaurant. Many of these office workers couldn't afford the slightly higher price of an a la carte lunch.

                I'm in Toronto for the North American bridge tournament. We've essentially taken over the Royal York and Sheraton Centre for ten days.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Where do you plan on eating, Dave?

                  1. re: tjr

                    Good question! The problems of playing bridge while eating seriously are immense. I didn't want to post a general "where should I eat?" post, because I know how annoying it can be for regulars. I don't want to hijack this thread. I'm playing bridge seriously for four days now and food can't be top priority, especially because I'll be with groups of people at odd hours (like eating at 5:00 p.m.) Some other bridge players have posted threads and I've read those and of course reading some more on the board.

                  2. re: Dave Feldman

                    My goal in starting this thread was not to diss Toronto but simply to locate the best Thai restaurant. Having eaten a la carte (awesome) and buffet (cheap and still very good) at Lotus of Siam, I know it is an outstanding restaurant. I'd love to find a Thai restaurant in Toronto that is as good and, if I do, I'll report on it but I'm not optimistic - I expect I'll have a nice Thai meal nevertheless.

                  3. re: juno

                    My impression of Charles Yu is guru of high priced, luxury chow and upscale authentic Chinese, not "cheap chow" as stated above!

                    The LOS standard is an extensive menu with dishes from all regions of Thailand. Our Toronto Thai restos don't go into such lengthy menus, with good reason. Restos like Khao San Road choose a limited repertoire and do it well, rather than spreading themselves thin. If you combine a few Thai restos in Toronto you might get a bigger repertoire.

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

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      Charles did have some post on cheap chow, but majority are on mid to upscale dining. I think maybe juno is only interested in cheap chow so he/she only read Charles's post on cheap food.

                      I suppose when people are making comparison on LOS and Khao San Road, they have been to both restaurants and compared familiar dish ? There is no point to compare dish that is only on LOS's menu but not in Khao San Road's.

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        Upon reflection, perhaps "cheap chow" wasn't quite the appropriate phrase I used to describe Charles' culinary perambulations. "Value-oriented chow" would be much more appropriate, because Charles bounces around at all price levels, from pho in the west end, to the upscale Asian joints in the northeast, to innumerable mid-level downtown bistros - though always with an eye to the price-worthiness of the place. I maintain he's at his best uncovering modest, unknown joints - though he's also pretty good at noticing the lapses at fancy spots that start going downhill after initial good notices. Dave Feldman, mentioned above, a guru of the Las Vegas board, is also value-oriented, though I think at a lower price level than Charles. But both offer useful perceptions. Though it must be exhausting to eat out just about every night. I suppose it's a dirty job, but......

                        Like tjr above, I'd also be intrigued to learn where Dave plans to nosh during his stay in Toronto - I'll assume he has already done his due diligence. Khao San Road is pretty good, though it doesn't have a sheer sweep of LOS's intriguingly vast menu, almost all executed imaginatively and satisfyingly. To my mind, once you've been to LOS, all Toronto Thai restos lose their lustre, though I've enjoyed specific menu items at many of them.

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

                        1. re: juno

                          Yay for value-oriented chow (and the term "value-oriented chow" ) ;-) I'm with you on that, juno. ;-)

                          Although it sounds like it isn't nearly as value-oriented as LOS (and it might not be possible for a value-oriented Thai resto like LOS to operate in TO), Khao San Road still fits into my idea of "value-oriented chow", especially when you take the average restaurant prices for reasonably decent chow in the Entertainment District into consideration. It's easy to pay too much for a mediocre meal in the Entertainment District.

                          In case anyone reading this thread is playing bridge at the Tournament this week, other "value-oriented chow" (for me, "value-oriented chow" would mean Mains that cost less than $20 in the Entertainment District) within a 15 minute walk of the Sheraton, would include Ravi Soups, Trimurti, Babur, Peter Pan, Jules and Queen Mother (KSR has a higher value index/ more bang for the buck, than QM for me). Some of the old school Chinatown favourites located on Spadina would be within a 20 minute walk of the Sheraton. So far, my bridge-playing visitor, who is playing and dining with other value-oriented chow-loving bridge players, has dined at Mercatto and Queen Mother.

                          1. re: juno

                            Hi juno,

                            I am not an expert in Thai food but love the food at Khao San Road. I really want to learn why there is such a big gap in the food at Khao san Road and LOS.

                            Obviously, there is no match on the number of items, LOS has like 100 items on their menu. And you mention it is what a "true Thai menu" looks like, does it mean those food menu at a good restaurant in Thailand all look like that with 100 items in there ?

                            Other than the number of items in their menu, in terms of quality for those items that are similar or offered by both restaurants, do you think it is not even close too as what you mentioned in your first post ? Any more specific example for those items you have tried in both restaurants ? Is the curry at Khao San Road not even close to those at LOS ?

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Kind of difficult to do that taste test! Even if I could convince someone visiting Vegas to bring me some take-out from LOS, I don't think that the Thai take-out would get past customs and/or the sniffer beagles at Pearson! And vice versa, I don't think I'd want to try smuggling take-out KSR into the US of A!

                              1. re: prima

                                I am not sure about you, but I guess as an adult, you can remember what you have tasted and do the comparison. Otherwise, why there are some people here saying food at KSR is better and some say LOS is better. Like, I have taste har gow in restaurant A last week and think it is much better than what I taste today in restaurant B because .....

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  It was a joke, skylineR33! :-)

                                  LIghten up! Sniffer beagles! Funny, ha ha ha!!!

                                  Didn't mean to yank your chain.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    Why joke ? I am serious on this. I want to know why the curry at KSR which I love is at such a low level !!!

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      ;-) I love the curry at KSR, too.

                                      Even if you're serious about KSR's curry, I don't see a problem with (jokingly) working out that a hypothetical taste test won't work, unless Chowhounds can get past the issues at Customs.

                                      I think this Board should be a happy place, including jokes with people who do or do not agree with your assessment of a curry's worth. ;-) As I said, I like the curry at KSR. After a visit to Linda last night, I'm reminded that KSR serves my favourite curry in the city, even though I didn't do a side-by-side taste test, and the 2 restaurants offer different dishes, and different menus, at different price points.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        Now Linda is a different story, I personally found it slip in quality a lots lately. Everything is watery there, no taste, just lack that kick from what I expect from a Thai dish.

                                        I wish I can bring back trays of uni from Japan too.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          Ahem. Could I break in here? I've never done a taste test comparing the nosh at LOS with what I can find in Toronto's Thai restos, for a good reason: when I walk into LOS, I'm looking for tastes I can't find in Toronto. So I never bother ordering standard-issue dishes easily available back home. I'll order from LOS's distinctive and separate Northern Menu, for example, most dishes of which you won't find in Toronto. The original query on this thread - innocently broached by kagemusha49 - was: is there a Thai resto in Toronto similar to LOS in Las Vegas. My answer remains: no, not even close. Some Thai joints here may do the odd dish or two very well - KCR's curries, for example - but none knocks so many imaginative menu items out of the park more often than LOS. With the breadth of its menu, you can eat there dozens of times and be delighted by new tastes every time. No doubt the Thai spots here, many of which are family run, can't afford to do a wide-ranging menu like LOS, - but, if I recall, LOS started as a modest, family-run joint as well, attracted locals and visitors alike to the crummy plaza it resides in, and has long been regarded as the best Thai resto in North America. Though with its modest prices and rickety atmosphere, it still feels like a family-run joint.

                                          1. re: juno

                                            Well I believe kagemusha49 is just looking for a great quality Thai restaurant to have a dinner with his son, he is not saying he wants a big variety which he can go there dozens of time with 100s of items to explore. Looks like you need to visit KSR first to come up with a true comparison whether it's quality is as good as the one you found in Vegas.

              2. If you want Thai food near your location in Toronto the choices are Khao San Road , Salad King on Yonge & Dundas and Bangkok Garden on Elm St. I am not saying any is as good as you are looking for as I have never been to LOS But I have had good meals at each. Choose one and decide for yourself, then report back.

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                Bangkok Garden
                18 Elm Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1G7, CA

                Salad King
                340 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B1R7, CA

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

                1. My fave Thai place is Satay on the Road on Avenue Rd. Everything is always delivered pipping hot and of course, delicious. I have not been to this Las Vegas place you speak of but will when I go to Vegas next. Good luck!

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                  Satay on the Road
                  2003 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                  1. I'm definitely planning on hitting up Khao San Road on this trip. Thai food isn't so great in Manhattan, where I live, so my interest is more than academic.

                    I did have my first real meal of the trip tonight -- Banu. I went with a large group and by and large we liked it quite a bit, although the potato salad wasn't a hit and the beet salad not much different from a hotel restaurant. But the marinated grilled meats were good, I liked the eggplant salad (the whey paste made it stand out from other preparations I've tried), and the koobideh was delicious. Service was warm and friendly. Not a life-changing event, but most satisfying.

                    Hoping to find something good for tonight.

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                    Banu
                    777 Queen St West, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1, CA

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

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      Did you have the lamb testicles? Go to Woodlot or the Black Hoof.

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                      The Black Hoof
                      928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                      1. re: iMarilyn

                        Nope, no lamb testicles. Black Hoof is on radar but not possible for tonight. I think we are going to do Rashnaa, although timing will be tight.

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                        Rashnaa
                        307 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4X1H2, CA

                        The Black Hoof
                        928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                          Might also want to consider Chinese Traditional Buns (which serves more than just buns, such as their Xian cured pork meat sandwich aka Chinese hamburgers http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6629...), a hole-in-the-wall down some steps just west of Dundas & Spadina in Chinatown, which is within a brisk 20 minute walk of the Sheraton, if your timing is too tight for Rashnaa.

                          -----
                          Chinese Traditional Buns
                          536 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                          Rashnaa
                          307 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4X1H2, CA

                          1. re: prima

                            Thanks for the tip, prima, but we did end up at Rashnaa and most of us loved the place (I was one of them). On the Southern Indian side, I so appreciated the sourness of the dosa (it was on the soggy side, although a friend's masala dosa had a little crispness), that care was taken with both the sambar and coconut chutneys. The side dish of eggplant that came with the dosas were delicious. On the Sri Lankan side, the beef rolls were probably the biggest hit, as were the spicy chicken dishes (I preferred an asked-for very spicy chicken curry to the devil chicken), but the khotu rotty was comfort food at its best, and a new dish to me (I had it with mutton and asked for it very spicy). I didn't think the vermicelli dishes were as strong. Portions were huge and the service was friendly and gracious, although the food was a little slow coming out of the kitchen.

                            Rashnaa exceeded my expectations, and the blending of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian is a natural, although I've never encountered it before. Thanks for the tip, Chowhounds. A bunch of bridge-player friends of mine went to Khao San Road tonight. I'll report back.

                            -----
                            Rashnaa
                            307 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4X1H2, CA