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Feb 5, 2013 10:25 AM

Most AUTHENTIC Thai food in Montreal

I just finished a quick search for Thai food in Montreal and read through the discussion about the "best" Thai food. The latest post is about 2 years old, and also it doesn't address the exact question I'm looking for.

I came back from Thailand 2 days ago and I've started experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Many of the local Thai restaurants are very good, but have (almost necessarily) been subjected to local influence. There is also the issue that it is difficult to create an authentic dish when faced with limited authentic ingredients.

Somehow, the dishes in Thailand perfectly balanced sweet, spicy, and savoury - but did it as a mosaic instead of a melting pot. Each of the flavours were independently prominent instead of just fusing into one flavour. Does that make sense?

If someone understands what I'm trying to say and can recommend a restaurant that manages to achieve that balance, I would be grateful to know about it.

Just to re-emphasize: I'm looking for authenticity, not just "best".

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  1. Also I haven't tried it personally, I think the new Chak Wow food delivery service might be what you are looking for (hopefully you live in Mile-End!)

    14 Replies
    1. re: unlaced

      Unfortunately I have hipster food snobbery without the address to back it up. Luckily I'm close, though.

      That does look like what I'm trying to find. I'll report back after tasting it.

      1. re: unlaced

        Dear Unlaced,
        You are my new hero. Chak Wow was many kinds of amazing. Thanks for hitting the nail right on the head.

        1. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

          Did you do pick-up since they don't deliver in your area? Where are they located?

          1. re: hungryann

            They're on Beaubien, a couple blocks east of St-Laurent.
            When I gave my location, they were more than happy to meet up at the edge of their delivery zone closest to me for food pickup.
            As you probably know, their delivery is one person on a bicycle, so at this time of year its especially understandable that they want to keep to their limits.
            If you're in the same situation as me, just message them to work out a drop-off point that works for both of you.

        2. re: unlaced

          So after reading about them here I started following them on facebook. Unfortunately due to our schedules we usually only order take out on Sun/Mon. Well luckily this week we had an opportunity today (Wed) and we couldn't wait to try Chak Wow. They have just moved location a bit more south and when I gave them my address they were more than happy to deliver to me - even though I am not technically mile end (in the plateau though). They were extremely helpful and friendly on the phone. We ordered a choice of dumpling (veg or pork), salad (green papaya I believe), stir fry (it was green beans) and curry (beef penang), and 2 cookies. The grand total was $30 (not including tip). There was plenty of food for 2 hungry people. The food was phenomenal. There was not one 'sour' not except those to be expected in Thai cuisine. It was without a doubt the best Thai food we have tried in Montreal. No overly sugary taste, lots of spice, but spice developped from layers of flavour, not just hot peppers thrown in at the last minute. We will be repeating the experience as often as our wallets and schedules permit!!!!!!

          1. re: rakeypakey

            What are your cross streets if I may ask? I'm on the Plateau, too, although below Prince-Arthur. But who knows.

            1. re: Shattered

              We're a little bit more north at just below Mont-Royal x St. Laurent. I called and they were very helpful. You can always come in to their zone to pick up :) It's definitely worth it!!

              1. re: rakeypakey

                I'm curious. So you just went on some corner in their zone and waited for the delivery? Or do they have a address to go to...

                1. re: SourberryLily

                  If you're outside their zone, you have 2 options:

                  1. Pick up directly from their location (yes, they do have an address).
                  2. Rendez-vous at a meeting point (which can be some corner in their zone).

                  I opt for pick up since I have a car and it just seems simpler. When you message them with your order, let them know you want to pick up, and they'll give you their address.

                  I've never done the meeting thing, but it was offered to me. Instead of going all the way to their kitchen, they can bring your food closer. I guess if you're on foot or bike it's easier than doing the entire trek yourself. They have a delivery schedule (since it's only one person on bicycle) and can add in an arbitrary location in their zone that's convenient for you to meet them. They'll be more than happy to work out an arrangement that's mutually convenient.

                  1. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

                    I called them to find out their pick-up address. It's at Drolet & Boucher, just NW of Laurier & St-Denis / metro Laurier. They said orders should be placed by mid-afternoon, and they're only open Wed-Sat from 5-8 p.m.

            2. re: rakeypakey

              I'm just above Prince-Arthur. Please tell!!

              1. re: picklebird

                I would be surprised, they just do Mile-End and Petite-Italie. But best way to know is by asking them on Facebook, they answer pretty fast.

              2. re: rakeypakey

                Tried Chak Wow for the first time tonight. We had the chicken curry, veggie stir fry and papaya salad. All awesome. What you notice is the flavour profile just is different. No whack of sugar or salt which is so common in other places food. I'm no authority on authentic Thai cuisine but this tasted....authentic.Try it out, very friendly bicycle service. Just a fun and delicious option to have.

            3. I think you will be disappointed if you compare to what you had in Thailand. The best and most authentic for me so far has been Chao Phraya but it's quite pricy to make it a regular stop.

              1. Are you talking about 'authentic' street food or 'authentic' high end Thai, or 'authentic' diner type Thai food?

                9 Replies
                1. re: williej

                  The Leftenant is my husband and we both just got back from Thailand so I feel like I can answer your question willie. He's looking for Thai street food but if fancy has better options (i.e., if paying more = more authentic) we'd be willing to go in that direction.

                  Alternatively, where would I find the best Thai ingredients so that I can make the Leftenant happy by doing it myself? Is there anywhere to get fresh hot peppers or fresh grated coconut (that can be squeezed for coconut cream) or baby corn not in a can or thick soya sauce. etc.?

                  1. re: captain_vegetable

                    Most ingredients can be found in and around most markets, in particular JTM or Atwater.

                    Fresh hot peppers should be easy to find all year long (small bird pepper).
                    Fresh coconut can also be easy to find either at the markets or at bigger asian stores (but they might not be as fresh as what can be found in Thailand !)
                    Baby corn, I've not seen that outside of the canned ones, but I've not looked for them ... so YMMV.
                    Thick Soy sauce , probably can be found at asian markets, or maybe to it yourself from regular soy sauce

                    Good luck

                    1. re: captain_vegetable

                      I bought fresh hot red peppers in IGA in Nuns Island. They are also available at the Atwater and JT markets. I have seen thick soya sauce in Chinatown and in many fruit markets around town. Les douceurs de marche in Atwater Market should also have it.

                      I like the Galangal in Outremont. It is regional Thai cooking (I think from the northwest) but it might not be as 'authentic' as you want it.

                      1. re: williej

                        I second Galangal, but I also have serious reservations about its authenticity. It was very sweet, though this tends to be a western adaptation (and maybe why I like it).

                      2. re: captain_vegetable

                        Marché Hawai in VSL has a large selection, and they (currently). There is an entire aisle dedicated to thai pastes and sauces.
                        Also have a lot of fresh, asian produce. It is my regular grocery so i can vouch for fresh hot peppers and fresh coconut. They have frozen coconut and many types of coconut creams as well.

                        For restaurants, hmm... The closest i have found is Restaurant Thailande, but i have not been there in ages!

                      3. re: williej

                        Hey Willie,

                        Frankly, I'll take what I can get.

                        At the risk of disagreeing with my wife (and superior officer), I think that my primary goal would be diner-type thai food. Street food was typically grilled meats, pad thai or occasional soup (depending on geographic location). While those would be nice, I think that my primary goal is the fare found in small hole-in-the-wall restaurants such as basic curries, stir-frys, noodle dishes or soups.

                        1. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

                          There's some pretty decent Singaporean street food-type grub at a brand new hole-in-the-wall, Satay Brothers (on St. Jacques, not at the Atwater Market). I won't say it's the best I've had, and it's fairly hipsterified, but it could be close to what you're looking for. Since singaporean cuise really is just an amalgamation of thai, malaysia, indonesian, etc food, some dishes may be similar to what you had off a cart in Bangkok.

                          1. re: Fintastic

                            Sorry, Fintastic, equating Singapore = Thai food is like me advising a fellow Singaporean here to equate French = English food.

                            1. re: makanputra

                              I was aiming to equate street food to street food more than Singaporean to Thai. There is no doubt that there are several dishes common to both cuisines and some of those are offered by food carts/stalls. If someone were seeking blood sausage I might similarly recommend British restaurants here in place of French.

                              If your city's offering of Thai food was as terrible as that of montreal you might also make the recommendation I did.

                      4. Anybody tried C Thaï on St-Laurent (in Petite-Italie)? I've heard only good things about it but have yet to try it. First saw it on this site :

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Glaff

                          Have been twice, and sadly, it doesn't really rise above the neutered fare of the status quo. At the moment, Chak Wow is our only bright light. Maybe he'll expand to a brick and mortar place some day! That said, hole-in-the-wall Bahn Mi shop Nha Trang on Jean Talon has a unexpectedly good pad thai that sidesteps the cloyingly sweet profile we're usually thrown.

                          On another note, if you're ever in NYC, it's worth a trip to Queens for some of the best Thai food in North America: Chao Thai, 85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens NY 11373, 718-424-4999

                        2. I want to thank everybody who has contributed to this thread, particularly Unlaced, who was the first to suggest Chak Wow. Since first trying them, I have ordered every week except once. Everything they make is spectacular and manages to hit the amazing balance that I became accustomed to in Thailand.

                          Penang curry was always a favourite of mine and I was nervous about being disappointed, but Chak Wow's Penang may be one of the greatest dishes I've ever eaten. The green curry was amazing (and the fish balls in particular were outstanding). I've also had the chicken with holy basil and the Kaeng Hung Lae, both of which were, well, perfect. The regular menu items (papaya salad and morning glory) are both so good that I get both every time I order, because the thought of getting only one or the other saddens me. I'm not a big dumpling guy, but they're also great.


                          The question about delivery zone has come up a few times recently. As the person who started this thread, I felt a certain responsibility to find the answer, so I messaged them to find out their exact limits:

                          ***Please note that Chak Wow recently moved, so the delivery zone has changed. They are also likely to move again in the following months, so the delivery zone will again change.***

                          Furthermore: The limits are not a hard-set delineation. After all, it's just one person on a bike. Regardless of whether you are in or out of the zone, you need to contact them to work out the delivery. They are super friendly and helpful. If you are outside the limits, they will be more than happy to work out a rendezvous place and time within their zone. Or, of course, you can always just pick up directly from them.

                          If you have any uncertainties, just message them directly and they'll be more than happy to answer:

                          Their (fuzzy & unofficial) limits are:
                          North: Jean-Talon
                          South: Mont-Royal
                          East: Christophe Colomb
                          West: Querbes

                          While I'm being comprehensive, I may as well add:
                          - Open 5-8 on Wed-Sat
                          - Try to order well in advance (aim for the day before or morning of) since there is only one chef and they do run out of orders on busy nights.

                          Sorry this post is so long. I'm so hungry now...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

                            Is it possible to get their food without cilantro or does everything have it in it? (Some the pics on the facebook site definitely have the dreaded herb in the photo. I am part of the population with a disposition AGAINST any cilantro or hint of its taste).

                            1. re: williej

                              Cilantro, along with Cumin, happen to be my favourite flavours. Your disposition saddens me.

                              While I believe the papaya salad has some (not prominent) cilantro and the Pad Pak Boong (morning glory) has none, I can assure you the dumplings don't. As for the curries, it will vary week to week.

                              Only way to know 100% is to message them, but I think there should be options for you. No promises, though.

                              1. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

                                Nothing I can do about my apparently has been found to have genetic causes. I love cumin, and the coriander seed is no problem. Thanks for the warning about the papaya salad; the issue is not prominence, it is the fact that any little bit of cilantro in something is verboten for me (people have told me that, after tasting it, there is no cilantro in a dish; yet my tongue can detect it). I had a soup at the Korean place above misaya ramen on Bishop last week. There were two or three leaves of the dread herb (as far as I know, Korean food never has cilantro in it) and I couldnt eat the soup anymore once my tastebuds touched it!

                                What I really hate is when chefs personally love cilantro and then put it every main course and appetizer! Sheesh!

                                I messaged the Thai place last night; no reply as yet.

                            2. re: Leftenant_Vegetable

                              If outside the delivery zone, you can pick-up from their place at Drolet & Boucher (just NW of Laurier & St-Denis). And the guy running it told me ordering by mid-afternoon for same day is fine.