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May 28, 2014 10:42 AM

A delicious authentic 'Real McCoy' Thai chowmeet at Khao San Road

A quick journey into some local food blogs that feature reviews on the Toronto's Thai food scene will land you mostly into the usual pools of red, green and yellow curries, Pad Thai and Tom Yum Kung Soup. However, just as Italian food has more to meet the eyes ( and mouth ) than just your typical Pizzas, Pastas and Minestrone soup. Authentic Thai cuisine can offer a whole spectrum of amazing taste sensation and textural adventure!

Yesterday evening, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a chowmeet at one of Toronto's busiest table - Khao San Road. The meal was specially arranged by the friendly owner to provide us with the most authentic Thai food experience possible. Result was a delightful evening of navigating through oceans of interesting taste and textural sensation on the palette.

Hand carried out individually to our table by the talented Lady Chef, all the dishes were adventurous, different, aromatic and very tasty. Out went the usual generic mother sauce, which nowadays, overly complacent chefs just added chilies, turmeric...etc to create the desired color effect. In came, for our dishes, uniquely flavored special sauces that were lovingly hand crafted to create distinctive and individual taste and character. The balance of sweet, sour and degree of spiciness in almost all the dishes was near flawless. As one of our most seasoned chowhounder- Estufarian likes to say, the food also offers 'components that created delightful textural inter-play'!

Based on my rusty and half intoxicated memory ( food was paired with beer and a fine array of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir ), I think we had the following dishes? :D

- Crispy sour pork ribs with sticky rice.

- 'Tempura' lightly battered Morning Glory with Mint sauce dip

- Crunchy Squash Fritters with sweet Tamarind sauce

- Beef and Crispy Rice Salad

- Beef Shank and Potato Massaman Curry

- 'Sukiyaki' Han

- 'Drunken' Noodles with Prawns

- Some type of spicy minced pork?

- Dessert of Mango with sticky rice and house made ice-cream

With the food, fellow hound Estufarian provided a gorgeous bottle of off dry Dr. Loosen 'Eroica' Washington State Riesling and Mondavi Reserve Pinot Noir whilst for dessert, I chipped in half bottles of Henry of Pelham 1992 and 1993 Riesling Ice Wine.

My favorites of the evening were definitely the Beef Shank curry, Sour baby Pork Ribs and the Drunken Noodles. The Minced pork dish I found a bit one dimensional and dry. But then, I was also half drunk to lend any credible opinion! Ha!

Lastly, though the inherent spicy nature of most dishes and sauces calls for pairing with Beer, I found Riesling is another near perfect pairing candidate.

Once again. great food, fine wine and wonderful company resulted in a most delightful and enjoyable evening!

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  1. So are you saying that the owner had the chef cook the food the right way (authentic) just for your table as opposed to the generic complacent dishes that everyone else at their restaurant usually gets?

    P.S. Suprised there were no New Delhi Smoked Paneer Burgers or Cakeholes on the menu...

    11 Replies
    1. re: pourboi

      No! No! NO! I think you misinterpreted me. Thousand apologies for being vague!

      My 'generic complacent dishes' reference applies to offerings by some, if not most average Thai places in town NOT KSR.. IMO, KSR's food is as authentic as one can get in Toronto and more than a step up than those average ones.
      Furthermore, I believe some of the dishes we had were off the menu item. { This is not uncommon since past chowmeets I organized ( as well as the upcoming Casa Victoria Roasted Suckling pig chowmeet ) also featured pre-arranged off the menu items upon consultation with the chefs.

      Hope my clarification helps?!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Can I ask how much this meal cost? and how many people attended?

        1. re: pourboi

          i had asked each to pay $50. but based on charles sharing his special wines with me i called it even. tho to be fair i probably ended up the winner in that transaction :)

          - khao san road

          1. re: KhaoSanRoad

            My pleasure ' Aquavit fan' friend!
            I think with your food, the wine and the company, everyone came out a winner yesterday night!!

          2. re: pourboi

            9 people shared the food and wine.

        2. re: pourboi

          This. The food looks great, but it looks like most people in Toronto will still be congregating around "...the usual pools of red, green and yellow curries, Pad Thai and Tom Yum Kung Soup."

          Maybe Charles can convince the owner to introduce more of these authentic dishes?!

          1. re: GeeDee

            actually 7 of 9 dishes served were from the dinner menu that night and the other 2 were recently featured as specials.

            - khao san road

            1. re: KhaoSanRoad

              Are the pork ribs and morning glory dishes the specials? I don't recall being served shank with the beef curries before!

              1. re: GeeDee

                correct. as for the beef shank in the massaman it has been an option for a long time upon patron request at an extra charge.

                - khao san road

                1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                  Good to know! Any other "off menu" specials a 'hounder might want to know about?!

                  1. re: GeeDee

                    ha! we removed the "street style" pad thai from the menu, but those that loved it still order it.

                    we have no intent of creating a secret menu and depending on server or manager or if Chef Top is on duty some requests may happen, some denied. it cant hurt to ask, but dont be surprised if granted one night and denied the next. what in on menu is what we serve :P

                    - khao san road

        3. The dry minced pork dish looks like laab (or larb or laap, depending on how you translate it). It's a classic Isaan Thai prep. You sometimes see it with catfish as well.

          1. Thanks for the review Charles. Curiously, why does KSR receive so much recognition for essentially copying Nuit's recipes (after her departure) while Sukothai goes relatively unmentioned - have they significantly changed their menu since?

            Am I the only one who found KSR portion size and quality slightly declined since Nuit's departure?

            Final point - I did not know that Dr. Loosen has vineyards in Washington State!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Apprentice

              None of these restaurants are about innovation so much as they are about cooking relatively traditional Thai dishes. It would probably be wrong to call the recipes at KSR anyone's recipes - they're are fairly traditional Thai dishes. It's like saying that duck confit or bouillabaisse are any one person's recipe.

              I don't particularly love any Thai restaurant in Toronto, however.

              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                That's a fair point. Also I should concede - I guess it doesn't matter whose recipes they are using, if they are executing well and satisfying most people's taste buds that's all that matters.

            2. Charles - that "Some type of spicy minced pork?" dish - was it served warm or cold, and what did it taste like?

              If it's warm/hot, it could be "Pad Kaprao Moo Sap", minced pork with basil, flavoured with garlic & fish sauce. It's a Bangkok dish.

              But if it's served at room temperature, it could be "Larb Moo" from North-east Thailand. Larb moo would include pounded, toasted rice, shallots, lots of chillis, lime, cilantro and mint leaves.

              3 Replies
              1. re: klyeoh

                Wow!! You are following me all the way from KL!!
                As for your question, best left to Khao San Road to provide you with the correct answer!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  kua gling moo. its a dry curry served hot. heavy in fresh turmeric, garlic, black pepper, lime leaf and of course chili.

                  we normally serve on a bed of rice. in the bowl, unfortunately, the saffron hued "juices" hide at the bottom instead of being mopped up by the rice.

                  - khao san road

                  1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                    Thanks, so it's a Southern Thai rendition. I do like คั่วกลิ้งหมู but hard to come by even in Singapore or Malaysia.

              2. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail :) Looks like a great meal though!