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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!

                1. Wow, the comments on this are extensive before I even had a chance to post.

                  Taking those comments into account, let it be stated that I was a fan of Nuit & Jeff before Khao San Road. And I am now a fan of Khao San Road (without Nuit & Jeff). Ultimately, it’s what’s on the plate that counts – and I had Khao San Road in my top 10 list in the voting back in January. I don’t perceive any drop in quality ‘since the breakup’ – actually I see more diversity in the dishes offered. We still have a choice and my feet end up more often at Khao San Road.

                  What impressed me most about the dinner (and the dinner was planned as a ‘special’ for an out-of-town guest – I was familiar with the visitor for various reasons, so was honoured to be invited) was the range of styles and flavours (already mentioned by Charles). Essentially every dish was different in flavour, ingredients and texture. Having eaten Thai food countless times (at least half a dozen trips to Thailand) and having bemoaned the lack of choices in Toronto, maybe 25 years ago, we are now experiencing Thai food here that represents a ‘golden age’. And the prices are a bargain too.

                  ‘Back in the day’ I was a regular at the first two Thai restaurants in Toronto (Bangkok Garden, sadly in decline; and Thai Shan Inn (when Wandee Young was the cook; and it still makes a mean Tom Yum Goong, although the Pad Thai is ketchupy)). Then, I (we all?) suffered through the various members of the ‘second-wave’ (back when Immigration Canada wouldn’t allow Thai chefs as they were taking jobs away from Canadian chefs). My best meals were the upscale ones at hotels in Bangkok, where the full potential of Thai cooking was displayed although, back then, the street Thai food (typically one dish per vendor) was also spectacular.
                  However, my last two visits to Bangkok found a precipitous decline in street food quality (or maybe I just couldn’t locate the best places) – greasy and so-so ingredients. And the hotels were more about décor than what appeared on the plate. In my travels I haven’t even tried the ‘buzzy’ Thai restaurants (e.g. Kiin Kiin inCopenhagen), as the choice and value here are now so good.

                  I had sampled most of the dishes before – although the sour pork dish was new to me. But being able to try so many dishes at the same time clearly (for me) illustrated how wide the range of styles and flavours really are. I regularly think of (and seek out) different styles of ‘Chinese’ food and ‘Indian’ food, but, until this meal, hadn’t really thought of Thai dishes in the same broad category – more as a ‘single’ cuisine with a few regional dishes (e.g. Northern/Issan). Clearly my education was lacking.
                  I also appreciated the cucumber spears, which I used as a palate cleanser between courses (again, never had this before at Khao San Road, although, having recently returned from 18 days in Turkey, I had been overloaded with cucumber, which there is served with all meals – including breakfast).

                  A comment on the wines (the ones I brought were all US in honour of the out-of-towner). I had seen the menu in advance and chose the pinot (1987) to go with the beef dish.
                  The Riesling (Eroica) is made from grapes grown by Chateau Ste Michelle (Washington State) but the vinification is supervised by Dr Loosen (from the Mosel) – it’s a joint venture. I first tried it on a visit to the winery. It is occasionally available in Vintages, and usually available as a consignment product (must buy in case lots). Some restaurants have it too (I last saw it at Splendido, but don’t know if it’s on their current list). I had originally intended to bring an Ontario Riesling (Charles Baker) but as Charles was bringing two Ontario rieslings anyway, I switched to the US theme.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: estufarian

                    I may be drifting off topic, but I found the Thai food I had last year in Bangkok and around Chiang Mai to be mind blowing - a clear step up from the best I've had in North America. Especially the Isaan and Lanna cooking in Chiang Mai. Less so in the south, but still excellent.

                    As for the Toronto options, they're much better than what we used to have, but I don't rate them alongside Sripraphai or Uncle Boon's in NYC or, Little Serow in Washington (which is the best Thai I've had in North America).

                    I did really like the Khao Soi I had at KSR this weekend (for those not keeping score, not as part of the chowhound group), however.

                    1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                      There's a restaurant called Lemongrass in Chiang Mai, in the Night Market area. The best Thai food I have eaten. If you are in CM, do yourself a favour and go there. It's not a fancy place or anything.

                      1. re: ManAbout

                        I haven't eaten at lemongrass - but have eaten in the night market in Chiang Mai.
                        I guess I was unlucky as I found the food there overly greasy. I'd have to look up the names of the places I ate (but I did my Chowhound research in advance). But I do recall that the food in Lao was more memorable (specifically Luang Prabang, but I ate in several places en-route). Somewhere there's a report... but I can't find it using Search.

                        On that trip my favourite dish was a deep-fried Banana Blossom - again, memory fails as to exactly where it was, but it was further south.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Way off topic, but I found that the main Chiang Mai night market was generally not good. Lots of the stuff was bad. Was only able to find two decent dishes there - grilled chicken and a pad thai. Yup.

                          The better market was by far the market near the south gate, where there were a wider range of vendors the foods weren't catered to a tourist market. The market near the university is also excellent.

                          The best meal I had was probably at Khao Soi Lam Duan, where the khao soi was not only benchmark, but the fermented sausage, nam prik, satay and a soup with congealed chicken blood were all either new to me or the best version of the dish I'd ever had.

                          1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                            I hear you and I agree about the night market, but you have to go to Lemongrass, trust me on this one. This is their Penang curry.

                    2. re: estufarian

                      Thank you for the reply Estufarian and the additional information on the wine. As a side, I have enjoyed Ste. Michelle's Chardonnay - can't remember the year though.

                      Sadistick - I believe KSR made CH's top 10 list in January, in fact I think it was #1! So the odds of self-promotion IMO are very low, given that this restaurant is well enjoyed by the CH community, well before this dinner took place.

                      1. re: Apprentice

                        And it is the restaurant owned by the frequent chowhound poster who purposly spread false information to the media about a new restaurant along with posting sexist and borderline racist tweets under the "after the fact" guise of "its just a joke" and has been "laying low" on CH ever since... maybe that fiasco did affect his business?

                        1. re: pourboi

                          The idea that that "fiasco" -- which was only really followed by a handful of CH posters, and which most took to be the joke that it was -- would have any real impact on a successful restaurant is absurd.

                          1. re: pourboi

                            As someone who didn't think that the joke was funny and has no particular affinity for KSR (it's fine, good for Toronto Thai, but otherwise nothing special), I can assure you that it needs no help from a bunch of people on a message board for business.

                            I base this on the long wait for a table during Saturday lunch. And the wait for mid-week dinners. And the fact that I've only seen it empty when it's closed.

                        2. re: Apprentice

                          I don't think KSR was #1 since.. 2012? So not sure to what you're referring, even though I agree with your latter statement.

                          Bar Isabel won this year.

                      2. Great marketing ploy - invite some notable CHers to a dinner, anticipate subsequent postings, (hopefully) profit!

                        Either way, meal looks quite nice. Wines look/sound nicer.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Sadistick

                          Just a fact check here.

                          I'm a regular at Khao San Road anyway.

                          I was invited because of my existing relationship (on-line) with the 'guest'.

                          The price was clearly established ahead of time. The price/person was more than I've ever paid at Khao San Road as a 'regular' customer - but then the menu also was particularly attractive. I don't think it was intended as a 'loss leader'.

                          Not all guests were 'hounds.

                          However, I (and Charles) did post, so if Khao San Road also had that agenda, I was a willing participant.

                          9 people; only 2 posters (+ Khao San Road).
                          I'd be happy to assume I'm such an arbiter of taste that my views could potentially cause a crush at any restaurant!

                          1. re: estufarian

                            I would never judge the quality of any restaurant based on a special dinner in which the owner was a "guest" / partcipant. Especially when the intent was to impress some unknown mystery guest and where in the end the meal was given free.

                            I am sure if you were invited to dinner at McDonalds by the CEO of McDonalds you would get food that looks like their TV commercials instead of what the unwashed masses consume..

                            It is just human nature to put on your best for people that you want to impress... Otherwise Charles would have brought a box of Blue Nun wine... :-)

                              1. re: pourboi

                                Speaking of boxed wine, a friend recently pulled out a 'box like container' of I believe it was called 'big house red' or some such from California for a BBQ. Not too bad given the method of containment and preconceived notions.

                                1. re: pourboi

                                  Hi, I'm the "unknown mystery guest" from out of town (NYC, and fairly well known on the Manhattan CH board). Although I did not attend the dinner at KSR that was being organized so I could meet some very helpful and kind Hounds from this board (I had a delicious and charming lunch today at KSR, and was given tastes of both wines brought by Charles which were lovely), there was never any hint of any "marketing ploy", but rather the selection of an excellent restaurant near my hotel that would educate me as a novice in Thai food.

                                  I hope this sets the record straight.

                                  1. re: ellenost

                                    I never said it was a markeing ploy (others hinted at that) what I said is that judging a restaurant by how well it cooks food for special guests of the owner is not a good way to get a representation of how the food is the other 99.99% of the time.. This may or may not be the case here as I did not taste the food at the dinner I can not compare it to the food on the regular menu for the regular guests. But just the fact that it was a special menu just for those 9 guests with dishes that are not always available means that they took extra effort for that dinner.

                                    1. re: ellenost

                                      There is no debate as to the merit of the intentions of the owners of KSR.

                                      The fact remains however that this is a fantastic example of social media marketing.

                                2. re: Sadistick

                                  I seem to have heard of this restaurant before. I don't think it needs CH to drive patrons to its doors.

                                  1. re: Sadistick

                                    it's not that it was a marketing ploy - it was just pure elitism meant only to feed egos, not souls

                                    1. re: frogsteak

                                      Strangely, my ego wasn't full after this meal. But my gut was.
                                      As for soul...........

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        .....and then you laughed and laughed

                                    2. Fellow Hounds,
                                      The intention behind my posting this thread was to share my 'food' experience with you all. No more, no less! Whether the food was prepared with special effort and attention by the chef or received behind the scene direction by the owner...etc. To me its irrelevant, since Good food is still Good food! That's the reason I attached photos and description of the dishes as well - to share!
                                      So rather than 'guessing' about motives behind this chowdown gathering, let's get back on course and talk and focus on food instead!

                                      BTW, the upcoming Chowmeet I am organizing at Casa Victoria will again be a 'pre-arranged' affair. The chef promised to 'kick-it-up-a-notch' for us group of foodies. I will be posting about that gathering as well. However, I would like to emphasize that, there are no 'motives' behind that meet other than my trying to bring a group of food lovers together to have a fun evening sharing great food and great company!

                                      8 Replies
                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          Agree! Is Charles not supposed to post on what sounds like a wonderful evening at KSR because the rest of us weren't invited??? Isn't the whole point to share exceptional food experiences?

                                          1. re: midtowngirl

                                            I don't care one way or the other about this dinner so I'll keep my opinion to myself but I did want to respond to midtowngirl...it was one the practice of CH to not allow the posting of reviews related to special/exclusive meals that are not widely available to the average diner. Obviously that has changed and for what it's worth, I am in favour of this change.

                                            1. re: justsayn

                                              But the dishes were off the current menu or recently offered as specials....available I guess to the masses.

                                        2. re: Charles Yu

                                          I think my only objection is using the term "chowmeet". I interpret that as something that was open to the board / organized via the board. I believe that was the term used in the past when people organized special outings open to all interested chowhounds.
                                          But that's obviously just my definition. I might find this type of posting obnoxious on some levels, but there's plenty to find obnoxious and above my paygrade on the board (Toronto and broader). Glad you had a nice dinner.

                                          1. re: julesrules

                                            Yeah, not really a "chowmeet" by how I understood the term, either.

                                            Still, I care not at all whether they had dishes available for the general public, or whether they flew in the ancient Imperial Thai Chef Brigade to do the cooking. A meal was presented and described, and all I want to do is look at it and vicariously experience it.

                                            The fact that 7 out of 9 dishes are actually on the regular menu is an additional welcome bonus piece of info.

                                            I really didn't find this posting obnoxious. Enthusiastic, yes.

                                            1. re: Pincus

                                              My understanding and interpretation of 'chowmeet' is that it is a generic and funky term that one can apply to meal gatherings involving a small number or a large group of chowhounds. As long as chowhounders are involved, the use of the term is valid?!
                                              The meal gathering can be an impromptu affair, pre-arranged dinner with advanced order or off menu items or just a group of us dropping in an establishment and ordering a la carte?!
                                              For the past 15+ years, I have used the term chowmeet in my postings to describe my one-on-one luncheons with chowhounder like skylineR33, my special pre-arranged group dinner here in Toronto, Hong Kong, New York and Singapore involving from 3 to 40+ hounds as well as a la carte meets like the one at Phil's BBQ a few years back.
                                              I have made postings on almost every meal However, none of those have attracted so much 'interesting' comments and attention?! Ha!

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Well, that's a good point. I guess as long as chowhounds are involved, there is a chowmeet.

                                                Now I'm tempted to organise one myself here.

                                        3. "Whether the food was prepared with special effort and attention by the chef or received behind the scene direction by the owner...etc. To me its irrelevant, since Good food is still Good food! "

                                          It might be irrelevant to YOU, but it is definitely relevant to us, because if that is the case, then we know not to expect the same quality of food on our own visit.

                                          28 Replies
                                          1. re: ManAbout

                                            From a post earlier in the thread
                                            "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: estufarian

                                              but this line is not included: [and the chef had no idea that these dishes were going to the owners table so they did not take extra care in the preparation or presentation]....

                                              Just like a food review... if a restaurant knows a table contains a food reviewer do you not think their meal will be given extra attention by the chef? How many times do you see a Toronto Life restaurant review with "staged" food and think wow that looks amazing then you go yourself and the presentation is no where near what was shown in the magazine?

                                              1. re: pourboi

                                                Man... you seriously need to make like a Disney Princess, and let it go.

                                                1. re: Michael N

                                                  Thanks I just got that song out of my head. Although love the turn of phrase!

                                                2. re: pourboi

                                                  Good grief. Charles deserves a little better from this board for the information he provides. He's a better man than me for taking the high road - especially after a silly, pathetic attack from frogsteak.

                                                3. re: estufarian

                                                  They can be on the dinner menu and still be prepared with special effort and attention for a select group, can they not? Those two statements are not mutually exclusive.

                                                  1. re: ManAbout

                                                    Indeed they are not. You're absolutely right (in theory).

                                                    But in a crowded restaurant (which Khao San Road usually is), it is stretching believability that they would somehow 'staff the kitchen differently' just for 1 (large) table. Realistically it's a specialized production line, which one interrupts at risk of chaos.

                                                    We possibly had 'special' treatment in that the chef herself (am I allowed to identify gender? - some people here seem to take offense at such identification) presented some dishes (and just who might have been cooking the subsequent dishes while the chef was visiting the dining room?). Except that's not unusual for me anyway, as I'm a regular.

                                                    What was 'special' (for me) was the opportunity to try so many different dishes in one meal - it enabled me to get a broader perspective on the possibilities and flavours in Thai Cuisine.

                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                      Take a look at what Charles said:

                                                      "Whether the food was prepared with special effort and attention by the chef or received behind the scene direction by the owner...etc. To me its irrelevant, since Good food is still Good food! "

                                                      I find it shocking that a senior member of the board would make such a statement. He is not arguing about whether the food was specially prepared or not, he is arguing that it is irrelevant. Seriously? Don't you think that a casual reader of the board would be well served with this information? It makes one wonder how many of the other "reviews" are the result of specially prepared meals.

                                                      1. re: ManAbout

                                                        Maybe if Charles weren't absolutely up-front and transparent about the circumstances of this particular meal you'd have a small sliver of a point, but he was and you don't.

                                                        This is seriously the worst thread in the history of this board. It's awful that one of the most insightful posters on this board is being treated this way, out of what I can only infer amounts to simple jealousy. I'm normally not crazy about the mods deleting posts, but this case I think they could delete everything but Charles' original post and we'd all be better for it.

                                                        1. re: Michael N

                                                          It's absolutely astounding in every context. KSR is an active member of this board. His posts are helpful, and he contributes a great deal as well. So now, because he's also a proprietor, he's not allowed to organize a Chowmeet of his own, and Charles isn't allowed to post a thread, the type of which he posts on a weekly basis? I don't think KSR stipulated to anyone, or Charles, that he had to post something. Nor do I see anyone complaining when Charles posts threads about his organized Chowmeets - and we all know that those restaurants treat the Chowhounders with extra care - yet no one has a problem with it whatsoever.

                                                          We're also all aware that KSR has lineups out the door every single day and night - and KSR supposedly did this for the marketing? He can barely accommodate all the amount of business he has now. The whole concept is laughable and completely absurd, not to mention - embarrassing for all of us.

                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                            I have never visited the restaurant or met the OP in person. All I can say is I always find his posts very informative and entertaining. And he seems to be someone who is very passionate about food.

                                                            Whether the meal is specially planned or not, I am sure any intelligent reader of this board can decide whether to visit the restaurant or not on his or her own. And the OP is not the only source in TO. One can also look for reviews on Yelp and any other numersous sources. To think one post has so much influence really underestimates the other readers of this board.

                                                            To see so many mean spirited comments about a harmless posts is very disappointing. I enjoy good food and read the boards for useful advice from other folks who want to share their experiences. I don't think some of the comments on this post reflects what the chowhound community is suppose to be about.

                                                            Everyone needs to be less judgemental and not take things so seriously.

                                                        2. re: ManAbout

                                                          To most of you who follow me, I have reviewed and posted on both fine dining and cheap 'hole-in-the-wall' food experiences. For the latter, I doubt if the owners care or even heard about 'chowhound'. If I enter one and tell them I am 'Charles Yu' from chowhound, most probably their reply will be 'Charles WHO??'!! I am only an average Joe who is passionate about food and like to post about 'special experiences' for sharing with fellow hounds. I am neither an influential food critic like the one for the New York times nor a famous TV personality easily recognizable. As such, I doubt I have been receiving special treatments or special meals from eating establishments?!

                                                          If one bothers to read all my 'chowmeet' review and postings, I have always pointed out up front that the meals were pre-arranged as well as which are the dishes requiring advanced order and/or off menu items. No where did I mention that those dishes can and will be replicated exact, if one just drop in at random!

                                                          I have posted on this board for almost 20 years and have written about chowmeets I organized for over 9. My trusted reviews have been regarded by almost all as being reliable. Never have my motives or integrity been questioned by fellow hounds?!

                                                          It saddened me to read about so much negative accusation pointed towards me for posting about a 'food experience' that I enjoyed and hoped to share.

                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                            So you're not a spokesperson for Prima Taste?

                                                            Just kidding. Ignore the BS.

                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                              I don't dispute your contribution. Nobody does.

                                                              But, I disagree with your assertion that the circumstances in which the food was prepared is irrelevant.

                                                              1. re: ManAbout

                                                                If a friend invites you to his home and cooked you a great tasting meal. Do you not thank and praise him on how good the food tasted but rather question him as to whether he eat like that normally?

                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                  If a friend invited me to dinner and I wanted to make a glowing tribute to the evening, I would post it on my personal blog, and not on a forum that is supposedly for objective restaurant reviews.

                                                                  1. re: ManAbout

                                                                    20 years posting on this forum and so far I haven't been told by moderators or am I aware that it is only for objective restaurant reviews?
                                                                    I thought as long as we are up front with our write up, we can talk about the food experience, the service, the wine and components forming the total 'chow experience'?
                                                                    Going back to my posting, I mainly talked and described about my food and dining experience of the night as I see it, giving praise to those area deserving a mention. Like the wine, the fine company and the good food.
                                                                    No where did I go out of my way to rate the restaurant like a Yelper or said its a must try destination and urges people to go?!

                                                                    1. re: ManAbout


                                                                      Please excuse me while I hold my sides in place.

                                                                      1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                        Indeed. The very notion of an "objective restaurant review" is laughable, and a complete oxymoron no less. Ever notice how you love certain dishes and other people hate them? Food is an intrinsically subjective experience.

                                                                        Mods: please, please, please just lock this thread and be done with it. It has long since passed the point of offering any value to anyone (and has basically become a broken record at this point, no less). It's only serving to make me slowly lose my faith in humanity.

                                                                        Charles: all but a very vocal minority very much appreciate your valuable contributions to this board (including this one). Just remember: haters gonna hate.

                                                                        1. re: Michael N

                                                                          objectivity separates reviewers and internet editorialists

                                                                            1. re: frogsteak

                                                                              You should see how the internet feels about restaurant reviewers and vice versa.

                                                                          1. re: ManAbout

                                                                            Restaurant reviews and opinions are inherently subjective.

                                                                        2. re: ManAbout

                                                                          It's irrelevant in this case. Charles was quite up front about the circumstances of this meal and I can't imagine anyone thinking they'd have the same experience or food on any given night. This was clearly a special meal served by the chef herself.

                                                                        3. re: Charles Yu

                                                                          No need to be "saddened". I think the majority of folks who read this board know and understand.

                                                                          Most of my friends who really enjoy food don't even know what chowhound is.

                                                                          I showed my teenagers this post and pics and they still are not interested in visiting KSR. Having travelled all over the world, the teenage foodies can think for themselves. They are just curious and fascinated how "some grown ups can be so uptight and mean over a trivial dinner" and talked about the bullying lecture at school. Something about the anomnyty of the internet ...

                                                                          Do not let the posts of a few bother you. I think like the others say - keep posting. I am sure if it breaks any rules, the moderators will shut it down ASAP.

                                                              2. Gotta love the drama on this board. It's what draws me back every single time.

                                                                1. Thanks for the write-up and photos Charles! I really liked the pork dish actually - but I made sure to spoon up the sauce from the bottom ;) It was lovely to meet everyone! Oh and I'm not sure the sauce for the morning glory had mint in it? I remember it had pork, tomatoes, and onions.

                                                                  1. The criticism is laying on thick.

                                                                    Charles (and anyone else) please keep posting these types of events, regardless if it's $10/pp or $100+/pp, whether or not they include CH guests, regular menu or exotic off menu items. I enjoy reading about these events. I hope others will agree.

                                                                    1. Interesting thread indeed. My experience at KSR is the food is decent but not out of the ordinary or special. Forget Thailand, my wife and I (plus our group of foodie friends) have had better Thai food in Toronto.

                                                                      So I do understand what pourboi, Sadistick and others are saying and when Charles' review includes such over the top superlatives as "Hand carried out individually to our table by the talented Lady Chef" or "most authentic Thai food experience possible," not to mention "whole spectrum of amazing taste sensation and textural adventure" and this overly glowing review should be questioned. I think that's all pourboi and others are calling out and they have a point.

                                                                      I have to say that KSR is #1 in its ability to use social media as part of their marketing strategy. It has been very effective and I think one would be naïve to think there isn't a marketing element here and it looks like both Chef Nuit and Charles clearly delivered on their tasks.

                                                                      Through the years we've been lucky enough to count as friends, owners of "famed" restaurants and there's no doubt in my mind that food served at "special invitations" are special even if it's the same stuff on the menu. I've never posted a review of these special dinners, but if I were to do that, I'd keep the superlatives to a minimum or risk being called out. But that's just me.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: syoung

                                                                          what thai restaurants do you like in GTA?

                                                                          1. re: syoung

                                                                            After having been internet free (thank god for cottages!) for a few days I return to see this thread exploded.

                                                                            I was not prepared to respond until I read syoung's post. Kudos for a succinct summation of the pertinent points above.

                                                                            1. re: syoung

                                                                              That is pretty standard Charles Yu-talk! Read a few of his reviews and the superlatives are always there!

                                                                            2. I did not ask, nor intend for charles to post about khao san road by inviting him.

                                                                              I have organized and attended "chowmeets" for 10 years. I do it to meet and share experiences with like-minded heathens.

                                                                              - khao san road

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                                                                'share experiences with like-minded heathens' - my reason for joining chowhound in the first place!!!.

                                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                  Too bad they're out to crucify you, father.

                                                                                2. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                                                                  Well now I'm going to have to try to change my handle to "like-minded-heathen"....

                                                                                3. By coincidence I was working near KSR today. I felt compelled to check them out again, given my previous mediocre experience.

                                                                                  The Khao Soi was as good as ever, perhaps my previous experience was just a "blip". I noticed they now offer an optional Thai pickled veg (cabbage) that adds a mild sour compliment to the dish - which I enjoyed. This restaurant is now back in my rotation for the entertainment district.

                                                                                  FWIW - The restaurant opens at 11:30am, at 11:56 there was only one table available. They are not starving for diners.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Apprentice

                                                                                    I stopped in to KSR last week and loved the Khao Soi. I lucked out that by dining solo, I was able to get the last spot at the bar. It was packed by 12:10 (very different than NYC where restaurants are fairly empty so early).

                                                                                  2. Charles, thanks for kicking off this debate – around 100 posts and possibly another 100 deleted (including some of mine)! Clearly this topic was of interest.

                                                                                    There have been ‘suggestions’ (some deleted) that this thread be locked. I COMPLETELY disagree. This is, after all, a discussion Board. To say we should cut off an “on-topic” discussion smacks of censorship to me. Even if I disagree completely with a poster, what entitles me to prevent that view being expressed (in theory at least).

                                                                                    The obvious exception is posts which contravene the ‘rules’ of the Board – and the moderators have exercised that right (of course we all know that Moderators are always wrong!). Thus no personal attacks – and certain posters may need reminding that we ‘discuss the Chow, not the Hound’.

                                                                                    I recognise there’s an issue here of “should ‘special’ or ‘comped’ meals be reviewed”? I think that point is better discussed on the General Topics Board (with a link from the originating Board). For me, a ‘full declaration’ is sufficient – it’s the shills and other non-genuine boosterism that we need to be on the lookout for and stand up against, when detected.

                                                                                    In this thread, Charles has written in a manner that’s totally in character. Khao San Road has commented with full disclosure (as far as I can see). I can draw my own conclusions.

                                                                                    And I find Chowhound, with its ongoing discussions, to be far more informative than ‘tweets or yelps or .. similar’, which, by their nature are short and not particularly informative. I don’t ignore them either, but I base more of my decisions on rational comment and discussion.

                                                                                    So let the debate continue, if necessary. I prefer points to be made politely, but not everyone has the same linguistic skills, or preferences or cultural norms.
                                                                                    And thanks to everyone who contributed.