It would be great to find a food/restaurant experience that comes close to the kind of eating that I found in Thailand. The best place I've eaten my whole life! We seem to have so many restaurants now doing Thai food which is great but the atmosphere seems to be too...gentle...compared to what I remember.
I want to find a place where you sit down at rickety chairs and tables in a sparse, oppressively hot and humid environment (this could be in Toronto-just dont put on the AC in summertime), and where a lack of comforts of the dining room is made up by food which is fresh, real, vivid and completes a sensory assault.
Does anyone out there know what I am talking about? And if you do, is there such a place here? Here's the kicker: would you be willing to share this secret?
Thai Shan Inn is a Toronto favorite. a "hole-in-the-wall" place that serves great pad thai.
2039 Eglinton W, 784-1491
Try Ban Vanipha (Dundas W and Denison; 638 Dundas W).
I've lived in southeast Asia, and this is the real deal. It's also reasonably priced; the pad thai is at least two bucks cheaper than similar restos on Queen W., as an example.
The same family has another place on St. Clair, but the name escapes me.
One of my favourite Thai restaurants is called Thai Bistro. Located at 5306 Yonge Street in North York just north of Empress Ave. (416)222-4653 It's in a really small space which can only seat about 15 people and does not have a liquor license. The food is amazing, the kitchen is out in the restaurant so you can watch them cook and it's family run by Thai people. Thai music plays in the background. Closed on Sundays. The Pad Thai, Garlic Shrimp and Pineapple Chicken Fried rice are my favourites! Enjoy!
FYI They do serve lunch, I work in this neck of the woods. It is definitely one of the better Thai restos in Toronto - small place run by a woman cook and a man server. Been to Thailand a few times now and can attest to the cooking there. In fact, reminded me of a toned down version of this street stall we frequented near Khao San Rd in 1996 with the woman cooking and one of her male relatives serving; but alas it is no more, so much for progress. Though the quality of the food overall has vastly improved since then (in Thailand that is, a sure sign of prosperity). Thai Bistro is good food @ a reasonable price, I'm constantly shocked at what some restaurants charge for phad thai in this city, not to mention what passes off as phad thai (ketchup anyone?). I'm not sure if they have A/C @ the bistro this year, didn't last year and certainly did add to the atmosphere. Best to go with a group and share, the lunch specials are sooo North American. Sawasdee kha!