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Khao San Road – Toronto

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Fresh Rolls

Location: 326 Adelaide Street West, Toronto

Phone: (647) 352 — 5773

Website: http://www.khaosanroad.ca/

Open: Monday — Saturday Lunch: 11:30am — 2:30pm

Monday — Saturday Dinner: 5:00pm — 10:00pm

(Closed Sundays and public holidays)

Style: Thai

Price: $10 — $30

Rating: 4 out of 5 – Delicious

 

Review by Judi Zienchuk

Having backpacked through Thailand, a restaurant with the name “Khao San Road” instantly brought up memories of delicious meals served by lady boys in crowded restaurants.

In Bangkok, Thailand, this street started off as a rice market (Khao San translates to milled rice) but has since evolved into the (in)famous backpacker destination, lined with endless cheap food and accommodation. In Toronto, Khao San Road may only be a single restaurant, but it has just as much punch as the real deal.

Singha Beer

Walking up to Khao San Road, the restaurant is literally a hole in the wall with a small neon sign hanging over top an open-air window. However, judging by the fact that a large crowd of yet-to-be seated diners and two groups of seated outdoor patrons were braving an evening thunderstorm from under a thin canopy covering, Khao San Road was more than just a hole.

The inside of the restaurant was even more jam-packed. Tables were squished full of people and brimming even more with food. The establishment was clearly set up to host a busy environment, as large, bright pieces of modern art lined the walls complimented the engaged atmosphere. While the venue might be a bit noisy for a romantic date night, it’s perfectly suited to host animated groups.

Both menus (original and vegan) feature ample selection, with options written in both Thai and English. They also quote the restaurant’s commitment to using high quality authentic ingredients straight from Thailand. As many Thai restaurants in Canada are quite westernized, the menu’s passage was a reassuring promise.

 

Thai Iced Tea

 

Shortly after being seating, my guest and I were served our Thai Iced Tea ($4.50) and Singha beer ($6.00). Holding true to the Thai recipe, the iced tea was made with tamarind (not cinnamon) and sweetened to perfection with condensed milk.

The next round of service brought our starters: Fresh [spring] Rolls ($7.00) and Squash Fritters ($10).

I was slightly dubious about the rolls, as chicken sausage seemed an unlikely filling. However, they were nicely seasoned with tamarind and the lettuce was layered with mint and Thai basil and the carrots were fresh and crunchy, ensuring that each bite was bursting with flavour. The vermicelli wrapping also proved a healthy alternative to the standard deep fried option.

 

Squash Fritters

 

After seeing several orders fly out of the kitchen since I was seated, it became clear that ordering the Squash Fritters was a must. While fritters aren’t as much of a Thai staple, they went well with ginger, lemongrass and red curry seasoning. The thin strips provided the perfect balance between batter and filling and were piled in an appetizingly high stack on the plate.

For the main course, we opted for Chef’s Special Pad Thai ($15.00), Pad Gra Prao ($13.00) and Khao Soi ($14.00).

As the chef’s special, I had high hopes for the pad Thai dish and was slightly disappointed to find the rice noodles slightly chewy and undercooked. However, the rest of the dish excelled, with perfectly creamy peanut and tamarind sauce coating generous pieces of chicken along with tofu, egg, chives and beansprouts.

 

Chef's Special Pad Thai

 

Pad Gra Prao is stir-fried minced pork served over rice and topped with a fried egg. The pork was seasoned with basil, but after the Pad Thai’s strong peanut sauce, seemed slightly bland in comparison, despite my adding extra chilis. The egg however, was just soft enough to run into rice once cut, making for well-rounded mouthfuls.

 

Pad Gra Prao

The Khao Soi consisted of braised beef, egg noodles and green onion in a coconut milk soup. It’s then seasoned with red curry and coriander, garnished with spicy noodles and served with a slice of lime. The soup was a delicious consistency and the sweet coconut milk harmonized perfectly with the spicy red curry, coating the noodles and beef to create audible “Mmm”s with each spoonful. While each plate brought some great flavours to the table, the Khao Soi was by far my favourite.

 

Khao Soi

While my guest admittedly chugged through several glasses of water throughout the meal, refill service was slow and despite being seated at the bar, directly across from the bartender, I found myself needing to flag someone down for refills.

 

Although I didn’t finish any of the main dishes, I left the restaurant pleasantly stuffed. Altogether, Khao San Road does an impressive job of creating authentic Thai meals. Well worth the line to get in, even on a busy Friday or Saturday evening, their commitment to quality is highly noticeable. For anyone looking for a Thai meal with friends, it should be a go-to spot.

 

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