Tag Archives: Thai food

A smorgasbord of international flavours @ Smorgasburg

Dude, Toronto food festivals are back with a vengeance like Simon Gruber this summer… but not all food festivals are created equal. I gotta say, I was so disappointed in the Food Truck Festival that I didn’t even blog about it. Seemed like 75% of the food was burgers, fries and tacos — and yes, those are a few of my favourite things — but I was looking for something funky, and I didn’t really find it.

On the other hand, Smorgasburg Toronto, which is going down on the waterfront every Saturday until mid-September, has a list of vendors that better reflects the culinary diversity of this city. You’ve got Jamaican, Sri Lankan, Salvadorean, Japanese, Filipino, Indian, Argentinian… I think I even saw a Somali samosa stand. But you KNOW I love the smell of sizzling meat in the summer, so my first stop was the great big grill at Baan Authentic Thai Cuisine, where I snagged me some pork skewers:

smorgasburg_thai_pork_skewer (2)

You don’t need need a fork to eat this pork! Meat is nicely grilled, with some good char, and they come three to an order, which is a nice light snack in Flavourtown. But if you don’t like it hot, stay away from the green sauce — that shit’s so spicy, I actually ate some of the cucumbers that came as a garnish just to cool things down!!!

smorgasburg_jerk_shrimp_poboy (7)

But you KNOW we can’t go to Smorgasburg and only eat one thing, bro! This jerk shrimp po’boy packs a fistful of crispy shrimp into an irie cocoa-bread roll, with some plantain chips on the side for snacking. Yeah, we be jammin’ this… straight down my piehole!!!!!!

smorgasburg_beef_empanada (5)

Don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff at Smorgasburg is expensive — that shrimp sammy was like 13 bucks, bro! But if you want more bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with a five-dolla empanada. The pulled beef was nice and tender, the shell was flaky, and the whole thing was piping hot, even though they just pulled it out of a warming station. Dude, I could crush at least four of these…

smorgasburg_ice_cream_sandwich (2)

…but you know I gotta save room for dessert, right? There are some pretty funky dessert stands at this festival, but on a hot summer day like last Saturday, I could really go some ice cream. Turns out Pandoughra’s Box sells both cookies AND ice cream, and combining these two things into an ice cream sandwich is sooo the way to go, bro!!!!

Pai Northern Thai’s taking it to Midtown Flavourtown!!!

Now, Pai Northern Thai Kitchen is already known as one of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto. I’ve had green curry beef here that was too legit to quit, and ordered some takeout where they probably got the spice level wrong. So when I heard they opened a second location in Midtown, just a coconut’s throw from Yonge & Eglinton, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!!!!

pai_garlic_shrimp (5)

The Uptown menu looks to be about the same as the OG location, so I figured I’d order a couple things I haven’t tried before, starting with these kung tawt garlic shrimp. These super-crispy bad boys go down smooth with a little spicy-sour tamarind sauce on the side. Man, if these shrimp were endless, Red Lobster would be outta business, bro!!!!

pai_oxtail_curry (30)

But now it’s time for a different type of beef curry — we be jammin’ this oxtail down me piehole, mon! Meat is super-tender, sauce adds a nice little kick, but you gotta watch out for all them little bones, bro…

autpop_session_sour (9)

Now, they don’t have as much craft beer here as their downtown joint (from what I remember), but man, whenever I see Blood Brothers on a beer list, I pretty much have to order it. This is the latest installment in their Autopop series, a session sour with cherries. Not gonna lie, I thought I was ordering the Autopop Cherry Cola sour, which I’ve had a couple times before, but this light ‘n tangy fruit punch does go pretty good with Thai food, though.

black_hand_stout (6)

But now we’re kicking it up a couple notches with a Black Hand Stout. This rich, dark beer is sorta like Guinness on steroids, coming in strong at 7%…which means instead of slamming six beers, I might only have five.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Thai lamb curry in a bit less of a hurry…

I dunno guy, but it seems like every time I order from Uber Eats, it takes about an hour for my food to get here. OK, so I’ve only ordered from them a couple times since this latest lockdown started…but both times, it took almost an hour. And the last two times before that took over an hour, too. Whatever happened to 30 minutes or it’s free, bro???

Anyways, after three failed attempts to redeem a Chinese New Year’s discount code with Skip the Dishes (I picked from the “featured restos” and ordered the right amount of food, but for some reason the code wasn’t eligible!!!???) I ended up opting for an Uber Eats offer where you save a lucky 8 dollars when you order 30 bucks or more — from certain participating restaurants. First one that popped up with Isaan Der, this funky little Thai joint at Queen and Broadview. I’m always down to try some Thai, so when I saw the Lamb Shank Massaman Curry, I knew it was heading straight down my piehole…some 53 minutes later. (Hey, at least I can start going back to restaurants tomorrow?)

isaan_der_lamb_shank (10)

Now, as much as I love lamb, I would not put this down as one of my top 10 lamb dishes. (Especially not after coming back from Iceland, where they put lamb in everything!) The meat here was NOT fork tender or fall-off-the-bone — despite what it says on the menu, I definitely needed a fork and knife to get in there. As for the curry, I ordered mine mild, since I’ve had some mild Thai food before that was still pretty spicy… but at this place, mild really means mild; there was no heat at all. Well, except for the fact that I paid $1.50 for a container of fresh chilies to bump my order up to 30 bucks. Those babies really kicked it up a notch! And I didn’t realize this dish already came with rice, which is also sold separately, so I ended up with two kinds of rice — sticky AND jasmine. But hey, I can use that extra rice, as well as some of that leftover curry sauce, for dinner the next day… so it’s all good in the hood, bro!!!

doc_perdue's_bobcat (8)

Now, Thai food is often served with a lighter, crisp lager — most typically Tiger Beer, when tends to be my go-to at Asian restaurants that don’t have many beers to choose from. But this heavier curry calls for a richer brew like Doc Perdue’s Bobcat, a West Coast Red Ale from the fine folks at Cowbell Brewing Co. (You KNOW I need more Cowbell, bro!!!!!) You get a nice, malty flavour that takes the heat off those side chilies without being too heavy at 5.5%. Plus, it’s named after some dude’s pet bobcat, which is pretty badass…

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: The spiciest “mild” dish I’ve ever eaten…

So, Skip the Dishes is doing this Eggs Anytime deal where they take 5 bucks off egg-based dishes at a buncha different local restaurants. Unlike Guy Fieri, I actually like eggs — just about as much as saving money — so I figured I’d check out a few of these places before this offer expires.

Up first, we’ve got PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, a place where I once had some of the best beef curry in my life. For Eggs Anytime, you can get five bucks off their signature pad thai, or this Thai-style stir fry, pad gra prow:

pai_pad_gra_prow (18)

OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got rice and your choice of protein — pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu — stir-fried in basil with a fried egg on top. It probably goes without saying, but I went with the beef. This dish also ranges in spice from no spice all the way to Thai spicy (which is obviously hotter than Farang, aka white-guy, spicy). Well, I didn’t wanna be a total wimp and ask for no spice, so I went with mild. And man, if that’s mild, I don’t even wanna know what Thai spicy tastes like!

I mean, I’m not the type who puts raisins in potato salad to cool off the spice of the mayo, but to me, this has gotta be at least a medium in my books. I’m pretty sure I’ve had some hot wings that were less spicy than this. But while I’m probably gonna be feeling the burn for a while, the combo of rice, beef and egg was not a bad lunch for $12.50. I gotta say, though, if they were doing 2-for-1 on Uber, I could easily finish both of these and still have room for dessert, bro…

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Hungarian and Thai food, at the same time, dude!!!

The great thing about Toronto is that you can find pretty much any kind of food on earth, and it’s all right here, right now in T-Dot-O. There’s even some pretty crazy mash-ups, like Rasta Pasta, this funky Jamaican/Italian joint in Kensington Market. But just a couple blocks away, in the same damn hood, there’s another joint serving up an even crazier cuisine combination — Hungary Thai Bar & Eatery. Who knew that you’d even want Hungarian and Thai food at the same time, dude???

Now, when I saw this place, I knew I had to try a bit of both. And it turns out they’ve got a Thai & Hungarian Combo for 2 that comes with everything you see above — schnitzel, spring rolls, cabbage rolls and enough pad thai to feed at least two people on its own. Of course, since we’re still in Second Lockdown, there was no second person to share this with…but when has that ever stopped me, bro!!!!!!!!!!??????????

hungary_thai_schnitzel (14)

Now, I’ll admit I’m kinda glad this combo only came with one massive chicken schnitzel instead of two. Don’t get me wrong, I have done two schnitz at the same time before, but let’s just say I didn’t feel like a million bucks afterwards. Plus, this schnitzel platter also comes with soft, roasted potatoes and a pile of bitter, peppery coleslaw, so it’s not like there isn’t enough food here…

hungary_thai_cabbage_rolls (10)

Cabbage rolls almost never look pretty in a picture, and these ones were no exception. The combo comes with one roll per hypothetical person, topped with sour cream and paprika and served with a side of hot sauerkraut, in case you didn’t get your monthly serving of cabbage from the coleslaw already.

hungary_thai_spring_rolls (14)

Spring rolls are four to an order, and they’re pretty much what you’d expect, although the shell was a little softer and not as crunchy as your typical Chinese takeout. After polishing off these bad boys, I actually dropped the bean sprouts on top of my pad thai to make sure there was no food left behind, bro!

hungary_thai_pad_thai (6)

Now, this almost seemed like a bottomless bowl of pad thai, bro. I mean, even after I ate everything else, it felt like I had barely put a dent in this dish. But the noodles were nice ‘n chewy, with that tangy tamarind taste. They give you the choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu… but I asked for shrimp and still got chicken. Maybe there were all outta shrimp, Bro Supply???

pad_thai_schnitzel (4)

Of course, you know this had to happen — when I ordered this combo, I had to get some schnitzel and pad thai in the same bite, bro! And actually, this combo kinda works, with the crunchy, breaded chicken offsetting the soft, chewy noodles. I mean, if schnitzel with noodles is one of Kelly Clarkson’s favorite things, then I guess that’s good enough for me…

val-dieu_cuvee_800 (13)

Now, what beer goes with both Hungarian and Thai food, you might ask? Well, this Cuvée 800 from the Belgian monks at Val-Dieu would probably do the trick. This banana-y Belgian ale meshes well with both the lemon juice squeezed on the schnitzel and the citrusy notes of pad thai noodles, without being too heavy at 5.5%. Hey bro, I don’t want no heavy beer when I kinda need to save room for food…

hungary_thai_aftermath (5)

And yes, I did devour every last bite, bro! I was feeling a little uncomfortable after all those oodles of noodles, but it’s still just another dinner for one in Flavourtown, son!!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Thai-style chicken wings & poutine!

Bangkok Garden is one of the OG Thai joints in this city, serving up authentic Thai dishes downtown since the early 80’s. When we ate here in person, a couple years back, I scarfed down some succulent seafood skewers — but this time, for takeout, we’re going with their take on a couple Canadian classics… poutine AND chicken wings!

bangkok_garden_chicken_wings (2)

Now, I think you actually can get chicken wings in Thailand — or at least at other Thai restaurants in town. But I always thought that Thai wings were a little too sweet. These ones definitely weren’t though, nice ‘n crispy with a little bit of Sriracha heat, and then some fish sauce for dipping. For 10 bucks, I definitely can’t complain!

bangkok_garden_thai_poutine (5)

But the Thai poutine is where they really take it to another level! First of all, the fresh-cut fries were fricken delicious — definitely the best fries I’ve ever had from any Asian joint! But what kicks it up another notch is the red curry sauce. I mean, you wouldn’t think that fries, cheese and curry would go together, but the end result is magically delicious. I would totally order this the next time I dine in at Bangkok Garden!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Whole pile of Thai-style squid!!!

Now, to be honest, I’ve been ordering a lot more delivery than takeout… hey, I don’t wanna get the Camaro dirty, bro! But when Uber Eats gave me a code for $10 off an order — as long as I pick it up — that means I’m heading on over to Salad King, this funky local Thai joint that’s been serving it up since the early 80’s.

This place is known for super-spicy food, with its choose-your-own-chili level of heat. So when I saw that this squid dish called Sea Queen was “already a bit spicy,” well, I’m just glad they put the sauce on the side!!!

salad_king_squid (12)

Now, it might not look like much in those little containers, but this is actually quite a lot of food. Squid is nice and chewy, lightly breaded and seasoned, and it turns out the sauce isn’t too spicy. And then, for another six bucks, I got three super-sized spring rolls. You definitely get your money’s worth here, bro!!!

salad_king_spring_rolls (3)

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: My oh my, that’s some good pad thai!!!

Now, I haven’t actually had any Asian food since this shutdown first started. But I was craving Thai, so I went onto Uber Eats, and ordered from Khao San Road, the most popular Thai place on the app. Unfortunately, this meant I didn’t get my lunch until about 1:20…but I’d say it was worth the wait.

khao_san_road_pad_thai (8)

This here’s their Three Flavours Pad Thai, and it’s like a Boat of Many Flavours in Flavourtown. You’ve got all the classics like tofu, egg, bean sprouts and peppers, with a few chunks of chicken, some rice noodles, and nice mixture of lime and tamarind, for that extra tang. Man, I was so hungry, I could eat a container twice this size, son!!!

khao_san_road_pad_thai (11)

 

Eating all the dumplings @ Kiin

So, we’re hanging out at Kiin, this funky little Thai joint in the Entertainment District. Now, you won’t find any pad thai or satay skewers at this place — they specialize in Royal Thai cuisine, the kind of food that’s fit for a king (just don’t say anything bad about him on Facebook, bro!)

But, even if I won’t get 35 years in the slammer for giving this place a bad review, I gotta say, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a little while! We’re starting things off with their famous Roy Thai dumplings, a little four-pack of flavour nuggets in Flavourtown:

kiin_miang_kung_dumpling (3)

Everybody Miang Kung tonight! This first dumpling packs shallots, ginger, coconut, peanuts, red chili and tamarind sauce into a betel leaf, then sticks a shrimp on top!!!

kiin_mha_hor_dumpling (1)

This Mha Hor dumpling tasted kinda like a mini little Eat-More bar! It’s a combination of sweet pickled turnip, peanuts, coriander and red chili served on top of a pineapple — you could put this on a pizza, and it would still taste good!!!! 😛

kiin_chor_ladda_dumpling (4)

The Chor Ladda was definitely the purdiest of the bunch, but also maybe the least tasty. This vegan, gluten-free nugget packs peanuts, onions, pickled radish and coconut into a jasmine-rice-flour dumpling. You definitely get the texture of the peanuts and coconut, but this dish is definitely not Flavourtown!!!

kiin_thoong_thong_dumpling (4)

Let me see that Thoong Thong… We’re saving the best for last with this Thoong Thong dumpling, stuffed with chicken, shrimp and chives in a wonton wrap, with a garlic plum sauce, served on top of a cucumber — dude, I could polish off a whole rack of these babies!!!

kiin_short_rib (2)

But you KNOW we didn’t just come here to eat dumplings, bro!!! This beef short rib is TheBomb.th — super-tender, fall-off-the-bone beef served in a tasty coconut curry. Man, I could take a bath in that sauce, son!!!!

kiin_dessert_roti (2)

Of course, even after licking that bowl clean, I’ve still got room for dessert — dessert roti, actually! This crunchy Thai flatbread is drenched with condensed milk for a nice sweetness. I probably didn’t need to eat, like, five of these, though…

Who needs ginger beef when you can have ginger duck???

So, we’re hanging out at Green Mango, this pretty fancy Thai joint that’s been serving it up on The Kingsway since 1995. Now, the menu at this place is frickin’ huge, but when I saw they were cooking with duck, I knew I had to come check it out!!!

curry_pumpkin_soup (5)

We’re starting off with the curry pumpkin soup, which was sooo outta bounds, bro! You’ve got the richness of the pumpkin, combined with yams, a little coconut milk on top…and I swear, they had this thing in front of me like 60 seconds after I ordered it!!!

ginger_roasted_duck (17)

But now it’s time for the main event. They’ve got a handful of duck dishes to choose from, and the roasted duck curry caught my eye…until I saw the two chili peppers next to it on the menu. Me ‘n spicy food just don’t get along, bro! Instead I went with the ginger duck, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. Ginger beef is one of my go-to Chinese foods, and it’s got a similar sauce, with little slivers of ginger, alongside onions, broccoli, bell peppers and carrots. Even with all the veggies and the rice, the meatiness of the duck still cuts through the mix – this dish is all it’s quacked up to be!!!