February 21, 2012

Khao San Road, Toronto

Amazing and addictive Squash Fritters with Singha
Because I had a Thai craving that needed to be satisfied, we arrived at 5:45pm on a Saturday night. The line up was already out the door. There are a very limited number of reservations at Khao San Road and the rest is walk-in only. This is both a blessing and a curse. It means you will get dinner eventually, but you will most likely have to wait. We were there for an hour before being seated.

Tables are often communal, depending on the size of your group and we were dining beside a lovely birthday girl and her two friends. So long as you’re not socially inept, communal dining shouldn’t be a problem.

Service was fast and extremely friendly. Considering they have to deal with a line out the door of cranky, hungry guests eager for a table, the Khao San Road staff does a great job of keeping smiles on their faces and being pleasant to everyone. They were even letting people order drinks in line, which was probably a nightmare to keep track of.

Once seated, we started with Singha beer and Squash Fritters, (Gra Bong). The fritters were mixed with ginger, lemongrass and red curry and I could eat those by the bucketful. They’re hot, crispy, seasoned just right and totally addictive. My only quibble is over the dipping sauce they’re served with, it’s on the sweet side and I’d like a little heat.

Green Curry
Our choice for mains was Khoa Soi and Green Curry, (Gaeng Kaew Wan). The Khao Soi consisted of egg noodles in a coconut milk curry with crispy noodles on top. For me, this is a little like the best of both worlds. I could eat noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner but when I go for Thai food, I’m always conflicted over whether I want curry with rice or a noodle dish like Pad Thai. Khao Soi is a little of both.

As for the Green Curry, it brought back memories of Thailand.  This was the best green curry I’ve had in Canada. It still can’t beat the ones I had in Thailand but that’s only because I associate the green curries of Thailand with sitting on a deck overlooking the water, with a warm breeze, cold beer and three of my best friends. That’s a tough combination to beat.

By the time dessert rolled around I was stuffed, but I’m stubborn and wanted to try it, so I ordered Sa Koo Ma Prao to go. Sa Koo Ma Prao is the only dessert on the menu and to be honest I had a bit of a craving for coconut sticky rice with mango. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I may like this even better. It was a cup of tapioca pearls in coconut milk with young coconut strips and a hint of vanilla flavour from pandan. Sometimes after a meal that consists of rice and curry, a dessert of more rice isn’t the most appealing thing so the tapioca pearls were a nice change of pace. It would have been perfect if it came with a few strips of ripe, juicy mango on top.

Khao Soi
 One thing that baffled me at Khao San Road, and my dining companion commented on it too, was the musical selection. Over the course of the evening we heard a mix that included Nelly’s Hot in Here and Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris. For a place with such good food, their taste in music is surprisingly bad.

Also, a word of warning to anyone who likes their food spicy, Khao San Road seems to cater to a Western palate that fears a good kick of chili. I ordered my food medium spicy and could easily have handled hot. It was by no means bland, but I found the medium to be more in line with my thoughts of what mild would have been.

Final verdict? Go to Khao San Road but go for lunch. The wait time isn’t as long, the portions won’t leave you totally stuffed, you’ll still get delicious Thai food and your wallet will thank you.

Khao San Road is open Monday- Saturday for lunch and dinner at 326 Adelaide St. West, Toronto.

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