Friday, October 28, 2011

khao san road

L and J's collective heart skipped several beats when we first heard about Khao San Road. Previously our favourite Thai in the city had been Sukhothai & although the food at Sukhothai was the freshest and least oily Thai we've had the pleasure of consuming in Toronto, the dining experience left much to be desired, We have eaten there on many occasions in the cramped, dark, low ceiling basement area; we have watched, mouths agape, as hungry patrons waiting for takeout have sat down uninvited next to other diners, & we have waited & waited & waited for the Dundas street car home. Having said that, the food was always so good that if the dining room had been a burning rope bridge suspended over the pit of hades, we still would have quite happily taken our chances there, but the opening up in the entertainment district of a step-sister to Sukhothai which is light, modern and even a touch hip was altogether much more to our liking.

Over the last few months we've also been pleased to see Khao San Road get over their new restaurant foibles. The dazed and confused waitresses have morphed into servers that must rank among the hardest working & most efficient in the city.

Now on to the food...

For once, J had developed a massive appetite that coincided with an actual meal time, so we opted for an appetizer. Drawn by the promise of fresh mint, J insisted that we try the Po Pia Pak Sod Gai Yaw which is a fresh spring roll with homemade chicken sausage, mint & thai basil that comes with a lovely tamarind garlic sauce. The sausage was only lightly seasoned but  worked so very well with the fresh herbs and tangy dipping sauce. The texture of the sausage was interestingly dense & was complimented by the crisp lettuce and carrots. J made a mental note to starve herself before their next visit so she can relish the rolls once again.

J has tried a number of the mains on offer and always struggles with what to order because everything she has tried has been so satisfyingly scrumptious. So began the neuron transmission race in her brain, would it be the Khao Soi with its crispy noodles and braised beef? Or would the Pad Gra Prao with minced pork manage to enter her synapse by the time the server came back to take her order? Either would have sufficed, but the eggy goodness of the Pad Gra Prao won the race this night

J has never been a fan of minced meat in general, but in this dish it is so lovingly infused with intense Thai goodness that she is always taken aback at the first bite. The Thai flavours are bold, but contained. This sauce clings to the meat keeping a perfect balance between meat and rice, unlike dishes in other Thai resturants where the sauce drowns out each little grain of rice in a soupy tsunami. Best of all the Pad Gra Prao is immensely easy to wolf down at the pace that a hungry tummy demands

L went with the Gaeng Massaman, the same dish he has had every time he has visited either Khao San Road or Sukhothai. L swears he will try something different one day, but first they will have to serve him up a massaman which is less then perfect in every way. Until that day arrives he's gonna keep on ordering it, Thai spicy, maybe alternating between chicken & beef if he's feeling adventurous. 

Were it not for the fact that L can't get a gin & tonic there & that it's so crazy busy it's inevitable you'll be waiting for a table, Khao San Road would be a vision of shimmering perfection amidst   the wasteland of the entertainment district, a surprise as gloriously unexpected & life affirming as magic mushrooms growing atop a cow turd. As it is, it has to settle for being merely the best Thai food in the city by a country freaking mile. 

Khao San Road on Urbanspoon

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