Ginger (2007)

Ginger/Ginger 2
695 Yonge St.
(416) 966-2424

521 Bloor Street West
(416) 536-3131

252 Carlton Street
(416) 923-7979

546 Church Street
(416) 413 1053

403 Yonge
416-263-9999

The two original Ginger’s I know of are the one at Yonge and Bloor and the one at Yonge and Gerrard (called Ginger 2). quick and cheap with large portions, damn good prices, and a variety of good food, from stir frys, pho (Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, thinly slices beef, and veggies–the broth actually cooks the beef), as well as Vietnamese subs for less than $3, fruit salad, thick and delicious smoothies, vegetarian pho (vegetarian broth with deep fried or steamed tofu, veggies (snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, carrot, green and red pepper, bean sprouts) in a heaping bowl of healthy goodness. Other fare includes cold salad rolls (veggie, shrimp, or meat varieties), or the spring rolls (deep fried), come with a sweet dipping sauce or a fishy tasting brown sauce with sprinkled peanuts.

Service is very fast and efficient. Customers line up and order and they take a clear plastic block with a number and staff serve the food. Food is served hot and fresh and staff are pleasant (not extremely pleasant-it’s very fast paced at the Yonge/Bloor location).

The Church and Wellesley location (re-branded as Ginger – Taste of Health) has an actual bar where they serve up fancy fruity martinis. Ginger on Church and Wellesley is more upscale in terms of the decor, but the prices are still as low as Ginger on Yonge/Bloor and Ginger 2 on Yonge/Gerrard. The Church location is fairly new, so there is more seating, bathrooms are nicer, and the placer is cleaner. At the time of my Church street visit (March 2006), they did not offer vegetarian pho as they claim that they cannot make their Pho vegetarian.

The other Ginger locations on Bloor (the Annex) and on Calrton (in Cabbagetown) offer a more trendy and chic look (similar to the Church street location). All of the “newer” locations (Church, Carlton, and Bloor) market themselves as healthy and offer vegetarian options.

The Yonge/Bloor street location and the Church/Wellesley location accept all cards, while the newer Annex location only accepted cash at the time. The Annex location also had a slightly different menu. At that location i ordered the vegetarian hot and sour pho which was equally delicious but had less vegetables than the Yonge/Bloor location. The broth was tastier and the whole decor/ambiance more trendy (even the veggie salad rolls w/ peanut sauce came in trendy shapes and in a more trendy plate). I prefer the veggie salad rolls (more variety) which came with slices of mango and carrot and there was more vegetarian options whereas the Ginger at Yonge/Bloor offered veggie, shrimp, beef salad rolls in an oyster sauce topped with peanuts. Ginger in the Annex offered a delicious REAL peanut sauce (veggie with no fish stock). If only they could improve their portion size on the Pho.

Overall the new branding of Ginger Taste of Health focuses on serving the vegetarian community, when it claims vegetarian options available, whereas the Church/Wellesley could not give a rat’s ass about us veggies and The Ginger at Yonge/Bloor could very well be lying since their English communication skills suck–staff hardly talk…who knows if they even understand the word “vegetarian”. Bathrooms are Ginger at Yonge/Bloor look like a murder scene, don’t bother going to the washroom there, hold it in. Both Ginger at Yonge/Bloor and Yonge/Gerrard need makeovers but food and service is excellent, fast, efficient, friendly, and quick. It’s definitely worth moving to a neighbourhood where there is a Ginger. You get a fast, hearty, healthy, and cheap “no bullshit” meal.

Also offers cheap Vietnamese submarines for under $5 and cheap stir fries (veggie, seafood and meat varieties). My friend Wendy (fellow reviewer) often stops by Ginger at Yonge/Bloor for a large Vietnamese Sub for $2.95 (sure beats Subway or Mr. Sub). She is very happy with her selection as the sandwich is large, fresh, and best of all cheap. Can’t complain.

Ginger

 695 Yonge Street – (416) 966-2424
403 Yonge Street – (416) 263-9999
546 Church Street- 416 324 8724
252 Carlton Street 416-923-7979
521 Bloor Street West (416)536-3131

When you think of Ginger, think casual, fast food, and excellent prices. You will not be ripped off or disappointed. It’s like a giant food court, noisy, but the food quality is definitely better than your typical food court with tasteless, bland, and expired dishes, claiming to be Italian or Chinese but really it’s the North American rendition. Food court food is a quick and cheap and lousy interpretation of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai food should be.

I went there with some friends after checking out a rockin’ good underwear sale. We were really hungry and we did not want to spend too much money so we checked out the newly opened Ginger on Church street near Wellesley.

Scott had the green curry with silken tofu and vegetables. He wasn’t too impressed. There wasn’t much tofu really, and the rice wasn’t that soft either. Overall, he wouldn’t eat it again. He didn’t like the atmosphere, it was too loud to hear more than one table away.

I had the eggplant and tofu green curry dish with steamed vegetables and white rice. I omitted the green curried tofu and replaced it with more steamed vegetables but unfortunately, due to poor communication skills, they did not add any more steamed vegetables so I was a bit unhappy.

Bob ordered the rice, veggies, 3 shrimp, chicken, beef price ($8.50). He felt that it was not too spicy, it was flavourful, with a fast food ambiance, yet it felt like being in a restaurant. He liked that he did not have to leave a tip. He liked the comfy chairs, and the “in between” nature of fast food and fine dining. Lastly, he liked that they brought the food to you

Paulo had the same dish as Bob but without the clump of white rice (shrimp, chicken, and beef) with veggies

Lailah ordered a thick udon noodle soup with tofu and vegetables (known as Pho). The soup bowl was big and hearty and came with a generous serving of noodles and vegetables (also known as Pho).

On other visits I have had veggie salad rolls (cold rice paper rolls in a sweet peanut sauce, not peanut butter sauce but a sweet teriyaki sauce with crushed peanuts on top. As well, I have enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese dish called Pho, a soup with tons of veggies, rice noodles, and tofu, in a clear veggie broth and covered in basil leaves. The soup is very hot (in terms of temperature and it’s also spicy). Most Phos have beef or chicken but mine was 100% veggie. I had to inform the server when taking orders since most Thai, Vietnamese, or Korean food always has fish, oyster, or chicken broth added to most dishes so it’s best to be the paranoid vegetarian and emphasize having an “animal-free dish”. The new Church Street location has a fresh fruit martini bar which makes it look less look “fast food” but overall it’s still fast food and excellent prices. Accepts all cards

Family Thai [Mark Aaron]

785 Danforth Ave
416-461-9288
open 7 days per week, 12 noon-midnight

 

As part of Wendy’s 30th birthday weekend, we decided to go dine at the newest Thai restaurant on the

Danforth, EOP (East of Pape)-the Family Thai. Conveniently located between my house and Wendy’s on the

Danforth, we looked at the menu and we saw (from the billboard) that they offer a large menu with many

vegetarian options.

Inside this new restaurant is still a work in progress. We did not see any Asian chatchkahs or

knicknacks, instead it looked like a university student’s apartment. The walls are adorned with kitschy

prints found at university poster sales that were laminated. Tables were nice but had milk and sugar

containers in cow prints. Alittle cheesy, not too Asian in decor, but oh well, a work in progress.

I must say all Thai restaurants in the city have the same menu. There is a beef, chicken, seafood

section, a small section with about 5 Malaysian dishes, a menu with alcoholic beverages, an appetizer

section, and a dessert section. Nearly all items are identical. I must confess it gets boring when all

of the Thai restaurants seem to collaborate and make their menus identical. How can i compare and

contrast when there is no diversity. For my meal, i ordered the vegetarian Thai hot and sour soup for

$5.95. The bowl was large and came fresh and hot and very spicy. To my surprise the broth was red and

hot, unlike most Thai Hot and Sour Soups which are black. When i visited a vegetarian Thai restaurant

in Montreal, they told me that authentic Thai Hot and Spicy (Hot and Sour was Chinese, she claimed) was

acutally made with lemongrass and lime and ginger and not black at all, but a yellow-orange clear broth.

She mentioned that the black broth of the Hot and Sour was actually a Chinese soup. How enlightening.

I had a lot of communication problems with the waitress when i ordered the cold veggie rolls. I asked

for a side order of peanut sauce (75 cents) and she told me that the cold veggie rolls came with the

sweet and sour sauce but it did not go well with the peanut sauce. I still insisted on having the

peanut sauce and in her broken, almost non-existent English, she told me i could only have the sweet and

sour dipping sauce.
I told her slowly that i did not want the sweet and sour dipping sauce,

but only the peanut sauce. She finally understand. Next came the hard part, asking her if the peanut

sauce was truly vegetarian, not made with oyster or fish or chicken stock. I asked her the ingrediants

in the peanut sauce and after several tries, she told me what the peanut sauce was made with. The peanut

sauce arrived with the cold veggie rolls and i was happy. The sauce was sweet and runny, not very

thick, but still quite delicious. I prefer thick and chunky, though.

It was funny to see how she reacted when the empty restaurant started getting busier. She nearly freaked out on us. When 2 customers entered the restaurant, she was in the middle of taking our order when she suddenly left and greeted the newer customers. As she sat them down, she came back to us, all frazzled, and apologized. Although she looked like she could have been in her mid 20’s, she acted like an awkward schoolgirl of 16 years old. As Wendy put it, “she was peculiar”.

For my main, i ordered the mango tofu, an assortment of stir fried veggies in a sweet mango sauce with

chunks of mango. My dish came was fresh and portions were large and i was very happy with the price

($8.95). Wendy ordered the Tom Yum Chicken soup with lemongrass, ginger, vegetables, and tofu. She

said it had a slight zing. My soup, on the other hand was the hottest, strongest soup i had ever had in

a long time. It had a bite and was much too strong. I could hardly taste the baby corn, tofu, bamboo

shoots, or the mushrooms. Wendy ordered another vegetarian dish: the stir fried veggies with cashews in

a coconut curry sauce. Since we shared dishes, we were able to taste each other’s dishes. I found her

dish to be easier on the stomach, more mild and creamy, with a medley of stir fried veggies and the

cashews really made the dish tasty. Both dishes were appropriately portioned and we were both quite

pleased with the value of our meal.

Like all other Thai restaurants, expect the typical Pad Thai,

Mango Chicken, Mango Tofu, Basil Beef, Basil Chicken, Basil Tofu, Thai Green and Red Curry, and a

variety of seafood dishes, seafood curries, and other beef and chicken dishes. Most dishes are under

$10.00 and some are in the $10.95-$12.95 price range. Family Thai also serves a variety of beers and

wine and mixed cocktails. Apart from the cheesy, kitschy decor, and the nervous, anxious energy of the waitress with broken English, we were quite satsified. Accepts all cards.

Thai Basil

467 Bloor Street W
416-840-9988
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

Thai Basil is located in the Annex at Bloor near Brunswick, in the former space vacated by 350 Fahrenheit. There are some friendly touches at this airy, Pan Asian restaurant. Prices are ridiculously low and I am certain they will go up in due time. At the time of this review (March 26, 2005), Thai Basil was only one month old.

This place is a no bullshit kind of restaurant. I ordered a Thai Green Curry, and i asked for them to remove the fish stock and all other animal products and they said “no problem”. I asked if i could add tofu to my dish, they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. I also asked if they could add cashews and they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. So, my Thai green curry with tofu and cashews was a decent portion and only cost me $6.95. A no bullshit place i must admit. I will definitely go back for sure. The decor is identical to 350 Fahrenheit (see review). It’s like they moved in and just kept all of the original decor and just changed their name.
Thai Basil offers a six-page menu with dishes from across Southeast Asia, but it seems that Thai dishes were the focus. The curries were good, homemade, but alittle salty claims Daniel. He ordered the Thai green chicken curry and he thought it was quite good and spicier than the curries at most other Thai restaurants. He enjoyed the unusual addition of the oriental eggplant (they look like small green tomatoes) and peas (plump like grapes) which added a nice texture and subtle flavour to the dish. Daniel, like I, thinks that they could have used a little less salt, but otherwise, he felt it was a very good (but not the best) green curry. For our side dish, we shared an appetizer of deep fried tofu in a light batter of red pepper, garlic, and dried onion. I have never had such delicious tofu before. It was SO GOOD!.

For my drink , i ordered a lycee smoothie called the “Thai Basil Lycee smoothie” a thick lycee slushy drink, not to sweet, and quite thick and delicsious. It came with Vodka ($5.50) and I ordered a virgin ($3.50) so i was disappointed to find out the price. I complained and they lowered the price immediately. I did not even notice that i may have become intoxicated. I think there was very little vodka. Daniel had a King Fisher beer and he really enjoyed it. The music played was great. Throughout our visit, we listened to the entire album of Sarah McLachlan’s “Afterglow” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits”–one of my two favourite musicians/bands.

The only 2 issues we had with the restaurant were “temperature” and “menu orgazaniation”. Since Daniel and I sat by the window, we felt very cold, as Thai Basil’s exterior wall is only glass. We felt that insulation was a problem. In the future, if we go again, we will sit closer to the centre of the restaurant where all of the body heat is retained.

The other issue is really from the perspective of 2 Librarians. I felt, in particular that all of the vegetarian dishes were “hidden” in the menu when in fact there should have been a distinct section entitled “Vegetarian dishes”. While there was a list of dishes called “Vegetables” this list was not vegetarian as it listed some fish and seafood entrees. Most of the dishes listed on the menu gave options, like the Pad Thai. The regular pad thai was described and had a price, then below was the shrimp version, chicken version and veggie version, all with different prices. In other words, it seems all dishes seemed to have a veggie version but they were all listed within the main heading of the dish, rather than compile a list of all of the veggie dishes and list them under the heading “Vegetarian Dishes”. It seems every industry needs a Librarian to organize their life.

Accepts all cards. Prices are surprisingly affordable, but the whole decor and ambiance is misleading since it looks like overpriced Serra or Sassafraz. Food was excellent but slightly too salty. Liquor license.

Satay on the Road

1572 Bayview Ave
(416) 440-0679

2003 Avenue Rd, 
(416) 488-5153

2306 Queen St. East (416) 698-8618.*

* Malaysian food not available at our Queen Street location.

 

*March 2005*

Satay on the Road on Bayview was renovated. It no longer looks kitschy and cheesy. It no longer has palm trees hanging from ceiling. It looks very industrial, modern, with clean lines, marbled tiles, and looks very trendy, a la “Salad King”.

Satay on the Road is located in the heart of Leaside Village on Bayview between Eglinton and St. Clair Another location is located in North York and in the Beaches

SOTR is a very casual place, with cosy diner chairs and tables, and kitschy decor (Thai-style hut roofs that surround tables, giving it that “Tropical Island” feel)

The menu is typical “Toronto Thai” so it is not worth mentioning. They have all the typical beef, chicken, and shrimp dishes. They also have the typical vegetarian fare so I was not surprised. Without fail, I ordered the veggie hot and sour soup, one of the best i’ve ever had in Toronto, next to The Friendly Thai, with chunks of tofu, bamboo shoots, three types of mushrooms, served in a HUGE pot

For my entree dish I ordered the Tofu Satay Dish with four skewers of tofu, stir fried veggies and a curried peanut sauce [VERY similar to The Friendly Thai]. The peanut sauce, however, was different. It did not resemble the typical brown I expected. It was very chunky but it was yellow, like it had been “curried”. It was still excellent and the waitress told me it was vegetarian so I believed her. [i.e. no chicken or fish stock added]

Paulo also ordered the deep fried veggie spring rolls for his appetizer and he ordered the Pad Thai that came with a side of marinated boneless chicken breast. He loved it.

The restaurant is spread across two dining halls, both cosy and casual. There is a bar at the back at the restaurant and table mats advertise a medley of cocktails which was kind of cheesy.
SOTR accepts all cards and there are three locations in the city.

Spice Thai

246 Queens Quay West
(416) 598-0600

Last week three friends and I met up to see an free Opera performance at the Harbourfront Centre, part of their summer concert series. Right after the performance we were hungry so we decided to grab a late night bite. We stopped by Spice Thai, a small and cosy, dimly lit cafe located in the Harbourfront neighboruhood across from Harbourfront Centre, tucked away under an 80’s style Toronto condo on Queens Quay Boulevard.

With a familiar menu with all the traditional and typical Thai dishes, I asked which dishes were really vegetarian and the helpful and patient waiter helped me decide what to order. I opted for something light since it was very late [10:30-11:00pm]. I ordered the cold fresh veggie rolls (3) with a chunky peanut sauce [awesome! and completely vegetarian- no chicken stock!] ($4.95)

Alan ordered the Spicy Thai Eggplant ($7.95) which came with fresh basil leaves and a generous serving of stir fried purple eggplant. Daniel ordered the Pad Wood Sen (Stir fried glass noodles with chicken breast, shrimp, and vegetables) ($8.95). The other “Daniel” ordered calamari (breaded, deep-fried squid, served with sweet chili sauce) ($7.95)

Menu is divided as follows: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Noodle Dishes, Rice Dishes, Beef/Chicken, Seafood, and Vegetarian dishes. All main dishes are between $7.95-$9.95. All salads are from $6.95-$9.95. Noodle dishes are from $8.95-$9.95. Appetizers are from $4.95-$8.95. All vegetarian dishes are $7.95. [Vegetarian stir fried veggies, Thai Eggplant, Veggies with oyster sauce [WARNING: not vegetarian], and Spicy Ginger Tofu. Accepts all cards. Large, very clean and gorgeous washrooms, worth checking out. Open VERY late.

Chuch/Chuchai

 

My dream come true, a completely vegetarian restaurant, with close to one hundred Thai dishes. Located right on the Plateau at St. Denis between Rachel and Duluth, this restaurant offers traditional a vast variety of Thai dishes, mostly consisting of noodle dishes, tofu entrees, mock chicken, mock fish, mock shrimp and mock beef in traditional Thai styles. For our feast last week, I ordered the hot and sour soup, in a thick red tomato chili broth. Although the soup was small and did not have tofu, it had mock chicken, and mushrooms, but no bamboo shoots. Oh well. The soup portion was quite small considering it was $3.75. For my main dish, i ordered the Thai green curry with vegetables and tofu ($11.00). For our appetizer, we all ordered the seaweed fried with tofu skin, surrounded by fried basil. That dish was to die for, creative, very crunchy, flavourful, and tasty. In addition, we also ordered a round fresh veggie rolls with peanut sauce. The peanut sauce was spicy and chunky. For their main dish, Aaron and David ordered a red curry with mock chicken and mock shrimp with fried spinach in a peanut sauce. Since we all shared, I was able to taste everything. All of the dishes were fabulous. The green curry was slightly stronger and more pungent than the red curry.

Vivian and her friend Aaron arrived as we were finishing out meal. They ordered the deep fried spring rolls, served with a clear beige coloured dipping sauce. Viv seemed to like what she ate. The menu is crazy. There are so many choices it is difficult to choose. The menu is intimidating. I saw many dishes that seemed appetizing (Thai Eggplant, Mock Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables, Mock Beef Curry, Mock Fish and Shrimp with Vegetables)

 

There is no dairy, but some dishes have egg, which can be omitted by request.

Chuchai has a liquor license and an outdoor terrace in the summertime. Entrees are from $7.95-$12.95. Next door at 4094 Saint-Denis is Chuch, which are owned by the same people, but offer take-out and allow you to bring your own wine. It’s a more casual dining experience and the menu is identical. The deli counter offers more than 50 mouth watering “one day old” dishes, all vegetarian and mostly vegan products, for considerably cheaper prices. They can also heat up the food for you in the microwave, thus making it a little less expensive.