Golden Thai

Golden Thai
105 Church
(416) 868-6668

 

Located right near Saint Lawrence Market, Corktown, the Village of York, and just south of the gay village, this place just sticks out because of its large ornate sign, located right at the corner of Church and Richmond. Inside, it’s even more ornate, bordering on kitsch. With decorative paintings, knick knacks, and other ephemera, it’s like stepping into Thailand. You really get a feel for the sights when you are immersed in photographs, art, and other paraphernalia of Thailand.

I was really impressed to find out that Golden Thai was very accomodating and respectful of vegetarians. It says it clearly on the first page of the menu. They claim that they are very aware of vegetarian’s needs and they know what is and what is not vegetarian.

In terms of seating arrangment, the restaurant is one big room, open concept, in one large dining hall. Some tables are round and some are rectangular and they are spaced out well and the place is not congested or crowded with people, unlike other places like Juice for Life, or Salad King.

Most dishes are between $8.95-$12.95 for entrees only. I ordered a tofu stir fry with cashews and it was fresh and simply wonderful. I asked for extra hot, as it was not an spicy dish to begin with. Food is fresh but portions are kind of small if you do not order rice. Next time I’ll order the Thai Eggplant. The menu is large and extensive and there are many vegetarian options. The waiter was very friendly and accomodating and my dinner companion (Wendy) would have liked to have him on the menu as she did fancy him. To conclude, I love the open concept, cathedral ceilings,wonderful service, appreciation to vegerarians, and the fact that they accept VISA, cash, and Interac.

Salad King (post-renovation)

335 Yonge Street
(416) 971-7041

Bright lights, shiny decor, metallic, kind of postmodern, hip, trendy, industrial (sort of), right in the middle of downtown at Ryerson University. Seats are very close together, almost packed in like sardines. Don’t bring someone on a first date here, it’s not a romantic place to dine. The menu is a plain piece of paper, like a placemat. This place serves Thai fast food, that is fresh, flavourful, hot, and spectacular looking.

The dishes are served on funky, trendy plates, and dishes are colourful and cool. I ordered the Bangkok Stir Fry with vermacelli noodles, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, peanut, (hold the egg) and the sauce was this spicy, aromactic sesame oil based glaze…tres yummy! I found out four visits later that the Bangkok stir fry was not completely vegetarian but made with fish sauce. Salad King’s staff are notorious for being unaware of vegetarians’ needs.

I tried again to find the perfect meal in my second visit. I was determined to find a dish that would be filling, tasty, and completely vegetarian. I ordered a spicy tofu dish with Chili level “3”, hold the white rice. For a side dish I had the cold veggie rolls with peanut sauce. The peanut sauce was most likely made with fish sauce but I only found out after the fact. The cold rolls were excellent. The spicy tofu dish was outstanding. I later found out that the Spicy Tofu was also made with fish sauce. As it turns out the word “vegetarian” means nothing to Salad King. I did not know fish was considered a vegetable. All waiters and waitress may be nice but they are unaware of the ingrediants in their dishes.

On my third and fourth visit, I found out that all items on the Veg. Lover’s menu (Emerald Tofu, Country Tofu, Golden Tofu, Spicy Tofu, Vegetarian Hot Thai Noodle, Vegetarian Bangkok Sir Fry, and Vegetarian Kari noodle) are all made with fish sauce except Golden Tofu and Country Tofu. The concept of vegetarian is not clear to this restaurant. The staff claim that these items are vegetarian when in fact they are not. You have to grill the waitress to actually admit that these dishes are made with fish sauce. Even the delicious cold rolls are vegetarian but the dipping sauce is made with fish sauce. At Salad King, it’s a don’t ask, don’t tell policy where innocent vegetarians must take the risk since staff won’t tell you if items are completely vegetarian. It has been a frustrating experience even more for me since all dishes come with rice and I do not eat it. Without rice, these dishes are not filling since portions are so small

My first dish was a bit dry, not saucy enough for my liking and not enough vegetables. Level is spice is on a “Chili” scale from 1-5. I have ordered dishes ranging from “Chili 1” to “Chili 5” and these dishes were all very good, yet not spicy enough. Hmmphh. Meals are from $5.95-$7.95. Strict vegetarians beware!

Reviewed by Mark

Ban Vanipha

 

From the outside, there seems something a little off putting about this Thai/Laotian restaurant. Perhaps it is the immediate area on Dundas West that it encompasses, not quite apart of Chinatown or Kensington Market but comprising its own little mini area with two other restaurants to the west. After dining here twice; however, all of my doubts have been neatly put to rest due to the delicious fare and thoughtful service that is provided.

My first visit, I was taken here by a friend for my birthday. I had never tried Laotian food before and I couldn’t even pronounce any of the items on the menu. Thankfully, my friend had recently been to Laos and knew exactly what to order. We took our time by sharing several appetizers , a chicken, vegetable and seafood main, and dessert to finish. I don’t recall exactly what each dish was but we were both duly impressed. The atmosphere of the restaurant is completely laid back and serene which is a nice respite coming off the busy Dundas strip.

My second visit here was different from the first. Instead of sitting and “dining”, we ordered and ate quickly. The staff were quite attentitve to our needs and sensed that we did not desire to have a long drawn out meal. The quality to sense what pace the customer wants to eat is difficult for wait staff to master but can be crucial to enjoying a meal.

This time around I remember we ordered the Khao Glum for an appetizer which was black sticky rice and beans wrapped in a banana leaf with a side of spicy sauce. A tad difficult to share, but tasty nonetheless. For our main course we shared two dishes. A chicken dish called Ping Gai, was, according to the menu, spiced “Laotian style”. I’m not sure what that means exactly but it was very well seasoned and came with a delicious coriander sauce. We also had a shrimp dish called “ping gou yai”. The tiger shrimp were huge and juicy and came with grilled zucchini and a grilled tomato. I would have preferred to take my time, but my friend was in more of a rush. Despite this, it was still an enjoyable meal and I will be happy to return here again.

Salad King (pre-renovation )

Salad King
335 Yonge Street
(416) 971-7041

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly healthy sounding name. Salad King serves up some of the best, Thai food in the entire city.

Located across the street from Sam the Record Man and the Ryerson Campus, this mainly, university student hangout works more like a cafeteria than a restaurant. If you are looking for a drawn out, sit down meal this is not the place. However, if you want good food and do not mind getting used to the methods I guarantee you will be more than satisfied.

To order, one stands in line winding its way around the tables in front. This can make for a rather unpleasant experience for the people sitting there, something to take note of when deciding where to sit. Be sure to figure out what you want to order before reaching the cashier or you may find yourself on the hotseat with several hungry regular patrons breathing down your neck. It is best that on first visit you go with a seasoned veteran who knows what to order and how. This is especially true when it comes to deciding what level of spice to order. Salad King has a 1-10 rating for their spicing with 1 being the mildest and 10 something that no sane person should try. I always order a level 3 and I am a fan of spicy food. I’ve only known one person to order a level 4 and she had just returned from a year in India!

If ordering your meal seems like an uneeded pressure at lunch, picking up your meal can be equally as strenuous. After ordering, you are provided with a number which is eventually announced over a loudspeaker when your meal is ready. Hearing your number over the din of the crowd and the thick accent of the speaker requires intense concentration. Don’t worry, after a few visits you will get the hang of it.

Now to the good part. My favourite dish is not even listed on the menu but is out of this world. It is called Thai Islamic Noodles and comes piping hot in a coconut red curry sauce with shrimp and chicken. It is very filling and almost always scrumptious. Salad King also offers

If the negatives seem to outweigh the positives from this review then you are obviously not as interested in the food aspect of a restaurant as I am. What initially may seem like a hassle eventually becomes a tradition upon repeated visits to this most excellent establishment.

Urban Bistro

1959 Queen E
(416) 691-2999

*almost identical menu to Urban Thai in Little Italy

Nestled right in the heart of the “Beaches” neighbourhood, this cosy, small restaurant with excellent Thai food. I enjoyed the spicy peanut vegetable stir fry with tofu for $8.95 and my friend had the same type of stir fry but with Chicken. Drinks are large and overpriced so ask for a lot of water instead. Prices are not too high (about $9.95 for an entree) and portions are big. There is a nice back terrace for hot summer afternoons. Cash and all cards accepted.

Diners Thai

395 Danforth Av
(416) 466-9222

What a serious disappointment. The menu is very large but there is nothing vegetarian. There is a list of dishes with vegetables but the waitress and cooks, (who are seen at the back of restaurant with a perpetual smile) do not know if the food is vegetarian or not.) Ignorance is bliss so don’t bother asking if the food is vegetarian, they certainly do not know what their sauce or dishes are made with.
Most items contain oyster sauce and the only item which seemed truly vegetarian was this boring tasteless tofu stir fry with soy sauce. I was not impressed. The ambiance is nothing special, 6-8 tables, no decor, waiting staff who don’t very much about the food they serve. The menu is very extensive with meat, chicken, pork, and seafod dishes, “house specials,” which mean traditional Thai dishes, an extensive wine and digestif menu, and a small dessert and drink menu. I think there is great potential but the menu is too large, too detailed for the carnivore. There is nothing substantial for the vegetarian. There is a small list of “vegetable” dishes but it does not mean vegetarian. For an appetizer I had fresh cold rolls with rice paper, tofu, carrot, cilantro, in peanut sauce. I ordered six slices and it was very fresh and tasty. For dinner I order Tofu Goreng without oyster sauce. The meal consisted of this muddy, beefy, salty looking sauce with strips of wonderful tofu and sauteed vegetables. It came with Basmati rice, but I did not eat it (waste of carbs). In sum I would not recommend this place for a vegetarian because the waitress and cooks were stringing me along with “I don’t knows” and “I think so” and “yes, it’s completely vegetarian- we think.” Come on.

Prices are between $8.95-$12.95 for meals that are medium sized. Menu is fairly small.

Mai Thai

2364 Yonge St
Tel: (416) 488-2250

 

Small restaurant in the Yonge and Eglinton area on Yonge about one block north of Eglinton. Serves traditional and typical Thai dishes. Lunch specials (only on the weekday, forget about asking about weekend lunch specials) are $6.95 and include the typical Ginger Chicken
Basil Chicken, Basil Beef, Spicy Squid Tofu, Eggplant Delight, Beef or Chicken with Oyster Sauce
Red Beef or Chicken Curry, Green Chicken Curry, Vegetable Curry. Other meals come with rice and they include Pad Thai, Pad See-Ew, Thai Salad, Vegetarian Pad Thai, and Chicken or Vegetarian Fried Rice.

Starters include a variety of soups (Thai Hot and Sour, lemon prawn, Thai vegetable, Thai won ton, Spicy vegetable, and seafood soup, as well as traditional salads (Thai salad, beef or chicken salad, seafood salad, glass noodle salad, curry salad), calamari, and a variety of satays (skewers of meat, chicken, or tofu with vegetables), all $3.95-$7.95.

Mains include a variety of Thai Curries, Fish & Seafood dishes, Stir-Fried Dishes,
Vegetable & Tofu dishes, and Rice & Noodle dishes. All mains are priced $9.95-$16.95. Average price of an entree is $10.95. Some dishes I’ve had in the past are the Eggplant Delight
($8.95), Sweet & Sour Tofu ($8.95) , Tofu Cashew Nuts, ($9.95) , and the Mixed Vegetable with Tofu ($8.95)

Other non vegetarian dishes include the Mango chicken, Garlic Chicken, Ginger chicken, Basil Chicken, Cashew Chicken, and the Glass Noodle Chicken, all $10.95. Some beef dishes include the Sweet Basil Beef, Beef with Oyster Sauce, Spicy Beef, Oriental Greens with Beef, all $10.95. A large variety of shrimp and fish dishes. Some include garlic shrimp, spicy shrimp, cashew shrimp, mango fish delight, basil squid, steamed mussels, and basil prawns.

Mai Thai also serves a variety of fish, chicken, and beef curries all containing the traditional flavours of mango, basil, ginger, tamarinds, and garlic. Most rice and noodle dishes are curries that come with rice. Some include basil fried rice, yellow curry chicken with rice, chicken with cashew nuts and rice, the traditional and classic Pad Thai, and spicy noodles with vegetables and chicken breast. Rice and noodle dishes are priced from $9.95-$12.95
Ambiance is slighty too dark and dining area is quite small. Washrooms are located on the upper level where the dining hall is reserved for private functions, parties, and social functions. Food was fresh and enjoyable, a bit salty, but good portions. I was not generally happy with the service. Staff were not friendly and dishonest. They were resistant to show us the lunch menu, (they had allowed us to select items from the more affordable lunch menu before) but due to a quiet Saturday afternoon, they forced us to choose items from the more expensive dinner menu. I will never go back there again. Accepts all cards.

Circle Thai

1521 Yonge 
(416) 924-8467

Fine, elegant ambiance, right in the heart of Yonge and St. Clair. Offering creative dishes like Mango Fish, Circle Thai Lobster, and Rack of Lamb. Circle Thai has an extensive menu with some vegetarian selections. Served on large plates, with linen napkins and tablecloths, this place is very chi chi poo poo. Portions are normal and food is very fresh and flavourful. The ambiance is slightly fancy and a bit upscale.

I ordered the thai vegetarian curry with sauted vegetables and tofu [YUM]. Prices are $9.95 and up. They serve amazing cold mango vegetarian rolls but the peanut sauce is not chunky enough for my likings. Elegant ambiance and right in the heart of Yonge and St. Clair.

Friendly Thai, The

500 Queen W
(416) 366-1221

Very funky, exotic ambiance, dimly lit, soothing, calm, atmosphere. They have a variety of mildly spicy, spicy, and very spicy authentic Thai dishes with many vegetarian selections. On my first visit to The Friendly Thai in September 2001, I ordered the vegetable stir fry with cashews and the portion was large and there were so many vegetables, it was a paradise for me. The sauce was wonderful and I was quite full. On my other visits, I had the vegetarian hot and sour soup which was very piping hot, very spicy and very fresh and flavourful. I then had the green vegetarian curry ( they also serve a red curry) with tofu and vegetables. Portions are decent and the food is fresh and tasty. Most items contain fish sauce or anchovy paste so if you are vegetarian, please notify staff. They are very accomodating.

Prices are reasonable, some below $10.00 but expect to pay between $10-$15 a plate. Very large menu with a vegetarian section. Many locations in the city but surprisingly does not have that “restaurant chain” ambiance. This particular location is in the heart of Queen West between Spadina and Bathurst.