Despite the construction fences blocking off pretty much the entire front entrance, not to mention the restaurant’s sign, this place was packed to the brim. I arrived just before 6 pm, and got the very last 2 seats in the joint. The service is friendly and down to earth, treating you as if you’ve been friends for years and are coming over for dinner. There are 3 areas to the dining section: a bar type table where open windows face the street, two long high tables where you are elbow to elbow with the person sitting beside you, and your standard tables and chairs layout. Being the last spots in the restaurant, we were seated at the long high table. It looks crowded, but once you are in your seat there is more than enough room for your drinks, food and to be comfortable.
To drink, they offer the classic Thai beer, Singha, which has been around since 1933. Personally I didn’t order this, however almost everyone else in the restaurant did. I opted for a more flavourful drink, and decided to try the mango juice. I HIGHLY recommend this drink. It didn’t taste like all the crap you buy from the grocery store full of sugar, but like fresh mangos had just been blended and served to me. If you have ever had mango, you know how a good one bursts with flavour and has that great summer freshness to it; well this drink had all of that. It is a MUST try when you check this place out.
They offer 2 types of Pad Thai; a traditional “street style” or the chef’s special. I ordered the chef’s special and my friend decided to order the street style. We didn’t order any appetizers, however the people beside us ordered a breaded shrimp dish that looked delicious and I will have to test out for you all next time.
The food comes in generous portions served on large square plates. The first sign of a good Pad Thai is how the sauce looks on the noodles. From first glance, it was very thick and more than covered all the rice noodles (+1). This was a plus in my book as I like to have a nice saucy Pad Thai. Crushed peanuts covered the top of the dish giving a very nice presentation. Sticking my fork into the noodles and mixing everything up, none of the rice noodle stuck to each other (+1). The smell was very strong, having that authentic tamarind smell every good Pad Thai should have. The first bite overwhelmed me with flavour. The sauce was rich and flavourful, having a little kick to it because I had ordered mine spicy. I found the peanut flavour to be a little too overpowering at the beginning, but as I ate into the dish and mixed everything up a little more, this subsided and a more Thai flavour was brought out. It may not seem important, but the size and type of noodle is very important to a good pad thai. Too thin, they won’t be able to hold enough sauce, too thick they will be too hard to eat. These rice noodles were similar in size to linguini noodles, and were cooked perfectly. I liked this size of noodle because it is able to absorb a lot of flavour, and it makes the dish easy to eat.
The street style Pad Thai looked very similar to the chef’s style, however there was a lot less peanut garnish. The sauce was similar to the chef’s style, a little thinner but still abundant, however the flavour was lacking a bit. The dish did have a nice authentic Thai smell and taste, however when comparing it to the chef’s style, there was a little something missing in my opinion.Both dishes were great. The street style offers a well-prepared classic Pad Thai and the chef’s style gives you that classic Pad Thai with a little more guts a lot more punch.
So far Khao San Road hits the top charts for Pad Thai in Toronto, however there are many more unexplored treasures. Stay tuned for more reviews and keep on following the quest for the ultimate Pad Thai!