Thursday, June 17, 2010

I ♥ Sukhothai

Many people often ask me where I would recommend for Thai food, or in other words, what is my favourite Thai restaurant? Before having dinner a few weeks ago at Sukhothai, I would've answered "Sorry, I have no idea". Not that I don't like Thai food, I love Thai food. It's just that I honestly haven't been to any Thai restaurant in Toronto that has "WOW'ed" me, so I feel like there was no point in telling people about those average-at-best Thai restaurants. 

There are several Thai restaurants that I've been to where I would come out afterwards feeling indifferent. Or worse, I would feel like I ate something that had an identity crisis. Not sure if you know what I mean, but for example at Spring Rolls, their menu consists of dishes from Cantonese dim sum, to Szechuan noodles, Vietnamese pho, to Japanese chicken teriyaki, Thai mango chicken, and back the good ol' Chinese wonton soup. Once I had the mango chicken there and I felt like I was eating sweet and sour chicken, which can also pass for a Chinese dish. So what is Spring Rolls exactly? I know I know, Spring Rolls' theme is "Pan-Asian" so it has an excuse to provide such variety, but it doesn't help when every dish they serve at the place is so...blah. Not only targeting Spring Rolls, I find that a lot of "Thai" restaurants these days are trying to please too many people by adopting this "Pan-Asian" approach. Do you get my point?  Even if you don't, I was just sick of these "jack-of-all-trades" places that label themselves as a "Thai" restaurant but at the same time having a menu that's 80% non-Thai. I gave up on trying to find a decent and authentic Thai restaurant after awhile. 

About two months ago, a friend of mine, Anthony, told me about Sukhothai. He told me that it is his favourite Thai place and I must go try it out. He says it has a small menu but serves very authentic Thai food and that I must go early because it is a very small restaurant with only 6-7 tables. He recommended me a few dishes to try there and told me he was sure I wouldn't be disappointed. Let me just say now that everything he said to me is 100% accurate.

My friend Julia and I went one day after work. It wasn't busy then but that's because we were there around 5:30 or so. We didn't doubt that it would become very busy later on since Sukhothai is located pretty close to Ryerson University.

The laminated menu is small yet very colourful with a picture for each dish. And yes, every dish on the menu is Thai.

Some of the restaurant's specialties are also listed on the chalkboard.

Another small cute chalkboard teaches you Thai.

There are many newspaper clippings shown around the restaurantEven on Sukhothai's website, you will find numerous reviews about the restaurant from Toronto Sun, Toronto Life, NOW magazine, blogTO, etc (by the way, I love the design of their website).

We ordered the dishes that Anthony recommended. The first one being the Garlic Chicken and O.M.G, this was so delicious!!! These deep fried chicken pieces were done to PERFECTION and I'm not kidding about this. The chicken pieces were breaded ever so thinly, and yet they were unbelievably crispy. Although fried, the chicken were juicy on the inside and were not greasy or oily at all

Dip the chicken into Suhkothai's home-made sweet and sour garlic sauce, and really, you will feel like you can eat garlic chicken the whole night and nothing else. I highly recommend this! Garlic tofu is an alternative to chicken for the vegetarians out there.

The second dish we ordered is Khao Soi. This is unlike anything I've had before at a Thai restaurant (probably because they weren't authentic enough to have this dish). This is a spicy yellow noodle in coconut curry gravy, green onions, coriander, topped with light crispy noodles (fried to order). The mixture of the crispy noodle and the noodle in curry soup provided a really cool difference in texture. And as for the curry gravy? Well let's just say it was so good I probably wouldn't mind drinking it by itself. 

According to their website, Khao Soi is a specialty dish from Northern Thai. You can choose either beef or chicken (we had the beef).

Lastly, we ordered the Sukhothai Pad Thai. Again, this is a Northern Thai version of Pad Thai, and this is seriously the best Pad Thai I've ever had. The rice noodles are chewy, and it is full of tofu, egg, shrimp, chicken, crisp bean sprouts, sharp chives, and peanuts. The fresh lime juice and the sweet-and-sour tang of tamarind made me realize what a Pad Thai should really taste like. 

With this Sukhothai Pad Thai, you will NOT taste ketchup because it is KETCHUP-FREE! Very very crucial point if you're sick of eating Pad Thai that looks a bit too red and taste a bit too sweet (*cough* Spring Rolls *cough*).

A warning before you go. Sukhothai is usually very busy around lunch and dinner time, so make sure you go early to avoid disappointment. There will also be a line of takeout fans that keeps the kitchen very busy. Don't expect quick service either, this family owned business seems to work at their own pace (it took quite a long time to get our waters filled), but since the food was so good and I wasn't in a hurry, I didn't mind this little set back.

One minor complaint. Not sure if it was only this time, but we were asked whether we wanted our Khao Soi and Sukhothai Pad Thai to be mild, medium, or hot in terms of spicyness. Although we chose medium, the Pad Thai didn't turn out hot at all, and the Khao Soi was maybe "mild" (very very mild). And I know sometimes when you ask a person who love spicy food whether something is spicy or not, they may say "no" even if it was spicy (I may be one of those people), so to be fair, let me just tell you that even my friend Julia, who can't take anything hot, says the Pad Thai wasn't hot at all. So keeping this in mind, I may order "hot" next time I go to Sukhothai.

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