How far Would You go for Real Thai Food?

Originally posted on 9/17/2013

It's a perfectly reasonable question. In fact, one guest at our table of food media types bellying up to the trough delivered the old "I'm surprised I don't have a nosebleed!"...you know, the I-never go-north-of-Bloor nosebleed?

In her defense, we were seriously north of where Toronto foodanistas will migrate, unless of course, they're in search of the best Chinese food, and then it's cotton balls up the nose and off to Richmond Hill or Newmarket, no complaining!

Instead we were in the liminal space of The Shops at Don Mills. Liminal, as in, not downtown - hell, not even uptown - and not those farther, more noble reaches of the True Foodie North, or, north of Hwy 7. We were being wined and dined by both Linda Modern Thai and the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand.

Oh, the glamour!

I wore my sequins.

It was all in an effort to educate us silly Canadians about what real, authentic, Thai food is. First up, kids; pad Thai is not a bowl of sticky, red, sweet, ketchup-drowned noodles. No; it's clean and nutty; tart with lime and rich with fishy umami. In other words; holy-crap-have-we-ever-been-mislead-all-of-our-pad Thai-eating-lives!

In the same vein as the much sought-after and hard to achieve AVPN (that's a guarantee of authentic Neapolitan pizza) or the newly proposed, Japanese Restaurant Authentication Plan, any restaurant that bears the Thai Select Thai Cuisine seal means what diners experience in the real deal. That's right; no ketchup noodles.

To be eligible for certification, restaurants must meet the following criteria:

Restaurant must have been in operation at least six months prior to the date of application.

At least 60 percent of dishes offered on the menu must be authentic Thai cuisine and the cooking methods must be the same or very similar to those in Thailand.

Head chefs may be either Thai or other nationalities. In case of non-Thai Head Chefs, the chefs must produce proof of at least a 2-year experience in cooking Thai foods or possess a Thai cuisine training certificate from an accredited institution.

Our meal was gorgeous and delicious!

What I don't have a photo of - because the poor creature was devoured before it made its way to my end of the table for its close up - is their stellar Red Snapper with rustic chili sauce. It's crispy fried whole, on the bone, then ladled over with kefir lime leaves, chili, and garlic. The meat is moist and steamy and the skin is irresistible. If I hadn't been in polite society, I would have gnawed every last morsel of flesh and skin from that carcase. Sequins be damned!

Salmon floss; that's what they call a fish crumble on top of a sweet, vinegary jumble of cucumber threads. Cute, right?

Crispy has got to me my favourite mouthfeel. This crispy beef held it's feathery crunch, even doused in a terrifically creamy Panang curry coconut sauce. Coconut is one of those Thai kitchen essentials that span the flavour palate, from sweet to savoury.

Folks, I'll go just about anywhere in this great city for good eats, so heading up to exciting Don Mills for excellent Thai food is no biggie. In fact, considering the plethora of really fine stuff to be found up there - Katsura, Armenian Kitchen, Fabbrica, Arz and so many more - you'd be silly not to.

Oh, and Thai brunch anyone? Yup. Think: Smoked Asian duck-topped, free-range eggs Benny with spicy Thai Hollandaise on brioche!

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