We recently went out to eat at Khao San Road in the Entertainment District. It was a hot, humid evening and the want to have some really rich Thai food had somehow been on our mind.
Unlike most Thai restaurants, Khao San Road has a very minimalistic and modern look with no sights of Buddha statues or lavish images of temples. Instead, it’s a fairly sparse and white space, and a bit uninteresting except for some vintage photographs, works by a local artist (for sale?) and the expected chalkboard wall listing the menu. I think the space would look gorgeous in the day time when you can get natural light… The menu was relatively short with the all the staples: pad thai (regular and street style), thai curries, etc, along with some items that I’ve never seen served at restaurants before, such as shrimp chips as appetizers. (But at $5, I didn’t consider it worthwhile – but maybe the chef makes it from scratch?)
That it has acquired a near cult following was pretty clear from the two times we went there (Sunday and Tuesday, both times it was packed). As we were waiting to get seated on our second and successful try, we witnessed a couple of people already confirming reservations for their next visit right after they finished dining! There was also a group in line who seemed like weekly regulars as well. We were obviously impressed!
…So, was the food that good?
I think it is definitely one of the better meals you’ll get in the Entertainment District. It’s good food (and the portions are big) with a nice casual atmosphere and friendly service. The service is actually a bit on the slow side, so try not to go there if you’re starving or in a hurry.
We ordered the Thai iced tea (which came in a suspicious orange colour, but tasted like strong milky black tea – overly sweet and kinda surprisingly refreshing), a mango juice and the chicken sausage summer rolls. Leo’s pad thai was pretty good, considering I don’t generally like pad thai.
However, what blew me away was a dish called Khao Soi (a Northern Thai curry egg-noodle dish). It was a beautiful and filling hot bowl of aromatic goodness, my mouth is watering as I think of it right now. I’m not sure if a spicy curry broth is the thing to order when there’s an oppressive heat clinging to the city, but I couldn’t resist trying it after spying someone else eating it. It looked and smelled absolutely delicious, and unlike many things in life, this Northern Thai dish did not disappoint at all. The curry was rich and creamy from the coconut milk, and spicy with the kind of heat that hits you right away. (All that sweating made me feel like I was performing some sauna cleansing ritual.) There was a ominous layer of red oil at the surface, but that was quickly overlooked as I slurped away. I ordered my Khao soi with some very tender beef that melted away as I took a bite, just perfect. My one criticism is that there wasn’t enough green onions, which were listed as a main component. I think they would have been a very much welcomed addition and brought out more flavours to the broth. The crispy noodles that it came with were fantastic! If I was brave and had a stomach of steel, I would have finished the entire bowl, oily soup and all.
After Korean soon tofu, khao soi is probably my favourite comfort food dish now. Feeling so glad I live in Toronto right now!