Review: Young Thailand
Considering the prevalence of Thai food in Canada (and especially Toronto), it's difficult to imagine that, not long ago, there was only one Thai restaurant in the country. In 1980, Wandee Young opened the groundbreaking Young Thailand to a largely indifferent public -- the enterprise lasted less than a year, but helped give the exotic flavours of Thailand a foothold in the Canadian foodie consciousness. A decade later, Ms. Young again opened Young Thailand to a Canada that was ready to embrace this delicious cuisine. A while ago, I was happy to learn that Young Thailand has temporarily relocated to my neighborhood (2907 Dundas St. West) while its downtown location is renovated. Last week, Dave and I decided to try some takeout from this new spot to celebrate my birthday.
The menu at Young Thailand is extensive, although light on vegetarian dishes. To start, Dave and I ordered the Tofu Tod (deep-fried taro and tofu), For mains, we decided on Goong Kratiam (garlic pepper shrimp) and red curry vegetables with rice, and we rounded out the meal with Khao Nhew Mamuang (mango with sticky rice) for dessert. We were told to come by in 30 minutes to pick up the food.
When Dave got home with the takeout containers, I ripped into them eagerly. I was dissappointed to see that we had been given "mixed vegetables" instead of the red vegetable curry, as I had really been craving this dish. As well, the restaurant was out of the mango dessert, so we substituted Gluay tod (fried honey banana).
The taro and tofu appetizer was really interesting -- the taro was shredded and formed into little patties, then deep-fried, and the tofu was deep fried as-is, in little triangles. A delicious spicy dipping sauce was served on the side, and the subtle sweetness of the crispy taro patties matched well with the heat of the sauce. The tofu triangles were a little underwhelming, but I think anything would taste great paired with that tongue-tingling dipping sauce. The appetizer also came with a fresh mango slaw, whose sourness helped counteract the richness of the deep-fried bites.
Onto the mains! The shrimp, which also came with mango slaw, were coated in a spicy, garlicky sauce that had a nice depth of flavour. The mixed vegetables were served in a salty, soy-based sauce which tasted great soaked up by the fluffy jasmine rice. The veggies were very fresh, and had the perfect amount of crunch left in them. Although I missed the red curry, the mixed veggies were not a bad substitution.
Our dessert of fried banana had gotten a little soggy in the takeout container, so we crisped it in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes, and then drizzled the accompanying honey on top. It was exactly what you would expect from a fried banana -- the batter was pretty standard and the honey was just regular, old honey. This dish could have used some perking up, but it was tasty nonetheless.
After this birthday meal, Dave and I were completely stuffed and satisfied. I would rate Young Thailand's food well above your usual Thai takeout joints, but make sure to clarify your order so as to prevent mixups.
EDIT: So, we tried Young Thailand again and had further problems with order mixups (even after spending 10 minutes on the phone trying to explain our relatively simple order). Add to that some extremely ketchup-y and bland pad thai, and I will not be ordering take-out from Young Thailand again.
EDIT, TAKE TWO: I went to eat-in at Young Thailand tonight and had a very nice experience. The calamari appetizer is light and crispy, with a nice spicy flavour and a GREAT dipping sauce, and the warm glass noodle salad is delicious. Service was attentive and friendly, and they didn't screw up any of our orders. Despite their crappy take-out record with me, I would definitely recommend Young Thailand if you are eating in.
3 piglets out of 10 (take-out)
7 piglets out of 10 (eat-in)
Labels: restaurant review