Suburban Girl Eats: From Big City Eats to Hometown Favourites

September 14, 2012

Urban: Pad Thai Throw Down

There is nothing I love more than carbs and loads of flavour; my love affair with pad thai seems only natural. With lacklustre food court fare as the only "Thai" option in suburbia, you can often find me digging into a small mountain of pad thai downtown after work or on the weekend.

Now, I am not one to pick favourites, but there are certainly some places in the restaurant "doghouse". Pitted against each other are two of my top places to carb-load on pad thai. Heck, if they can't get a staple like pad thai right, that's a darn shame!

Urban Thai
638 College Street

I certainly didn't expect good Thai food smack dab in the middle of Little Italy, but Urban Thai doesn't disappoint. The restaurant is small, yet finding a seat is typically easy. If you're stopping by with a large group, I would recommend a reservation as tables are limited. You can also grab Urban Thai's menu to go- they do a booming take-out business- or get delivery from Just-Eat

The Star Attraction
Curry chicken pad thai. It's a heavier, but more flavourful, version of the regular pad thai which you can get topped with chicken, shrimp, beef or vegetables. I am partial to Urban Thai's curry pad thai, which has robust flavours and is coated in a creamy sauce. Many other curry pad thai dishes I have tried have been dry and notoriously neon yellow from excessive use of powdery seasonings- ick! Bean sprouts, peanuts, green onion and herbs are all served on the side- feel free to mix-and-match to your taste. The portions here are huge, so get a doggie bag; the pad thai is even better day two. 

In Supporting Roles 
  • Calamari. Crispy coating, never chewy and served with a fish sauce-based dip. 
  • Sangria. White or red loaded with fruits for only $14 a pitcher. Student budget-friendly is always a plus in my books. 
  • Free ice cream. The free mango, green tea or red bean ice cream need not only be a staple of all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants, so save room! 

326 Adelaide Street W.

I am guilty. After Khao San Road opened last year, I attempted in vain to get a reservation before filing it away on my exhaustive "to go" list. After a pad thai horror story, my co-worker told me I was nuts for not opting for Khao San Road. I decided to buck up and cross it off the list finally, but not before enduring the wait. No, they don't do reservations anymore, but keep calm and nom on. 

The Star Attraction

Chef's Special Pad Thai. This stuff is the real deal. Perfectly coated noodles coated with their tamarind sauce that is sweet, sour and savoury. Loaded with scrambled egg, tofu and bean sprouts, then topped with peanuts and lime juice, this dish is the perfect meal. While Yelp is all abuzz about the Khao Soi, this is the dish that will keep me coming back. 

In Supporting Role

If I could get an "I Heart" (foodie-style) t-shirt, it would be for the Gra Bong squash fritters. Sweet from the squash, spicy from the red curry paste in the batter (very pakora-like) and crispy from the deep fryer- these babies are delicious. As if they weren't already awesome, they are served up with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. You will need a bucketload of it. Six fritters come in an order, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do: sharing is for wussies. 

Image source. 

Khao San Road by the narrowest of margins and really it's because of those squash fritters that I still dream about, leaving shameful drool stains on my pillow. 
Now if only they had sangria... 


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