The Ottawa X-press | June 17th, 2004
Khao Thai big on food
By: Aaron Shaw
Yellow curry with chicken and potatoes simmered in coconut milk and served with jasmine rice: the right taste, the right ambiance
Photo: Leah Schnurr
But the range of choice is not for the timid Type: thai
Murray Street is home to some of the city's better eateries: Domus, Black Cat, Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, etc. At least four new spots within the three blocks between Cumberland and Sussex have opened their doors in the past year, and one of the newest and hottest is serving up even hotter Thai cuisine.
Khao Thai Restaurant is a brightly lit eatery with a mix of cream-coloured walls and burgundy and gold wallpaper. Rice paper rubbings adorn the walls and a few open chests that display an interesting assortment of Thai knick-knacks.
This place would be a nightmare for the indecisive. The menu is huge.
Thirteen different soups, 12 salads, 23 vegetarian dishes ... you could eat here once a week and never eat the same thing twice. Given my finite appetite, time and budget, I sampled only a few dishes, but from what I tried, eating here once a week might not be so bad.
I started with the Nam Tok Nua: a cold salad with grilled slices of beef, ground sticky rice, lime juice, onions, sun-dried chillies, chopped carrots and red cabbage. A few of the menu items are marked as being "hot" and this was not one of them, but those chillies sure packed a punch. This dish was oddly addictive with its fascinating range of flavours and a fiery finish. Pubs should dump the salted peanuts and put out bowls of this stuff to encourage patrons to imbibe, it certainly had me slurping my Thai beer with zeal.
The Gaeng Karee Gai: a yellow curry with chicken, potatoes and onions was stunning, tender fowl and tuber in a mild and tantalizing curry. I even ordered more Jasmine rice (in a little wicker basket) to soak up every last drip of the sauce.
The Makua Yaow Len Goong with prawns, eggplant, red and green bell peppers sautéed in a tangy sauce and topped with fresh basil was deftly cooked and its ingredients tasted fresh. The ordered side of noodles were nice and sticky which enabled the sauce to cling to the pasta.
Sadly, we did not get try any of Khao Thai's desserts as the restaurant was caught off guard by success that day. They filled all 40 odd seats at lunch and there was not a vacant seat on a normally quiet Wednesday night. They had sold all of their crème caramel and the mangos were too ripe to serve. In the end we settled for a decent cup of java and a soothing pot of lemon grass tea. And all through the meal, service was exemplary and friendly, even with the unexpected rush.
Khao Thai Restaurant is off to a good start and has me tempted to delve further into their dauntingly large selection.