412 Spadina Avenue
The Thai Bangkok is a lot more decorated than the usual chinatown quick-lunch joints, as it actually has decorations. Wall paneling, paintings and enough (carved) elephants to keep Tony Jaa happy for a month. Then you notice the dirty spots and peeling paint around the edges but for a moment you had the impression you were somewhere nice for your six dollar lunch: enjoy that impression because it's all your money is buying you.
Despite the themed trimmings this eatery does exceptionally poorly on the nationality test (fraction of customers from the same culture as the food), with a total of absolutely zero Thai present (counting the fact that even the visible staff weren't Thai, the place earns negative points). It was pretty easy to check the home country of the eaters too - for most of the meal I was the only one there and I'm Irish. At lunchtime in a spadina/college restaurant that's just tragic.
Hungry and hurried I ordered lunch special #1 (hard to get any faster than that) and it's a damn good thing I did because lunch special #1, at lunchtime, took twenty minutes to arrive. If I'd ordered anything else I might still be there.
I honestly cannot review the spring roll because I inhaled it, having become so hungry my body was trying to photosynthesize or absorb the tablecloth through osmosis. This lessened my crippling need for food enough to appreciate the hot and sour soup, much to my regret. When the most basic starter possible for any chinatown restaurant takes twenty minutes to prepare you expect something special. Hand polished tofu with beansprouts plucked by specially trained experts, carefully ladled into a platinum bowl and mixed precisely by multimillion dollar perfectionist robots. You do not expect a bag of starch dumped in hot water by the chef during a break in Judge Judy. The spicy beef was an an exemplar in lazy food, a paragon of a spicy meal made wrongly: tough lumps of meat with chunks of flavourless plastic masquerading as peppers glued together by a thick and utterly effortless sauce. I don't mean effortless as in "the masterful chef effortlessly created a wonderful taste", I mean "the person who happens to work in the kitchen expended absolutely no effort in making this". Turning the plate over I expected to find "Screw you, stupid foreigner, you don't know real food anyway" written on the bottom. Of course I didn't - they had no need to waste ink when they'd clearly expressed that message in the food.
Every time I see this place it's deserted. Keep it that way.
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