Okay, I realize that I am treading into treacherous territory here - which I guess is why I've waited a week before sharing this information. Please read this with the understanding that I am in no way qualified to comment on the authenticity of Thai food. This post is strictly related to my experience of a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Last Saturday, I was invited to a pre-opening dinner at the restaurant that has opened (or is about to open) on the southeast corner of Church and Lombard, the former location of a Young Thailand. I think it's called Ivory Thailand, but I went in the back door, so don't quote me on that. The space has been under renovation for what seems like forever, because apparently after it was purchased they discovered that the kitchen and ventilation systems required not just cleaning, but complete replacement. According to residents in the building, they have spent over $750,000 renovating, redecorating, etc., including shipping all of the furniture and decor from Thailand. The owner came by our table to chat, and said that she had also brought the kitchen staff with her from Thailand, but she may have been kidding, I have no idea.
So, the food...in case I haven't stressed it enough, I am no expert...but it was the best Thai meal that I have had in my limited experience. What was remarkable about it to me was that every mouthful was an explosion of flavour, of many flavours, but delicate at the same time. None of that overwhelming heat that I have experienced at other places. Even when I ate a whole chili that was floating in my curry, it had complex, kind of smokey flavours.
While we waited for our meal (it was the first night for everyone, and we were all eating for free, so we gave them a totally free pass on the service that night - I'm sure they'll work out the kinks soon) we ordered some spring rolls. Nothing outrageous about them, but they were tightly rolled, crispy, not greasy, stuffed with shrimpt, nicely presented and very hot. Then we had Spicy Red Curry Shrimp, Tamarind Duck and an order of sauteed mixed vegetables. The curry was lovely, and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. The flavours melded together so nicely, yet I felt that I could taste individual ingredients at the same time, if that makes any sense. I can say without hesitation that the duck was the most tender and moist that I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and the sauce was delicious. The vegetables were colourful, perfectly crisp-tender and very fresh. We ended the meal with beautifully creamy, flavourful mango ice cream.
Two of us could not finish all of the food, and although we weren't paying, my recollection from the menu is that the prices were extremely reasonable. The new furniture is very comfortable - I don't think that I ever went in when it was Young Thailand, but when I would would walk by, people looked like they were really jammed in - tables are generously spaced now. Staff were friendly and helpful.
I don't know diddly about Thai, but I will definitely go back.