A friend and I ventured out to Young Thailand's new location at the Junction (Dundas W by Keele). As some of you know, I'm sort of a cranky old Thai snob around these parts. My introduction to Thai food occurred just over a decade ago by a friend of mine who insisted on dragging my at-the-time culinarily naive self to Young Thailand, where I fell in love with the cuisine and had my mind opened up to trying different styles of Asian cooking. Ever since then, I've had a soft spot for Wandee's restaurants and particularly her cookbooks, which I found to be a gentle introduction to Thai cooking for complete beginners, and the perfect text to lead up to the more intricate tomes of Thai cookery.
I know that YT went through a very strong downhill period for awhile, but prior to the move, I gave their Church Street location another try and was quite impressed: it seemed that the quality was coming back. I was very much hoping that this would carry across to the new location.
The new restaurant is simple but elegant without being grotesquely trendy, and quite soothing inside. Plenty of space between tables, soft lighting, and lovely decorations. Like the Church Street location once was many years ago before they lowered the quality, it felt like a quiet, soothing haven after the hubbub of Toronto and TTC.
We were given complimentary shrimp chips and peanut dipping sauce upon our arrival, which was a nice touch, and we opted to start with the special appetizer platter, which featured generous quantities of food - golden baskets, tofu cold rolls, shrimp spring rolls, wontons, green mango salad, and chicken satays - served with hot sauce and more peanut sauce. Everything was mediocre at worst and pretty good at best, but none of the appetizers were outstandingly memorable. I think next time I would choose the vegetarian spring rolls instead, which were always very good at her previous locations.
For the entrees, we chose marinated grilled chicken, drunken noodles, and jungle curry of chicken with jasmine rice. The portions were stunningly large, and an entree is well more than enough for one person. We knew we'd be taking significant quantities of leftovers home, and we didn't much oppose that. The grilled chicken was delicious: a huge portion of tender, flavourful chicken strips served with a hot - sweet - sour sauce that served as a perfect foil to the very spicy jungle curry. The jungle curry was our least favourite: it tasted somewhat unbalanced, and the spiciness (to which I consider myself to hold a fairly high tolerance) overwhelmed the other more subtle flavours. I suppose it's a matter of taste, because my partner happily devoured the leftovers when I brought them home and seemed to enjoy them profusely. The drunken noodles, IMO, were delicious, just like pad kee mow should be: spicy, slurpy, with lots of soy and basil permeating the dish. My friend, on the other hand, didn't like them at all due to some flavour she had trouble pinpointing (I expect that it was a fairly large quantity of oyster sauce).
For drinks, I chose a simple martini-style margarita (which was very good and exactly what I had been craving), and my friend had a Singapore Sling. The drinks were outrageously cheap by Toronto restaurant standards, both being under $6 apiece.
The service was very prompt, attentive, and friendly, although they did bring our entrees before we had finished our appetizers. This didn't bother me, but it might irk some. I'm a heavy drinker of water, and not once in the evening was my glass empty.
Everything (including drinks), before tip, came to around $65, which I felt was insanely reasonable given that the amount of food resulted in enough leftovers for another meal apiece. While I still don't feel that it's one of the best Thai restaurants I've enjoyed, it certainly was the best Thai restaurant I've eaten at in Toronto, and I would quite happily return in a moment.
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