From hot dog stands to authentic Thai cuisine, dining out in Toronto is criminally good
TORONTO, CANADA – A few months back, I was feeling ambitious enough to try and make pad thai myself. Aside from forgetting to put in the sprouts, I thought my effort was acceptable.
Having eaten at one of Toronto’s great thai joints on my last night, Mengrai, I now realize what I’d cooked was little more than a pathetic excuse of sloppily-concocted calories.
Mengrai’s chef Sasi offers a full thai menu, including numerous pad thai options. I opted for the “Street Pad Thai” which was a perfect texture and amount of spice. On many of these dishes, you can choose how hot you want to go on a 1-10 scale (I opted for the “7″ and it tasted like a “7″ to me, with a little kick that put a little sweat on the brow). The owners go to Thailand regularly to survey new recipes or to just get reacquainted with the Thai flavors. It’s paid off, because it’s become one of Toronto’s best locally-known restaurants in a city full of dining options. Celebrities apparently frequent Mengrai when they’re in Toronto, and the restaurant even caters to movie sets shooting in the area. It’s considered gourmet Thai but the prices are affordable and the atmosphere is casual and as friendly as it gets.
In a melting pot city like Toronto, you know you’re going to eat well. One of the favorite parts about my trip was the diversity of both styles of food and classiness of restaurants. I’m never crazy about trips where every meal has a white table cloth and waiters dressed better than I looked at prom.
Speaking of wait staff, one of the restaurants we dined at on King St. West is an interesting new concept from French chef Marc Thuet and his wife. It’s called “Conviction,” and one of reasons why is because they hire staff with a criminal past.
I know what you’re thinking, “Canada has a legal system?”
But seriously, it’s true. In fact, the waitstaff at this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant will happily tell their background in as much detail as you desire to you if you’re so inclined, so don’t be shy.
Conviction is one of your more fashionable eateries (at least, it feels that way to me, considering most of my meals here in Austin are eaten on picnic tables), but for street food, Toronto offers an abundance of sausage and hot dog stands. At the urging of our city guides, we stopped at a stand on the way to a Blue Jays game where I ordered an Italian sausage, and it hit the spot on a rainy day. It reminding me of the days I’d eat sausage link sandwiches for breakfast with a .5 liter Pilsner Urquell on the cobbled streets of Prague.
So Toronto has a diversity of cultures, a wealth of restaurant options and a buffet of golf courses to choose from. Sounds like a fine summer golf and city trip to me (at least when rain isn’t causing havoc on the RBC Canadian Open). Stay tuned for plenty more out of the dining room and on the course.
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