Toronto Day 4 : Tastes of Thailand & Toronto

In East Scarborough, where I was born and raised. On the playground is where I spent most of my days… So yeah, you get the idea. Scarborough (part of the Greater Toronto Area – GTA for short) is where I grew up after being welcomed into the world at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto.  When you live in a place all your life, you sort of taking everything for granted and you never really explore your neighbourhood. At least, that’s how I felt. Now that I’ve traveled more outside my hometown, and lived in a different city – my eyes are open and I’m much more receptive to quirks and unique highlights a city might have to offer.  I had always thought my research technique was skewed: I would spend countless days researching a foreign city for a quick visit, but barely spend much time researching about the hidden gems of my own home town. What a wasted opportunity for discovery!

So I decided that would all end on this trip to Toronto. After having a fantastic experience with a Chicago Greeter in, well, The Windy City, I decided to check out the equivalent service in Toronto. I hadn’t realized that Toronto had a similar Greeter Program, and it turns out it started not too long ago. A week before I was set to depart Boston for Toronto, I emailed them and they quickly put me in contact with a friendly Torontonian.

Alan (totally strange and coincidental that both greeters had the same name) was very congenial and cracked tonnes of jokes throughout our 2 hour tour of Downtown Toronto. I had requested to check out “Old Toronto” because I really wanted to learn about the history of the older parts of Toronto. The tour led us from “New City Hall” (an ironic place to start an “Old Toronto” tour), through the Underground PATH (also a newer installment in Toronto) up into The BCE Place (or what is now known as the Brookfield Place) and out to the streets of Front (at Yonge).  I’d often run through the underground caves of the PATH system when I was a part of the Rat Race in Toronto. Those were not happy memories and the tour sort of sent them all rushing back (not saying anything bad about the tour – just that working at a big firm was not my idea of enjoyment). We quickly exited to The Brookfield Place. It was always an oasis for me. I loved coming there during my lunch breaks to just enjoy the sunlight (fluorescent lighting really sucked the life out of me) and soak in the beautiful lines of the building.  They had a wonderful art exhibit on display showcasing the World’s Best Photography while we wandered through. I always enjoyed that exhibit (and it returns every year).

The next stop was St. Lawrence Market. On the way there, we stopped to admire Front Street. We learned that Front Street was so named because it used to be along the the waterfront. Everything closer to the lake currently was filled as using landfill to assist in the construction of the eyesore known as the CN railway. Ahh, Toronto city planning at its finest! City councilors have tried their hardest to preserve this lack of foresight in City planning as the city grew as well and that’s why we’re blessed with one of the worst Harbourfronts in the World and that a giant chunk of land near the water’s edge was sold off to Condo Developers, instead of being developed as Greenspace for locals, or something thoughtful to attract tourists. I Heart Toronto.

But I digress. I truly do Heart St Lawrence Market though. I love food and I love history. All of this comes together at St Lawrence Market, which used to be Toronto’s first City Hall. If you visit the 2nd floor, they still have the original Mayoral Throne on display. The market itself is always full of life. I always took a stroll here when I used to work on Bay Street to enjoy a Peameal Bacon on a Bun, or some nice Canadian Maple-roasted Bacon. That was the only good thing I can remember about working downtown. So sad. My favourite stops are always the Canadian Bacon stand at Witteveen Meats near the front entrance, and the Peameal Bacon Breakfast on a Bun at Carousel Bakery. Yums.

It’s neat that if you Google Canadian Bacon (food – not the movie starring John Candy), the Wikipedia posting features one of my old photos! Cool, huh? Anyway, I’ll probably do a feature on my favourite little Toronto spot at a later date, but this tour didn’t allow for me to grab any nibbles of Canadian Bacon, nor to do a full photoshoot of the venue. Another film company was on site though filming some new Canadian Series. I didn’t really stick around to find out what it was, but it sure looked strange. There was a Vegetarian Goth dude running around the market in search of Meat Products. I really had no idea what they were trying to achieve with this segment, but I doubt I’ll be tuning into the final show.

Next up – Lunch! I had a craving for Thai, so we headed to my favourite little Thai joint (in a really sketchy neighbourhood of town though, kiddies, so take care if heading there) in Regent Park. Sukhothai is a great little spot to get some inexpensive, but expertly prepared Thai food. It’s always fresh tasting and invigorating, especially on a cold Winter’s day. It’s simple, but satisfying. If you’re in the area, do check it out. And make sure Chef Nuit cooks for you! I’ve heard it’s just not the same without her.

Her Penang Curry with Fish (Tilapia) is outstanding and the best interpretation I’ve had the pleasure of eating (recently). I only say recently because my mind was blown during a visit to Ithaca, NY to visit E in 2004. There was this spectacular Thai place there that served food that was out of this world. Before that point, I was only exposed to Thai Fast Food like Spring Rolls (really, just an atrocity to food in general). I’m not sure if it was as good as I remember, but I doubt anything can come close in my memory.  That is – until I visit Thailand in Spring 2011! I cannot wait.

The family & I ordered some things off the menu (the Tilapia is also off-menu, so be sure to ask for it. It’s much better than the chicken/beef/shrimp options), including Garlic Shrimp (instead of the Garlic Shrimp on the menu), and Thai Iced Tea. I discovered Thai Iced Tea when I moved to Boston in 2008. All I can say is Wow. I never thought spices and condensed milk in tea could taste so magical! It’s really just junk food, but I really enjoy it (I’m sure my arteries protest every time I order it, but I don’t care. And I don’t care about the bad versions either that use food colouring and perservatives…though I try not to order that variety). It’s a nice treat and a change from my regular Chai Tea. This is definitely a drink I’m going to try to find in Thailand. I’m daydreaming about it right now actually.  Watch when I get there and they don’t even have Thai Iced Tea there and that it’s the equivalent of finding Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls in China. I’ll be so sad (and humiliated).

The food arrives pretty quickly and everything is deftly prepared. Crispy and dry-fried shrimp that definitely shows its freshness through its sweet flavour and crunchy texture. The Thai Iced Tea definitely helped cut the heat in the curries. My family really enjoys spicy food (I can only really handle a little heat). They requested “Thai Spicy” and I’m really happy I had something to temper that heat. The Mango Salad was tasty, spicy and sour. It wasn’t a favourite of mine, but was not too bad a deal for an extra couple of bucks to upgrade to the Combo.  The Guay Tiaw noodle soup was brightly flavoured, but it wasn’t something that matched my tastes that well. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but I would say it was very tasty. I just prefer some of their other dishes better. The Pad Kee Mao was pretty splendid. It was al dente and not at all clumpy like so many other places would prepare a noodle dish. The flavours were punchy and you could really taste the basil that cut through the heat of the dish. The curry was rich and full-bodied and the silken slivers of fish were a perfect medium to transport your taste buds to Thailand.

I’ve heard that Nuit will be quitting soon and leaving her Sous Chef to man (or ‘woman’ in this case) the kitchen. So I’d head there soon if you can. Good luck to Nuit in her Nursing Studies and Practice!

We didn’t have room for dessert this time, but I would recommend trying the tapioca. The texture is great and the flavour of coconut really laces the dish nicely.

Sukho Thai

274 Parliament St
Toronto, ON M5A 3A4, Canada
(416) 913-8846

4 Responses to “Toronto Day 4 : Tastes of Thailand & Toronto”
  1. jared says:

    my gawd those bacon brings back memories. We ate some much bacon from there last time. i liked the maple glazed pork belly bacon they had. the skin was so crunchy and sweet!!! now i am hungry, time for lunch. looking forward to the next post.

    • LOL – I inserted that picture in there just for you ;). I’ll have to search out the pork belly next time!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, nor tried it. Yeah, all I’m eating right now is some chicken curry I made last night in a pinch. I feel so unsatisfied after looking at the Sukho Thai photos. Thanks for visiting & commenting, Jared!!

  2. Fabia says:

    Nuit is leaving?! Noooo….. 😦
    Thanks for another drool-inspiring (love Sukhothai!) and informative post. It’s always nice to learn more about the city and exactly how badly it was planned. Keep ’em coming!

    • I think she’s going to focus on her nursing after graduation. Apparently she just did her certification exam, but once the results are out – she’ll be a full-time nurse. I’m glad you liked the post! Thanks for the positive feedback :). I’ll keep trying to keep it all fresh and informative. Thanks for visiting.

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