Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Hanging out in our potential new hood - Roncey - The Friendly Thai

Spicy Noodles with Chicken (Pad Kee Mao) - the Friendly Thai
D was not thrilled at the prospect of moving to Toronto though it was his job moving us!  We are insistent that we want to live in a part of the big city that still offers that 'village' feel.  Green tree-lined streets, variety of people, grocery stores, restaurants, specialty stores all withing walking distance.  The idea of weekends driving from box store to box store in some cookie cutter suburb or in some glassed up condo makes me cringe.  Roncey sort of reminds of Commercial in Vancouver.  EXCEPT! you will not find a Starbucks on it.  The area has strived quite hard to avoid the big chains opening up, thankfully.

So, woefully as we miss the Wet Coast and the fresh fish, I am glad that Toronto is great for Thai food .  IT's everywhere and has a decent range of price and quality.  That's been my perception anyway as I've been visiting in and out for the last decade visiting the folks.  Vancouver was not so good with the Thai food.  We settled on a couple of places as our go-to but, yeah, no where I'd be recommending visiting friends to try as a point of their visit.  You'd sooner recommend they try seafood or sushi.

There we were after a disappointing round of househunting and we were strolling down Roncey.  I popped in and out of cute shops like the Mercantile while D patiently waited on the sidewalk, since we were on a lunch run after all.  What was I craving he asked?  I said sushi.  I am always craving sushi as a default.  We walked past one that didn't feel inviting.  IT was dark and smelled of old tempura oil... or was it the deli next door grilling Kielbasa on their doorstep.  Anyhoo, we walked on.  I saw a lunch special sign outside the Friendly Thai for a Shrimp Curry Phad Thai, I was set and so was D.

Oddly enough, he didn't order the special... I grumbled as I thought of all the big houses in High Park we couldn't afford and there goes another 5 bucks :^P.  He ordered the Phad Kee Mao or Spicy Noodle.  That was odd to me.  Though Vancouver isn't great at Thai food, they put the proper names next to the dishes.  They didn't have D's preferred dish of Phad See Ew, nor did our server know what it was.  I suggest the Kee Mao cuz that is normally my favourite because I love the Thai Basil. 

Shrimp Curried Pad Thai - the Friendly Thai - Roncey
They both came out reasonably quickly and piping hot.  The portions were on the generous side for lunch which pleased me.  It wasn't a skimpy lunch special portion.  Mine was a luscious coconut based curry Phad Thai heaped with Tofu and Shrimp.  The sauce was tasty and just on the right edge of not too rich.  D's was really good as well.  They grilled all the veg and chicken before stir frying it so it had a nice smokey grilled flavour that went quite well with the sauce.  The portions did in the end beat us.  Of course we had bought some wasabi edamame at the Mercantile and some baked goods from the girls soccer team having a bake sale up the street.

The design is clean and modern without being pretentious.  They have a lovely folding door in the front to let the spring in now that days are sunny and blue.

Ambiance: Modern, clean
Cost: $-$$
Service: friendly and prompt
Family friendly: space for a stroller is very tight and the toilets are downstairs
The Friendly Thai
(416) 535-0111
 Roncesvalles Village
223 Roncesvalles
Toronto, ON

for Casual Thai Food

The Friendly Thai on Urbanspoon


Friday, May 04, 2012

Caved and bought Toronto Lunch Sushi - The Sushi Shop

I have been working out of the Toronto Financial district for a couple of months now.  I'm quite isolated from any interesting lunch joints.  I'm surrounded by food courts, junk food chains and more Tim Horton's than you can shake a stick at, if shaking a stick is your thing.  After wandering out a couple of times at noon, I spent a week drinking Booster Juice for lunch.  Then one day, I decided to look up the calorie count, yeah, I stopped that.  I've walked into and walked out of the Sushi Shop near by three times.  I even grabbed a menu so I could study it.  Each time, I looked, rather forlornly at the anemic looking refridgerated rolls, sighed and left.  There some rolls that were both 'thin' on filling and barely covered in rice. Oh and to add insult to injury, it is VERY VERY expensive, well compared to the lunch places near my office in Vancouver.  Sigh.

After a couple weeks of brown bagging it with dinner leftovers, I caved in today after a lunchtime conference call with half an hour until the next meeting, and went to one of the three The Sushi Shops within 5 minute walk from me.  I didn't have time to pick a roll for order as I would have preferred. I prefer to avoid the mini-bullets that result from refridgerating rice.  My time was limited so I examined the prepackaged with trepidation.  For crying out loud! 15 bucks for a 12 piece combo of refridgerated sushi!? Well, I couldn't get another Booster Juice and I didn't want to stand in line for a sandwich so I grabbed a combo.

I grabbed a Brown Rice combo that staff had just placed out.  I thought it might have just been made.  In the end it wasn't.  I think that he must have just brought out from a larger refridgeration unit in the back.  There was NO way that was fresh rice.  It reminded me of long line ups in front of empty bars.  Is it meant to give the illusion of high demand?  I also asked for low sodium soy.  In Vancouver, I keep a big bottle of low sodium soy in my desk... seriously.  The dude told me that their 'soya' has less sodium than regular soy already.  It did.  It tasted more like a ponzu or tempura dipping sauce.  It was nice.

Overall the ingredients tasted fresh other than the rice.  The Rice and Nori (seaweed) made ahead and chilled is not a particularly nice textural experience, bullets wrapped in a rubberband.  As well, the fish was a bit sparse.  Yes, I realise I'm not on the Wet coast anymore but come on! Check on the tiny speck of Salmon in the roll on the left.  I am glad that I got the brown rice though.  At least it added some flavour to the rice, though minimal it was.   The rice was not dressed with any Sushi seasoning.  You really need that dipping sauce because the roll does not stand up on it's own like it should. 

I will likely go back in similarly desperate situations, short on time and ideas but not for a purely Sushi craving.

Ambiance: Take out
Cost: $$$$ (for take out sushi of middling to low quality)
Staff: friendly
the Sushi Shop
(416) 203-9388
25 York Street Lobby
Toronto, ON M5J 2V5
 Sushi Shop on Urbanspoon Sushi Shop on Urbanspoon