Unique Desserts at Patchmon’s Thai Desserts

Patchmon's Thai DessertsLocation: 2463 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.thaidesserts.ca/

I mentioned recently that Asian desserts have a tendency to be an acquired taste.  That is absolutely, positively the case with Patchmon’s Thai Desserts.

But that’s part of the appeal — how often do you get a chance to try something that’s entirely unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before?  There’s something thrilling about that, especially when the thing you’re eating is also delicious.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

I tried three desserts, and the biggest “whoa, that’s new” was easily the Thai taro custard.  For the most part, it’s not all that unusual — it kind of tastes like a much denser, richer version of creme caramel, with an almost cakey consistency.

It’s also topped with caramelized shallots.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

It’s weird.  The shallots aren’t just a topping — the whole thing is perfumed with their flavour.  It sounds like it should be off-putting, but oddly enough, it works.

There’s no doubt that it’s unusual, though.  It’s one of those things I ate with a perpetually furrowed brow.  I’ll also admit that I didn’t finish it.  It sat in my fridge for about a week until I finally threw it out.  As much as I liked it, I never particularly felt like reliving that odd sensation of eating dessert that’s also a little bit oniony.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

The next thing I tried was the Thai coconut layer cake.  Despite the name, it’s actually more of a jelly, which the woman behind the counter explained is made with tapioca rather than gelatin, and which is flavoured with pandan leaves.

This was my favourite of the three.  The texture was denser and creamier than your typical gelatin (it was somewhere between mochi and Jell-o), and the flavour was great, if a bit hard to describe.  It’s vaguely nutty and almost malty.  It’s quite good.

Patchmon's Thai Desserts

The third item was the ta-goe (sweet tapioca with coconut cream).  I didn’t particularly enjoy this one.  The texture — featuring a creamy top layer and a tapioca-infused bottom layer — was quite nice.  But it had a sharply salty, almost sour flavour that I found to be a bit overwhelming.  I have no doubt that it’s an authentic version of that particular dessert, but I think it’s an acquired taste that I haven’t yet acquired.

Tasty Peanut Sauce at Nimman Thai

Nimman ThaiLocation: 1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
Websitehttps://nimman.ca/

I think a really good peanut sauce is one of those things that can make pretty much anything taste delicious.  It really doesn’t matter what it is; slather enough peanut sauce on it, and hey, what do you know, it’s delicious now.  How about that.

Nimman Thai

Case in point: the Nimman long song at Nimman Thai, which features some kind of saucy chicken on top of rice, with a side of Chinese broccoli and, of course, the aforementioned delicious peanut sauce.

The chicken was tough and its sauce was pretty bland, but once you dip it into the intensely flavourful peanut sauce, you’re off to the races.  That peanut sauce!  I would have dipped anything into that.

Nimman Thai

I got the dish as part of their lunch special, which is actually a really great deal — for twelve bucks, you also get a bowl of soup, a salad, and a spring roll.  The soup was pleasantly zingy, and the salad had a really interesting dressing that tasted strongly of fish sauce.

Nimman Thai

The spring roll, on the other hand, had a funky flavour and an overly thick wrapper.  It wasn’t great, and since the peanut sauce wasn’t on the table yet, I couldn’t even dip it into that to save it.

Decent Thai Food at Pai

PaiLocation: 18 Duncan Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.paitoronto.com/

After recently having a mind-blowing meal at Khao San Road (which is just around the corner), I decided to Thai it up again, this time at Pai.  Alas, the meal was quite tasty, but it wasn’t even close to being on the same level as KSR.

I ordered the Pad Gra Prow — “holy basil stir fried with your choice of ground pork, chicken, beef or tofu, steamed jasmine rice, thai style fried egg, nam prik nam pla sauce.”

Pai

I went with pork, and elected to go Thai spicy, which is the highest spice level.

And indeed, they were absolutely, positively not kidding around with the spice.  I enjoyed the level of heat, but then I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment in that regard (see also: my undying love for the “hot AF” chicken at Chica’s Chicken).

Pai

Sadly, aside from the impressive level of fiery heat, nothing about this dish particularly stands out.  It’s perfectly tasty, but none of the flavours pop, even when you add the fish sauce that comes on the side.  It’s a serviceable dish, but it’s boring.

Contrast that with the life-changing bowl of Khao Soi that I had at Khao San Road, and there’s no contest.

Of course, it’s not a fair comparison since the two dishes are so radically different.  But my dining companion had the pad thai at both restaurants and was able to make a 1:1 comparison.  He had the same reaction — Pai is fine, but KSR is magical.

Amazing Khao Soi at Khao San Road

Khao San RoadLocation: 11 Charlotte Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.khaosanroad.ca/

The Khao Soi at Khao San Road is improbably good.  It’s the type of dish where you have your first mouthful and think “wait… is this as delicious as I think it is?”  Then you take another mouthful, and yeah: it really is that good.

Khao soi is a Thai noodle soup that features a super rich curry broth topped with crispy fried noodles for texture.

Khao San Road

The version at Khao San Road is outstanding.  That restaurant is one of those places with a perpetual line out the door; once you try the food, it’s easy enough to see why.

The curry-infused soup — made indulgently rich thanks to creamy coconut milk — is so damn satisfying.

There’s nothing subtle about it; it’s an absolute flavour bomb, but with a complexity that ensures it never feels one-note or overwhelming, despite how assertive the flavours are.

Khao San Road

I had it with chicken, which complimented it quite well; you can also get tofu, beef, or shrimp.

The combination of the crispy noodles on top, the chewy noodles in the bowl, and the ultra-creamy soup is seriously addictive.  It’s ridiculously good.

Overpriced Thai Food at Kiin

KiinLocation: 326 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.kiintoronto.com/

Kiin is the latest Thai restaurant in the burgeoning restaurant empire of Jeff and Nuit Regular (they also own Sukhothai, Pai, and Sabai Sabai).  It’s one of those places where you order a few things and share, which is nice because you get to try more stuff (though you inevitably end up spending more, which is a bigger issue than usual at Kiin).

Kiin

The first thing we tried was the pandan chicken, which features tender pieces of chicken that have been wrapped in a pandan leaf (you can eat those leaves, though they recommend that you remove them).  It comes with a bowl of sweet chili sauce for dipping.  It’s a tasty dish, but definitely not a home run — the chicken, though nice and tender, was quite plain, and the chili sauce was standard-issue and nothing to write home about.

Kiin

Next up was the pork jowl, which was a definite upgrade over the chicken.  It’s crammed with classic Southeast Asian flavours: it’s a little fishy and a little sweet, with a nice punch of sourness to round it out.  But it’s too assertive, and the balance of flavours is off.  It’s tasty, but the slices of pork (which are slightly tougher than they should be) are completely wiped out.

Kiin

The final dish was kua hang gai, which was a braised chicken stir fry.  No complaints here — the chicken was super tender, and the flavours were well-rounded and satisfying.  We got this with one order of jasmine rice and another of roti.  The deep-fried roti was crispy and tasty, but it was closer to fry bread than standard roti.  I liked it, but a more traditional preparation would have been preferable.

I mentioned that price was an issue.  The pandan chicken was $15, the jowl was $17, the stir fry was $26, the rice was $5, and roti was $6.  With tax and tip, it was approaching a hundred bucks, which is just way too much money for the calibre of food that we were served.  Not that any of the dishes were bad, but those are fine-dining prices, and the food wasn’t at that level.