By A. Paul Mitchell, London Dining Review, August 8, 2012
While many people dream of owning a restaurant, few actually embark on the risk-laden journey. Thai Taste proves that focusing on authentic, great-tasting food is worth struggling through long hours, exhausting work and a shoestring budget.
This restaurant is best enjoyed via delivery. From the outside, the narrow eatery in a rough part of town is intimidating from the first sight of its blocked windows of hand-made signs. Impressions do not change upon entering. The stark interior lacks any semblance of décor or style.
Although there is clean, fast-food-styled seating for dining in, I decide to order take-out at a small back counter next to a miniscule and frugally-outfitted kitchen. Surrounded by crowded home furnishings and clutter, the owner-operator politely guides me through broken English toward Poh Pia (Thai spring rolls, $3.50 for two), and familiar Pad Thai ($9.50) and green curry ($8.95). Names on the inexpensive menu are difficult to pronounce but expect rice and noodle dishes consisting mostly of pork or chicken. I wait half-an-hour to get my take-out order since the cook makes everything – including the steamed rice – from scratch.
Delightful aromas reveal themselves as soon as I open the bag to grab the spring rolls. A thick, crispy pastry surrounds a tasty filling of noodles and vegetables. They are nice and homemade but obviously have been frozen before hitting the fryer. The enticing smells emanate from an overflowing carton of spectacular glistening noodles topped with crushed peanuts and a side of beansprouts and lime. The complex, creamy peanut sauce is rich and succulent, enhanced by egg. Chicken is well cooked and abundant but shrimp is lacking.
I am even more impressed with my beef curry dish. More brown than green in colour, it is brilliant with multiple layers of basil, chili, mint and a few other exotic unrecognizable spices that I immediately relish. With delicate pieces of meat, peppers, onion and bamboo shoots bathed in coconut milk sauce, it is the most intricate curry I have had in London.
An awkward atmosphere defies how good the food actually is at Thai Taste. For those willing to brave through and set first-impressions aside, palates will be rewarded with deeply satisfying, accurate flavours of Thailand.
Thai Taste Restaurant
671 Dundas Street (between Adelaide and Lyle)
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am – 9:30 pm; Sunday, 11:30 am – 9:30 pm
Rating: *** (3) [Rating would have been **** but score hurt by location and decor marks]