Khao San Road and 86’d Mondays Bread and Butter Battle

Posted on March 20, 2012


Khao San Road piqued my interest for a while now.  For a several weeks now, it has been consistently been on Urbanspoon’s Talk of the Town Top 10.  This week I finally made it to this very popular Thai restaurant with my friend and food stylist, Abe Wornovitzky. He once told me about this place himself.  Once you get him started about his most favorite dish in Toronto, Khao San Road’s Pad Gra Prao, ground beef spiced up with holy basil and lime leaves topped with a runny fried egg, would top his list.  Imagine me suggesting it to him for dinner yesterday.  What I got was an enthusiastic agreement with my restaurant of choice and Abe raving on and on about the Pad Gra Prao.

We get to Khao San Road at about 7pm and a long queue greeted us by the door.  The restaurant’s seating was maximized up to the hilt.  Abe told me that the fastest way to get seated is not to be too choosy about seating arrangements.  I approached the staff by the door and told him that my party of two was not opposed to sitting by the bar or in one the two big communal tables by the entrance of the restaurant.  As I was whiling my time waiting to be seated, I was already perusing the menu.  I ended up choosing to share Gra Bong or squash fritters to start and Abe’s favorite, Pad Gra Prao, for my main.  Twenty minutes passed and we scored seats at the communal table.  Considering how long the line was when we arrived, waiting 20 minutes was actually shorter than what I anticipated.

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As we waited for our food, I finally took note of the interiors of the restaurant.  The simplicity of its black painted walls and carefully hand-picked framed pieces appealed to me.  I always have been a believer that less is more.  The dark walls complimented with warmly stained wooden tables made the interiors cozy and comfortable.  Black pendant lights were strategically placed over some of the tables reinforced with a series of pot lights gave the space a relaxed ambience.

The squash fritter appetizer arrived and the tall pile was overwhelming to see.  I believe this was biggest appetizer serving I had for the price I was paying.  It was enough for a meal!  Dipping a portion of my squash fritter on sweet tamarind sauce,  I was thinking about the food event Abe and I was going to after dinner.  86’d Mondays at the Drake Hotel was featuring a Bread and Butter Battle for the night.  I was a bit worried that I might be too full for the event.  I was getting stuffed and I still have yet to taste my Pad Gra Pao.  However, the squash fritters were just too good to leave a morsel behind.  The best part of it was the dish’s after-taste.  The dipping sauce leaves a pleasant fresh taste on the palette, making you to involuntarily lick your lips and want more of the dish.

Pad Gra Pao later arrived and after a few attempts of food styling it for my photos, I sliced the fried egg over the mound of ground beef to take a perfect bite.  On my spoon I piled a bit of jasmine rice, ground beef and a sliver of fried egg.  What I tasted were the rich deep flavours of Southeast Asia, mentally bringing me back home.  Thai and Filipino cuisine has the same sensibilities in taste. Save for the degree of spiciness, I would say I could have been in Manila after eating Pad Gra Pao.  This dish gave me a comfort and satisfaction.  Still thinking about the food event we were going to after eating, I ditched about half of my jasmine rice serving.  Me being me, this part of the dish I was never of short.  I don’t think there was ever a Filipino household with a shortage of rice. ;)

Abe and I was a good hour late for 86’d Monday Bread and Butter Battle but fortunately, there was enough bread and butter to last the crowd when we arrived.  I was conservative in my tastings as I know I was pushing it for the night after the meal at Khao San Road.  First bread I sampled turned out to be my favorite for the night, Earth to Table Bread Bar‘s Maple Pecan Bread paired with Rhubarb butter.  Aptly crunchy on the side and soft on the inside, the maple flavor of the bread just begged me to get another piece of the bread.  And of course, I gave in.  For the butter, The Gabardine‘s Brown Butter Butter was my personal choice.  I was standing behind another foodie when I heard Chef Graham Pratt suggesting that to get the best taste The Gabardine’s offering, one was to take one whole pat of butter and sandwich it between two slices of bread.  My solution to cutting my tasting to a smaller size was folding The Gabardine’s red fife bread into two and putting a pat of butter in between.  Ah the satisfaction of biting into cold and light butter pat on good bread, just too hard to put into words.  I moved on to Trevor Kitchen‘s Potato Foccaccia and Bacon butter and I must say I found it too sinful to combine bacon and butter together.  I know I must do penance after this night of indulgence.  Last participant of the night was Brockton General’s Corn Bread and Smoked Peach Butter.  I only sampled the corn bread as I have an allergy reaction with peaches.  I later found out from fellow foodie Andrew Hunter that the balance of smokiness and sweetness of the butter with the moist corn bread was the most amazing of the night.  The crowd obviously agreed with him as 86’d Monday host Ivy Knight announced Brockton General victorious for the night.  I was a bit miffed about missing out on Brockton General’s Smoked Peach Butter. Although after all the eating I have done for the night, I remembered I was supposed to do penance.  I think that thought retracted an impending tantrum and gave me peace ;)

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