I’ve been going to Salad King Thai restaurant, in downtown Toronto, since 1993, when it was on Gould Street, across from Sam the Record Man (now closed).
This year, Salad King celebrates 25 years in business, and my, how the restaurant has grown. When Ernest and Linda Liu first bought the eatery in 1991, it had 60 seats, five employees and served about 70 customers per day. A quarter century on, Salad King, now located in a bustling second-floor space on Yonge Street, just north of Gould, features 175 seats and 65 employees and serves 1,200 people per day.
In 2012, the Thai government recognized Salad King with its Thai Select award honouring the kitchen’s authentic Thai cuisine (in September, the restaurant is scheduled to receive the award again). This is a testament to the leadership of Salad King’s managing director Alan Liu, Ernest and Linda’s son. Better still, the restaurant’s price point offers terrific value.
Soups excel. Tom yum features chicken and shrimp in spicy broth; coconut milk and lime juice anchor supremely flavourful tom hai gai, while lemongrass perfumes spicy tom yum gai. Peanut dipping sauce jazzes smoky and tender chicken and beef satay.
The kitchen is also strong on curries, which are rich and deeply flavoured. Emerald curry is fragrant with coconut milk and loaded with veggies; lemongrass and chili sauce animate Evil Jungle Prince filled with eggplant, baby corn, mushrooms and carrots.
Panang curry, packed with chicken and speckled with peanuts, is perfumed with sweet Asian basil, lime leaf and coconut milk, while golden curry features fork-tender beef, a good hit of Thai herbs, coconut milk and tamarind.
Salad King’s pad Thai is one of the better versions around town, properly earthy from fish sauce and tamarind.
Finish with the classic Thai dessert: a mound of warm sticky rice drizzled in a sauce rich with coconut milk and garnished with slices of sweet mango.
Buyouts will be considered for the restaurant, which seats 175. Restaurant can also accommodate large parties, with seating arranged in groups.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,200 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.