When taking an afternoon walk on the south side of Danforth Avenue, you might notice Mong-Kut Thai’s street-side menu board. It advertises their $6.95 lunch specials, available Monday to Sunday until 4 PM. Hungry patrons can choose from a list of fifteen Thai dishes, all of which come with rice or noodles, a spring roll, and one of four side options: tom yum, tom kha, and hot and sour soup, or a green salad.
Mong-Kut Thai certainly has a soothing and beautiful interior. Booths run down one wall, tables and chairs are aligned down the other. The colour scheme is simple – white and black inflect the different hues of brown – and is enhanced by the exposed brick on the bottom half of the walls. The blue tea lights hanging from the ceiling provide a harmonious touch of colour. Down the left wall hang large-format photographs of Thai landmarks.
On this visit, I took a friend with me. We sampled the pineapple fried rice and the steamed tofu with vegetables, and we both opted for the tom yum soup as a starter. Although these dishes are both vegetarian, there are plenty of meat combos to try, including the marinated grilled beef, golden chicken, and basil minced pork with egg.
The soups arrived first, steaming hot, in small white serving bowls. The red chili flakes were readily apparent, inundating the translucent broth with their spice. If you prefer dishes not quite so piquant, you may want to opt for the green salad to start – the chilies are a shock to the throat on first taste. However, the flavour was absolutely spectacular. Thai food is based on a balance of four elements: hot, sweet, salty, and sour. All of them were harmonized in the soup, accompanying the fresh flavours of the hearty, colourful vegetables.
The main dishes arrived soon afterwards, carried by a kind, courteous server. The pineapple fried rice was accompanied by a deep-fried spring roll with sweet and spicy dipping sauce, and a healthy serving of fresh veggies. All elements of the platter were piled onto one serving plate, leaving a bit to be desired in terms of presentation.
The second dish had nicer aesthetics. The steamed tofu and vegetables were served in a side bowl, while the white rice, a fried spring roll with dip, and a small portion of salad, were served on a separate plate.
The spring rolls were overdone, tasting dry and slightly burnt, but the dipping sauce was delicious – not too sweet or spicy, but a perfect balance of the two. The fried rice was permeated by the rich sweetness of the pineapple. There were also some tasty vegetables, such as bok choy, carrots, snow peas and broccoli. Unfortunately, the green peas and corn threw the dish off balance. These classic North American staples had no business in a Thai dish, and took away from its overall appeal. Luckily, they were absent from the steamed tofu dish.
The tofu and vegetables were adorned with a mild sauce, which enhanced the taste of the vegetables without dominating the whole dish. The dish tasted pleasantly fresh, but if you prefer more of a blast to your taste buds, you would be better off ordering a curry.
In all, the mediocre elements of the lunch specials were overshadowed by some truly standout flavours. The affordable price, the friendly service, and the wonderful ambiance make Mong-Kut Thai one of the Danforth’s front-running Thai restaurants.
Mong-Kut Thai is located at 471 Danforth Avenue
Closest intersection: Danforth & Logan