When my wife and I moved to St. Clair West, a colleague of mine told us we had to try Khmer Thai. Our interest was piqued by the billing of the best (and possibly only) Cambodian food in the city. Located 2 blocks west of Oakwood, inside the confines of a former Coffee Time, this Mom & Pop is often packed and always steamy.
Serving Dinner everyday from 5pm to 9pm & Lunch (Tues-Friday) from 12pm to 3pm, Khmer Thai offers a number of different starters to warm up those who are comin’ in from the cold. The Spring Rolls (4 for $4.99), are deep fried with Chicken and Veggies and served with Sweet Chili Sauce. This is open for debate, and perhaps a poll is needed, but we have yet to find a better spring roll in the city. The Cambodiana Soup ($9.99) is a meal in itself. A house specialty, it is an extra-hot puree of Chicken, Green Curry, Eggplant, Mushroom, Coconut Milk and Basil. Served with rice, it’s a great starter for the table… or more than enough for dinner if you’re looking for soup-for-one.
As far as the mains, they serve-up plenty of chicken dishes. We like to try it 3 different ways, to share. The Phanaeng Kai ($8.99) sees huge strips of Curry Chicken Breast, served on rice and covered with Basil, Peanuts and Coconut Milk. It’s a great pick if you’re looking for something on the mild side, or really aren’t that into heat. The Western Style ($8.99) has pieces of Chicken rubbed in Dry Pepper and then served with Whole Stewed Tomatoes, Magrood, Lemongrass, Shallots and rice. This dish is on the hot side, and can be made-to-order if you’re looking for something extra-hot. The Kako Khmer ($8.99), as seen below, is a spicy-sweet melange of Chicken, Green Papaya, Green Jack Fruit, Green Chili, Eggplant, Coconut Milk and Long Beans, served over jasmine rice.
If you are more in the mood for some surf and turf, Khmer Thai offers-up a foolproof combination of two of their house specialties. The Golden Beef ($8.99) is their best-selling dish. Grilled Beef, Peanuts, Lemongrass, Coconut Milk, Green Beans, Chili and Onions are fried up in a huge wok and served over sticky rice. This spicy beef dish is a nice compliment to the milder Stir Fried Seafood with Noodles ($10.50). Here, mixed Veggies are fried-up with Shrimp and Squid, tossed in a homemade oyster-like sauce, and served over Chow Mein or Rice Noodles.
Khmer Thai also boasts an extensive vegetarian menu (starters through to dessert), the best-bet being the Curry Tofu ($7.99). Here we have Red Curry, Coconut Milk, Peanuts and Basil Leaves generously ladled atop soft slabs of Tofu, served over perfectly-steamed jasmine rice.
If you still have room for dessert, try the Fried Banana with Ice Cream ($2.50) It’s both vegetarian, and the only dessert option on the menu.
In closing, it is interesting to note that perhaps the least popular dish on the menu is the Pad Thai. Now, I am not sure if it’s because this family-run restaurant specializes in Cambodian food (possible), or if they just don’t know how to make a great Pad Thai (improbable). Perhaps, because there are so many Thai restaurants in the city, it’s easy to find great Pad Thai and hard to find great/any Cambodian. In any case, there are 48 other well-priced options on Khmer Thai’s menu that should serve diners well… be they in a group or flying solo. One thing for certain is that we’re very pleased this hidden gem is within walking distance to our place. It’s become a twice-a-month habit for us (minimum). Perhaps we’ll see you there.