Quest for Kway Teow Pad Thai Ontario Canada

November 12, 2011

in International

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Sombat the Thai Guy

#4-565 Woodlawn Road W.
Guelph, Ontario
519-766-1669
www.sombatthethaiguy.ca

Reviewed & Photographed by: Andrew Coppolino

Food & Service: I have of late been on a quest of sorts for the best Pad Thai I can find in these parts (Ontario) of Cold Country, short of traveling to Bangkok or Lampang.

When done right, the noodle dish (Kway Teow Pad Thai) can shine brilliance! The perfect scattering of veggies, some crisp tofu, bean sprouts, coriander, lime, a protein, the heat of chile peppers, green onions, peanuts and tamarind. Tamarind is the sweet-sour pulp of an Asian fruit tree pod that is the main ingredient in Worestershire sauce (who knew?).  It’s likely that Pad Thai came to Thailand via Chinese cookery.

Appetizer Platter Could Feed Three...Some Items Good Some Mediocre

Just because it is not a composed dish, but one of a more casual plating style, there’s still no excuse for simply dumping the many ingredients hodge-podge on a platter. This reveals a flaccid attitude towards presentation and a general lack of interest, if not talent, in the cooking process…where’s the love? With the benefit of lots of fresh, colorful ingredients at hand, there are many ways to make a pile of noodles attractive, tempting and of course delicious!

I believe Sombat the Thai Guy has the energy and interest in presenting the best Pad Thai that he can, even though the restaurant is situated sadly in a virtually deserted  retail plaza in the north part of  Guelph. Inside, the decor is similarly sad as well, or “classic retail-mall restaurant minimalist” at best. The service here can be a bit too low-key as well, but generally is prompt and friendly. My advice to the owners would be that service could be a  bit more engaging and delivered with more energy. This would certainly enhance the overall dining experience for sure.

Good Flavors of Red Curry Paste in this Beef Dish, but Slightly Overcooked.

The large menu hits the key notes for what is expected of a North American Thai restaurant, however a couple of those notes were a bit flat on this visit. A large appetizer sampler plate could easily satisfy three people ($12.95) —but only if the kitchen hits the mark on the half-dozen or so items on the mini-smorgasbord.

Fresh rolls with shrimp, vermicelli and mint are decent enough in flavor and texture, though a couple of the coconut and curry marinated beef satays had spent a little too much time on the grill and had gotten rather dry. Crispy spring rolls are filled with chicken, glass noodles, carrot and mushrooms and are good in that they are not greasy; not so good in that in a few spots they were slightly burned (is a microwave oven the culprit?).

Kway teow pad Thai Features Well Balanced of flavors, with the Nod Going to the Tamarind paste.

I’ve had Sombat’s shrimp rolls on a few occasions, and while the shrimp is tender and sweet it always disappoints in that the morsels within are overwhelmed by the dough wrapper. I’m really not too sure what is happening with an oddly gelatinous peanut sauce whose texture was unique to say the least. A spicy beef stir fry ($9.95) has a pleasant red curry paste, some bamboo shoots, runner beans, sweet peppers, basil, onion and luscious coconut cream (that in fact makes up nicely for some slightly dry beef). As a whole the dish is quite good and provides a considerable chilli wallop to boot.

Therein is the spicy rub. Ask for medium heat at Sombat, but be aware that it can still be quite hot indeed. I’m not saying bad hot, but hot enough to cause a good tingle and lingering molecule-bouncing in the mouth. It gives the dishes some zip, no doubt! Sombat the Thai Guy’s pad Thai has a healthy dosing of energy from which the plaza outside could certainly benefit.

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We are proud to feature the writing of Andrew Coppolino. This Canadian restaurant reviewer has written for Echo Weekly and is a former restaurant critic of The Waterloo Region Record. He is a full time freelance writer, broadcaster, and food commentator, and host of both the radio program “The Food Show” on 570 News and the cooking and food segment on Rogers TV “Grand River Living.” Andrew’s done cooking apprenticeships at Kitchener fine dining restaurants, and does occasional kitchen stages when he isn’t writing for various publications, developing content for his website Waterloo Region Eats, or in a restaurant somewhere eating yet more food.

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