There are a lot of Thaï restaurants in the National Capital Region. A lot.
You can almost never go wrong, but it is quite hard to go all the way to the top. Green Papaya – a local favourite – has four locations, and its sister chain, Hot Peppers. Siam Bistro was a hit, before it burnt down. (They now have re-opened.) In the market, you make a pretty good choice if you end up at the Royal Thaï. Siam Kitchen and Som Tum are also pretty good, and they both offer nice combo plates. Considering its location way out in Ottawa South, Sweet Basil is good, but overpriced. On the Quebec side, Chez le Thaï is quite good, and they have a great backyard terrace in the summer. Le Lotus Royal Thaï on Montcalm is small, pricey, but excellent.
But without a doubt, in my opinion, the best Thaï restaurant in Ottawa is Coriander. Located on Kent at the corner of Cooper, Coriander is bigger then it looks from the outside, but most often the upstairs is closed – leaving patrons to squeeze into the smallish main dining room on the main level.
But we are not there for luxury comfort – we are there for the quality of the food, and five of us made the decision to enjoy it tonight, at Cameron’s request.
As a starter, the classic Thai Poa Pia Pak – two veggie-stuffed deep-fried spring rolls. They used to give four, but they cut that in half to match their other spring roll offering.
Warm and crisp, they are pretty good. They are served with a clear, spicy and sweet fish sauce and a side of fresh slices of tomatoes and cucumbers, fairly fresh, but a C for presentation. You shouldn’t judge the restaurant on the rolls, though.
As a main, I went with their Gaeng Keow Wan – a green curry dish with chicken and vegetables.
There is nothing like Thai Curries, and I especially like green curries, which are made with fresh chili. The chicken was quite tender and not overcooked, which is too often the case at Thai restaurants. There were plenty of bamboo shoots, but it was light on the vegetable front. The balance of the coconut flavor and the lemongrass, combined with a nice heat level, made this dish a pure delight, which I chased down with a couple of Thai beers.
Mel went for the Nuer Gra-pow, a beef sauteed with fresh chili and fresh basil. If you like basil, this is your dish.
The beef was tasty, there was a nice mix of onions, eggplants, peppers and chili, and the freshness of the basil makes this one a Coriander classic. You are never disappointed when you order this dish – even if like me, you believe that eggplants are disgusting.
We also ordered rice – sticky was asked by most, but they somehow ran out of it – which I thought was weird. Fine by me though, as I prefer steamed rice anyway.
We footed about 40$ on the food, and we left satisfied.