Country 022 – Thailand (Sukhothai)

sukho
Location
: 1442 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.sukhothaifood.ca/

Pad Thai isn’t typically my go-to order at a Thai joint, but after reading this article about its intriguingly bizarre history (which involves a military coup and a governmental decree that everyone wear hats), I felt oddly compelled to order it.

Sukhothai’s version comes with your choice of chicken, beef, or tofu.  I went with chicken, which turned out to be a bad choice — the pieces were dry, tough, and thoroughly leftovery.

It was otherwise fine, I guess.  It had a slightly more complex flavour than average and wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as some versions of this dish tend to be, but Pad Thai is never going to be my favourite.  I think the story behind it is probably more interesting than the dish itself.

I had the cassava cake for dessert, which was the highlight.  Though the slightly gummy texture was a bit off-putting at first, its sweet, coconut-infused flavour and rich dulce-de-leche-esque topping thoroughly won me over.

Sukhothai - the restaurant Sukhothai - the Pad Thai Sukhothai - the Cassava Cake

Advertisements

Country 017 – Philippines (Lamesa Filipino Kitchen)

lamesa1
Location
: 669 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.lamesafilipinokitchen.com/

I was really looking forward to trying Lamesa — specifically, I was looking forward to trying their take on sisig, a dish that looked especially compelling on the Philippines episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show.

I came at brunch, and sadly, despite its presence on their website’s menu, the sisig was M.I.A. — apparently there’s a new chef in the kitchen, so I’m guessing what’s on their website and what’s in the restaurant might not match up for the next little while.

I ordered the Silog breakfast instead, which comes with your choice of boneless bangus (also known as milkfish), pork belly tocino (which the waiter described as their take on back bacon), or pork longanisa (a sausage), along with cassava hash, fried eggs, garlic rice, and salad.

I went with the fish, which had been fried, giving it a nice crispy exterior — but either this type of fish just naturally lacks any type of moisture, or it was way overcooked.  I’m going to guess the latter.

It had an overt (though not at all unpleasant) fishy flavour, but was puckeringly salty and unpleasantly dry.  Without the runny yolk to lubricate things it would have been nigh-inedible, but combined with the perfectly-cooked eggs, it wasn’t bad.

The cassava hash (which was also fried, and which lacked anything even remotely resembling any hash-like properties) was fine — nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside — but I wish they had taken some of the salt out of the fish and put it here instead.  If it had been seasoned at all, you couldn’t taste it.  It was exceptionally bland, though the tangy house-made ketchup certainly helped.

The salad was the standard boxed mixed greens with a basic vinaigrette that you can find at so many restaurants; fine, but nothing to see here.  Move along.

I feel like I’m being overly negative; nothing here was particularly great, but nothing was outright bad, either.  Certainly, I had no problem cleaning my plate.  So I’ll end on a high note.  The garlic rice — fragrant with garlic that’s right on the verge of being burnt — was an intense flavour-bomb, and easily the highlight of the meal.  The garlicky taste from that rice lingered on my palate for the rest of the day, but it was totally worth it.  I’d be tempted to come back just for that.

Lamesa - the outside Lamesa - the restaurant Lamesa - the Silog breakfast

Country 005 – Dominican Republic (Mi Tierra)

tierra
Location
: 828 Saint Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Website: None

I was watching the Dominican Republic-centric episode of No Reservations, and a hearty soup called sancocho was highlighted as that country’s quintessential dish.  After a quick consultation with my good friend Google,  I found myself at Mi Tierra — though it’s technically a Colombian restaurant, they’ve got the ‘cocho on the menu (what’s that?  No one calls it ‘cocho?  Okay fine.  Your loss).

It’s alright, I guess.  It’s perfectly tasty, but I have a hard time imagining anyone getting too hot and bothered over it (but again, like with my recent experience with doubles, it’s possible that I got a mediocre version of an otherwise great dish).

The base is a pretty basic chicken stock; it’s a nice clean broth, but there isn’t a whole lot of flavour there.  It’s filled with some fairly sizable chunks of potato, plantain, cassava (which is like a starchier potato), oxtail, and roast-beef-esque chunks of meat.

It’ll certainly fill you up, though I wish there was a little bit more meat in there; there was only one piece of oxtail, which was really tender and probably the best thing in the bowl.  There were maybe three or four chunks of beef, which were a bit dryer than I’d like, but otherwise pretty good.  The rest was all potato and cassava and plantain.  It was hearty and very filling, no doubt about it, but a little bit ho-hum.  The dish primarily consists of starchy vegetables that all taste like starchy vegetables; there’s not much here that elevates them.

It came with a coleslaw-esque salad on the side, which had a bright, citrusy flavour, but which was a little bit too strong on the onion for my tastes (but I’m admittedly not a huge fan of raw onion).

Mi Tierra - the restaurant Mi Tierra - the empanadas Mi Tierra - the sancocho