Hidden gem

Thida’s Thai’s exterior is bland, but its food is anything but

 Tucked under the Chateau 100 apartment building at 78 Donald Street, Thida’s Thai is one of those great little restaurants you’ve probably walked past 100 times without even realizing it was there.

My first impressions weren’t stellar, mainly because I went around 1:00 pm and what appeared to be a business lunchtime rush was lined up at the front to pay for their meals.

As a result, I got a little lost in the shuffle and wasn’t seated for a while. Plus, the entrance of the space is basically a bare hallway with a few booths that had reached a nearly tropical temperature. Because of the crowd and the fact that I’m 5’2”, I thought this was everything Thida’s had to offer.

However, after things calmed down a bit I was escorted by a friendly server to a much larger, much nicer and much cooler room.

The colour scheme was deep red with touches of gold and the artwork created ambience without being over the top or making it seem like a cheesy themed restaurant.

Thida’s is affordable with many options, making it a great hang-out for just about anybody. The dishes were all around the $10 mark, including a lunch special that came with two vegetarian spring rolls and peanut sauce. I settled on the “pad nut”, a dish with cashews and vegetables topped with a seafood melange that included prawns, calamari and mussels.

Most menu items (especially stir frys) offer a choice of seafood, beef, chicken or just veggies for our herbivore friends. My date ordered a dish with rice noodles and chicken.

The food arrived very quickly and the portions were large. This would be a fun place to go with a group and share a few dishes.

The vegetables were crisp, which lulled me into a false sense of security regarding how healthy my sauce-riddled dish with deepfried spring rolls was.

Thida’s has a spicy scale that goes from 1 to 10. I played it safe with a 3, but could have easily bumped it up to a 5 without bursting into flames. Also, the spices are more complex and less like the burning sensation that comes with an order of hot wings.

I’d have loved to try one of their yummy looking sweet rice desserts, but I got really excited and ate my entire meal, which left me feeling full for the rest of the day (file that under “Great money saving ideas that will make most nutritionists hate me”). Still, there are many sweet dishes available to cleanse your palate without breaking the bank.

I think Thida’s could benefit from a couple of portable debit machines to avoid the cluster of people at the front during peak hour, but really if my only complaint about an establishment is that it gets really busy, they must be doing something right.

Published in Volume 68, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 18, 2013)

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