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Queen Mother Cafe: Ping Gai Heaven

Posted by Debbie Ohi / Reviewed on September 28, 2007 / review policy

My friend and I have been having lunch at Queen Mother Cafe for years now. The ritual remains the same each time, as does our order: Ping Gai. The interior is fairly dark so we usually opt for a table near the window. Not surprisingly, there are lots of Queen Mum pics around, including the ladies' restroom (can't speak for the men's since I've never been, sorry).

But back to the Ping Gai. For $11.95, you get a tender boneless chicken marinated with garlic, coriander and black peppercorns, grilled crispy and served with a spicy lime and coriander dipping sauce, salad and steamed rice.

From time to time I'll be adventurous and try one of the daily specials. One of my favourites, when it's available: the Seafood Hot Pot ($11.95) -- scallops, shrimp and calamari simmered in a spicy green curry and coconut sauce with cauliflower, green beans, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and basil, served with steamed jasmine rice.

All the soups I've had at the Queen Mother Cafe have also been excellent, and I'm often tempted by the Sticky Rice steamed in a straw basket with a peanut sauce dip ($5.25). The menu has plenty of interesting options for vegetarians, like their Khao Soy Gai, a traditional northern Laotian dish of chicken simmered in a spicy broth of ginger, fresh Thai herbs, turmeric, curry and coconut milk, served on a bed of soft thin egg noodles, fresh bean sprouts, watercress, garnished with mint, shallots, marinated bok choy and fresh coriander (10.95). Just reading those ingredients makes my mouth water. Especially turmeric. There's something about the word turmeric...

Another popular vegetarian dish: The Queen Mother Cosmic Burger (high protein vegetarian patty), which has been on the menu for over 25 years (!). I've never had it, but how can anything with that kind of name NOT be good?

I sometimes go through the pretense of looking through the menu but inevitably am drawn back to the Ping Gai. Try it before you mock me. If you feel compelled to check out the menu in advance, you can find their lunch menu and dinner menu online. The dinner menu is more expensive; the ping gai costs $16.50 instead of $11.95, for instance. There's also a brunch menu available.

Patio seating available. Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am, Sun 12:00pm-12:00am.



Gloria / September 28, 2007 at 05:54 pm
I've always wondered about the Queen Mother Cafe. Being the simpleton I am, I always assumed it was a kind of tea and sandwiches place, heh. Now I know better.
Debbie / September 28, 2007 at 06:46 pm
You're not a simpleton at all, Gloria...the word "cafe" does evoke a tea and sandwiches atmosphere, doesn't it? And in fact, Queen Mother Cafe does have tea and it does have sandwiches, and the sandwiches are very good. But it has a lot of other good stuff as well. :-)
Becka Sovereign / January 27, 2009 at 04:53 pm
There are many selections for vegetarians (canneloni, 2 sandwiches, 2 kinds of spring rolls, roti, 3-4 salads, and there's always a veggie special), but the "khao soy gai" is definitely not one of them--it even says in the article that it's a chicken dish, so how can they say it's vegetarian? In addition to the chunks of chicken, the curry sauce is made with a chicken broth and oyster sauce, so really it can't even be modified to be veggie. The other two noodle dishes, however, are made to order and can be made veggie, you just have to ask.
Nina / March 19, 2010 at 02:07 pm
I have to agree with the reviewer -- whenever I'm in Toronto I make time to have lunch at the Queen Mother and I always order the Ping Gai, too. It's one of the most delicious dishes I've ever tasted!
Jing / December 15, 2010 at 12:03 am
Cute restaurant. Been there once with my mother. We got confused by the entrance since there are two doors, one of which leads to the apartment upstairs. I am sure the people living there are bothered all day long by confused hungry people.
We were lucky to sit by the window and had a great afternoon.
Will definitely try Ping Gai next time.
Andrew / April 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm
Ping Gai Chicken - one of the BEST dishes in Toronto!
William / April 26, 2012 at 06:02 pm
I have been frequenting the Queen Mum for probably 25 years and have been having the Ping for te last 10-15 years and it really is as good as reviewed.

The other dishes are excellent also but I only get there every few months and by then I have the Ping Gai it is again!

Great clientele and great owners!

A / October 2, 2013 at 08:04 pm
Ping Gai is now about 13$ during lunch, dinner its 17$...the menu was updated may 2013, Ouch! but ill try it anyway! thanks guys!

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