Is Salad King Overrated?
I've always been a fan of Salad King. I've lost count how many friends rate it as their favourite Thai restaurant in Toronto; and it's always packed every time I eat there. But on a recent visit I was less than overwhelmed with the food, and chatting amicably with the diners beside me at our long, steel communal table, I discovered they didn't feel their meal was anything to rave about either.
The dinner started out ok. We each ordered the Ton Yum soup ($2.95 - photo above) which I suppose is their version of the more traditional Tom Yum. This soup is hard to mess up and their's tasted fine. Not the best I've had - by far - but certainly passable. It's hard to mess up a soup with such simple ingredients although I'd personally prefer if they swapped the button mushrooms for enoki.
Next, the mango salad ($4.75 - photo above). We should have ordered this for dessert. Instead of what we were expecting - sliced green mangoes, tomato, lettuce, cucumber with fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, peanut dressing (this is what it reads on the menu) - we were served sweet sliced, ripe yellow mango. Normally tasty on its own or in a fruit salad, ripe yellow mango just doesn't go as well with fish sauce. Very disappointing.
For our main, we decided to share something called the Evil Jungle Prince ($6.25 - photo above). Now, I know what you're thinking. We deserve what we get when we order something with a name like Evil Jungle Prince. But I'm a big fan of stir-fried eggplant and the menu's description of eggplant, baby corn, peas, carrots, onions, chilli sauce, lemon grass, bamboo shoots and steamed rice seemed promising enough.
Unfortunately, as soon as the order arrived we knew we probably chose the wrong dish. As pictured above, the Evil Jungle Prince was swimming in a pool of liquid, and the veggies had shrunk so much that the dish looked simply sad and puny. Even the eggplant couldn't save it. Only a few scant pieces. The flavour, texture, substance - it was all MIA.
With the soup, yellow mango, Evil Jungle Prince and a bowl of white rice behind us we still weren't quite full, so we ordered a couple of shrimp skewers off the menu of the day. Now perhaps at this point I was just looking for something to complain about - and, granted, each skewer was only a few bucks - but still, in the annals of shrimp skewers these wouldn 't get any marks for size or flavour. Definitely give them a miss.
And with that, we decided our meal was over. But as I mentioned before, we did have a nice conversation with the couple beside us. They thought their meal was a bit hit and miss, but we both agreed (and based on my satisfying meals at Salad King before) that the best strategy is to avoid the rice dishes and go for the noodle ones. If I ever go back that's what I'll be sure to do.