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Restaurants

Sukhothai

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on April 8, 2009 / review policy

Sukhothai Restaurant

Sukhothai just might be the best Thai restaurant in Toronto. The chef's a perfectionist. Please be reasonable when deciding to order something from here. You don't understand how bad I need my guaytiaw fix on a given weekend so we'll have to work out some kind of joint custody. I'll post my dinner-time on twitter a day in advance of my visit or delivery (yeah they do deliver) if you promise not to place an order in that one hour window. Cool?

Sadly for me, everyone is welcome as proprietors Jeff and Nuit Regular run their tiny, low-key takeaway (named after a Northern Thai city not far from where Nuit grew up) with warmly generous hospitality as if anyone who walks in the door is welcome guest dining at their family table.

The intrepid thirty-somethings met while Jeff was travelling through Northern Thailand and followed a seemingly fairytale plotline (for a restaurateur anyway) as they fell in love, married and proceeded to run a successful restaurant with some of Nuit's family in the sleepy town of Pai where she grew up. Upon returning to Canada the last thing they wanted to do was immediately start another restaurant. Thankfully, fate had other plans in store.

Sukhothai Restaurant Thai

Nuit, a trained nurse in Thailand, is still really busy updating her nursing qualifications for Toronto (hence the reason they're only currently open on Friday and Saturday) until she can find someone skilled enough to help execute her excellent card of Northern Thai fare. When she's not studying hard, she spends a lot of time sourcing ingredients and painstakingly makes every dish to rigorous standards.  Nuit focuses on accurately recreating the smells and tastes of home and while it may take a little longer than your average Thai take-out,  believe me this is far from average Thai take-out.  Like the best passages from Greene or Kipling, this food has the power to transport.

Sukhothai Restaurant Toronto

Start with crispy, greaseless shrimp chips ($1.99) with a fantastic homemade sweet and hot dipping sauce bursting with a heady mixture of chili, sugar, tamarind and fish sauce that takes this standard starter way beyond the pale.

Sukhothai

Easily feeding two, a huge bowl of sweet, gloriously creamy Tom Kha Gai soup ($8.35 with rice) is wildly fragrant with lemongrass and smooth coconut infused chicken broth, dialed up to a sublime frequency by the addition of thin, crunchy slices of fresh galangal that offer a tangy, mildly gingery flavour exploding in your mouth, creating a bright accent to this simple soup. Flavours appear and disappear across your tongue like the vision of that pretty girl you fancy in a crowded bar-- it elusive, seductive and definitely leaves you aching for more.

Sure they have Pad Thai ($8.49), you can even have it for free if you bring in a picture of yourself frolicking during your last visit to Thailand since Jeff hopes to adorn one entire wall of the Restaurant with pictures of the patrons in his adopted homeland. But if you're in a noodle mood, don't overlook the soupy noodles which are a definite highlight of the small but flavourful card. Northern thai food is heavily influenced by near-by neighbours Burma and Laos and the Burmese influenced Khao Soi Noodles ($8.35) takes chewy, toothsome egg noodles and bathes them in a mild yellow curry broth adorned with generous chunks of chicken or beef. A crispy sprinkling of deep-fried noodles added for texture elevates the dish to something special and you'll be ruing the fact that the plastic spoons offered aren't bigger.

Sukhothai Restaurant

If heat is what you're looking for then the Guaytiaw Sukhothai ($7.49) will have you sweating in a good way. It is possibly one of the best noodle dishes I've had in this city and is one hell of a balancing act of complementary flavours. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter. It's all there in a refined perfection of flavour all sexy and popping like a chorus of bra clasps at a sorority house slumber party. The spiky chili heat, gently soothed with lemongrass perfume-infused broth, is enriched with a signature tamarind tang. Huge chunks of intensely flavourful brisket, marinated for an entire day in a secret spice blend before it hits the bowl, add heft to the dish while crunchy spring onion, fragrant coriander and ground peanuts add texture and even more flavour.

Sukhothai Restaurant

Sweet green chicken curry (Geng Kiaw Wan, $7.49 with rice) is a deft expression of the classic dish employing punchy flavours where others versions are muted, using spice to mask the lack of depth.  Sukhothai's version is true to the rest of their menu an offers strong hits of lemongrass, chili, coconut and chicken flavour in quick succession with every tasty spoonful better than the last.

Exhausted from this scorching jets-vs -shark-worthy dance of flavour?  The deserts give you a chance to catch your breath.  Subtly sweet, chewy casava cakes offer respite from the spice or bath your tongue in intensely cocunutty tapioca pudding for a fine finish to the meal.

Sukhothai Restaurant

While the service can occasionally be a little on the slow side (at least for now) its come by honestly and at these prices for such high quality food you can afford to wait. If you're looking for a taste of real Thai instead of your standard ketchup-y noodle fare, you'd do well to head over to Sukhothai for a visit. Just be prepared to fight me for a spot in line.

Sukhothai Restaurant

Jeff Nuit took some time to tell BlogTO readers a little about Sukhothai in their own words:

What's your culinary background?

Nuit has been cooking ever since she can remember. She grew up in Northern Thailand and had to help her mother cook as a little girl. When it came to cooking, her mother was a perfectionist. This is where Nuit picked up her accute attention to detail in the kitchen.

We also ran a restaurant in Thailand called "the Curry Shack". It was located in a small, sleepy town called Pai, in Nothern Thailand. It quickly became a cool spot to hang out for the frequent tourists, and was praised for the delicious food, especially the curries and the Pad Thai. The word spread fast, and before we knew it, we had travellers coming in saying that they heard about us in Laos and Vietnam.

What inspired you to open Sukhothai?

Our basic goal is, when our customers walk into the restaurant, we want to make them feel that they have just walked into a little shop in the middle of Thailand. We want the customers who have been to Thailand, to be transported back, and for the customers who haven't been, to get a feel of what it would be like. We want to give them that same
friendly service that we gave in Thailand and, most importantly, that same amazing taste.

When are you planning to open throughout the week?

We are planning to open full-time again by the end of April

When will your menu be available online?

We just had an amazing photoshoot done of our food and we're working on the website now. Should be up very soon.

Give an example of a difficult experience you had trying to source authentic thai ingredients in Toronto.

Getting the proper ingredients for Sukhothai has been a nightmare at times. Nuit is very picky when it comes to what goes into the food. That means no substitutes. If we can't find exactly what we need, we don't sell the dish. We've had some instances where we started buying rare ingredients, and the suppliers just all of a sudden stopped stocking them, because we were the only ones buying it. We actually had to take dishes off the menu because of this. In other similar cases we were lucky enough to convince them to supply the ingredients just for us.

What's your favourite local Thai restaurant besides yours?

Since we can get great Thai food at home, we rarely go out for Thai food. The few times we did, it was pretty disappointing. I'm sure there are great Thai restaurants out there, but It's definitely tough to find real Thai food in Toronto.

How is Northern Thai food different from say Southern Thai food from the islands or food from Bangkok?

Northern Thai food is not as spicy as it is in the islands and a little less diverse than the food in Bangkok. There is more of a Laos and Burmese influence. Personally, my favourite Thai dish is the Khao soi, which is a Burmese-influenced dish. Coming back from Thailand, this was the one dish that I craved but could never find, so when we opened up Sukhothai, that was the first dish on the menu.

Update:  Sukhothai is now open Monday-Thursday 11:30 am to 9 pm and Friday-Saturday 11:30 am to 10 pm. 

Photos courtesy Adrienne Tam

Discussion

47 Comments

J / April 9, 2009 at 04:30 pm
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All I can say is the most awesome deep fried garlic chicken and yellow curry chicken I've Ever tasted !!!!!!!!!!!! is at Sukho Thai!!!
Mark / April 9, 2009 at 05:15 pm
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You won't find better tasting Thai dishes anywhere in the city! The pad thai is the best I've ever had!!
Lolita / April 10, 2009 at 07:58 am
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I heartily concur with this enticingly crafted write-up - it's definitely Thai that merits inconveniencing oneself for ... and inspires cravings for return visits...
Deanna / April 10, 2009 at 11:08 am
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Noo....the secret is out!! Ha, ha! Seriously the most authentic thai food in the city and the owners are very lovely, gracious sincere people. The pad thai is my friday mainstay. Excellent review!
Tass / April 10, 2009 at 01:24 pm
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Best Thai food without a doubt... Bonus is the price... Once you try it youll know what Im talking about...
Kaleb / April 11, 2009 at 05:03 pm
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My favorite place. Just wanted to point out that they are totally sweet and accommodating to vegetarians as well. And sometimes the dishes change a little bit if she finds some interesting vegetables at the market, which I love.
Jen Ford / April 11, 2009 at 07:36 pm
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I agree with everyone else--best Thai food in the city! My boyfriend goes through withdrawal when he hasn't had their Khao Soi in a while.
apetimberlake / April 11, 2009 at 09:18 pm
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Wow looks like a great place.
I worry about the "open weekends only" re. revenue
Junbug / April 15, 2009 at 08:26 am
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Great service! Great food! Great price! Sukho Thai is a TRIPLE THREAT! Tell your friends & family, this is the best spot in the TDOT for a taste of Thailand! Keep up the great work! See you this weekend!
Jason / April 19, 2009 at 05:48 pm
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We're there every weekend, religiously. The food is amazing.
smiley / April 26, 2009 at 12:13 am
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I went to this place despite a long TTC ride and a storm, and it was worth it!
I had sukothai pad thai, coconut chicken curry, and tom yam kung soup with
medium spice for takeout, and they were ALL GOOD!! They all tasted like someone
actually cooked them for you, and while I was eating I couldn't think about anything
else but the tasty food.
smiley / May 9, 2009 at 01:00 am
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NOW they are OPEN EVERYDAY between MONDAY to SATURDAY! (closed on Sundays)
aser / July 23, 2009 at 03:19 pm
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You're not supposed to bite into the galangal (or lemongrass) for the tom kha gai as the reviewer did. Just like you wouldn't bite into a big piece of ginger, you're supposed to eat around it.
Roy / February 28, 2010 at 07:40 am
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Ordered the garlic chicken, sukhothai pad thai, khao soi w/beef, and green curry w/chicken. Everything was great but what really stood out for us was the sukhothai pad thai and the khao soi. We liked the food so much we ordered another serving of garlic chicken for dessert!

Can't wait to come back and try more dishes. This so far for me might be the best Thai food in all of Toronto!
Anonymus / March 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm
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Don't let their looks fool you, they make the best pad thai in toronto, and other dishes that are so good I can't even say it :D..... cant wait toeat it.....
The foods great and it's real thai food, not like those other "True thai restaurants" you find across the street, sukhothai's pad thai even puts GOLDEN THAI's pad thai to shame. I recommend the shrimp chips or spring rolls as starters to get you started up for the awesome dishes i recommend, as meal, if your looking to lose some weight but you really wanna eat alot, try guaytiaw, its rich with soup and noodles with beef or chicken, but if you really wanna get into the thai spirit, try the khoi soi, its like the best!!!
Its abundant with rich,creamy sauce with yellow noodles and beef or chicken! Thats my story!!!
Anonymus / March 24, 2010 at 10:30 pm
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I forgot, it has a website, Sukhothaifood.com
pk / March 29, 2010 at 01:55 am
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Me and my fiancee are BEYOND excited to try this place (we are hoping for this weekend) Thai is one of our favourite cuisines and after seeing their menu and the beautiful pictures that make me want to eat my screen I feel we have yet to try something we can really call worthy till we try this place out!

I really hope they keep up the quality and perfection that they desire from the food. I don't mind waiting as long as it takes to get to eat the best food from the owner.
Singh / April 7, 2010 at 10:56 am
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Oh my god am I glad to move in one block away from this amazing restaurant. It gets my business at least once a month as it is, and you can bet it's only going to increase when it's a Stones Throw away. Best thai food in Toronto. Even better than some of the places I've been to in Thailand.

Kate & Rupert / November 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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We are currently in Pai, Thailand and coincidentally ate at the Curry Shack which is now run by Nuit's brother - Lee. Most amazing curry we've had in Thailand so far, we've ate there twice already. Upon conversation with Lee, we let him know we were from Toronto so he proceeded to tell us about his sister's restaurant there. What a small world! As soon as we get back to Toronto we'll be making a visit to Sukothai as Lee promised she makes her curry the same way!
Cliff from Vancouver / November 5, 2010 at 06:49 am
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Wow! This reminds me of a similar 6 table hole in the wall a half a block away from me in Vancouver called Thai Basil.(It is run by a young Thai guy.) Similarly, Sukothai is tha same distance from my best Toronto friend's place as Thai Basil is to me in Vancouver. Absolutely scrumptious deep fried garlic chicken morsels with spring roll dipping sauce,excellent tasty Pad Thai void of ketchup and stupendous friendly service accompanied with my favourite Thai beverage,Thai iced tea. It's way better than Golden Thai on Church & Jarvis by a long shot.
Voyage Thailande / December 30, 2010 at 03:46 am
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It seems really delicious !!!!
duncan / February 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm
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the FOOD at sukhothai is BOOM but the service is NOT!!!!

I have eaten here at least 10 times and half the time the service is bad. Waited 2+ hours TWICE on delivery for 1 pad thai n 1 curry. They hardly pick up the phone. at the restaurant, the service is alright but can take forever to get a table. overall, the place is too small for the amount of people that want to go there, that's why they opened the new place on adelaide (not as good).

the food at sukhothai is boom tho... tried most of menu and it's all boom diG. khao san road is aight but sukhothai food is real deal yah
millefeuille / March 3, 2011 at 11:11 am
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khao san road is not actually associated with sukhothai except that jeff and nuit used to be there.

what do you normally get from sukhothai? what did you have at khao san road?
Hana / April 24, 2011 at 06:40 pm
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Gastroenteritis after eating @ Sukho ThaiHad the spring rolls & green curry lemongrass soup. Order also included tom yum soup and pad thai with drinks.

Service was horrible. Attitude of hostess/servers came across as inattentive and annoyed by having customers.

I developed symptoms of gastroenteritis that evening and it has continued up to today. Initally thought it was a bad combinaton of curry spices, however I tolerate spices...+READ Had the spring rolls & green curry lemongrass soup. Order also included tom yum soup and pad thai with drinks.

Service was horrible. Attitude of hostess/servers came across as inattentive and annoyed by having customers.

I developed symptoms of gastroenteritis that evening and it has continued up to today. Initally thought it was a bad combinaton of curry spices, however I tolerate spices quite well and started to notice that the symptoms were the same as the gastro I'd see when working in a pediatric ward--it's a common child occurrence.

Gastro is commonly a result of food being prepared in environments where there is poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

After the poor service me and my guest received, I have no doubt that Sukho Thai is inconsistent in the quality of their service and quality of food preparation.

Also let me add--I used to be a server and as a result am a very pleasant and polite customer and an over-the-top Tipper so there is in no way poor service or poor food was justified
hana / April 24, 2011 at 06:41 pm
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Gastroenteritis after eating @ Sukho ThaiHad the spring rolls & green curry lemongrass soup. Order also included tom yum soup and pad thai with drinks.

Service was horrible. Attitude of hostess/servers came across as inattentive and annoyed by having customers.

I developed symptoms of gastroenteritis that evening and it has continued up to today. Initally thought it was a bad combinaton of curry spices, however I tolerate spices...+READ Had the spring rolls & green curry lemongrass soup. Order also included tom yum soup and pad thai with drinks.

Service was horrible. Attitude of hostess/servers came across as inattentive and annoyed by having customers.

I developed symptoms of gastroenteritis that evening and it has continued up to today. Initally thought it was a bad combinaton of curry spices, however I tolerate spices quite well and started to notice that the symptoms were the same as the gastro I'd see when working in a pediatric ward--it's a common child occurrence.

Gastro is commonly a result of food being prepared in environments where there is poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

After the poor service me and my guest received, I have no doubt that Sukho Thai is inconsistent in the quality of their service and quality of food preparation.

Also let me add--I used to be a server and as a result am a very pleasant and polite customer and an over-the-top Tipper so there is in no way poor service or poor food was justified
maan / May 7, 2011 at 07:32 pm
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the service is very good and the food is lovely
tD / September 3, 2011 at 01:56 am
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Amazing food but horrible service.
Marisa / December 29, 2011 at 06:29 pm
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We love eating here - delicious and amazing flavours - and have been ordering with great success for delivery (takes a long time!) and takeout. I have had lots of difficulty ordering over the phone (busy, no answer) and this evening when I tried to order I was told that they don't deliver to Queen and Pape any longer and that we would have had to wait 1.5 hours... strange since they are a 5 min. drive away and especially since we have been ordering delivery from them for over a year, a fact which I mentioned to the lady on the phone. I guess they have lost 2 dedicated customers. Customer service is a big disappointent. :(
C / December 30, 2011 at 09:42 pm
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Best Thai food in the city - hands down! And friends of mine who have been to Thailand have said its the most authentic Thai food they've had in the city.
Mary / February 7, 2012 at 05:31 pm
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Infuriating to try to call for delivery. They pick up the phone and hang up without saying hello. It is not worth the hassle.
Leigh / June 21, 2012 at 02:38 pm
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Great food but atmosphere, service and attitude are terrible!
Gembaha replying to a comment from Leigh / June 21, 2012 at 03:32 pm
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Leigh, you have stepped into another culturally dysfunctional food place that inhabits TO. I get the feeling that while they love to make really good food, they really HATE their customers. Give me your money, take the food,and get out, NOW! This crap has happened to my friends lots of times.
che / June 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm
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Everybody`s complaining for their food but they keep coming back!well business is business you can`t please evreybody,but for me and my friends this is the best !!!
stacey replying to a comment from che / June 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm
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if your just so sensitive then no need to come and eat to an asian cuisine,which people are hardworking and doing their best to do their job!!!remember if you are rude to people,People will return it back to you!!!!!!that`s what yooo call karma!!!!!
Star replying to a comment from tD / July 21, 2012 at 08:43 am
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***1st visit was Feb 2012--- service was horrible, forgot to bring both orders of spring rolls,...Food was good, minimal selections.....Gave them the benefit of the doubt so I returnd:
***2nd visit was July2012 ----- service again was horrible(not the same waiter\waitress) forgot to bring the 2nd main course item (2 people dined) after reminding them, 5min later it came ??
***Won't be returning for now-- OFF I go to GOLDEN THAI....
R / November 14, 2012 at 11:51 am
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Sukhothai is the best Thai restaurant in the East End of Toronto
Tamar / April 12, 2013 at 08:57 am
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Went to the Wellington St location last night. Surprised that it was empty at 6pm on a Thursday, but quickly filled up an hour later.
Service was outstanding. Mike (friend of the owner) sat with us and gave his recommendations and gave us a bit of a background about the restaurant. Decor and ambiance was beautiful and inviting.
The food was incredible... None of that fake Thai stuff. Authentic cuisine only. Highly recommend this place for anyone.
Tom Thailande / June 18, 2013 at 06:29 am
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Wow, the cuisine of Thailand is so wonderful. Thank you very much for your article because it gives me useful information about Thai food and now I know which food I should try when I visit this country.
Xantu / July 19, 2013 at 09:29 am
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It's no longer the small, innocent, and the special restaurant it used to be. They have increased the prices, curries are less authentic, staff has changed and become more money minded.

I must have referred at least 300 people directly and indirectly over the past 3-4 years not to forget the regular visits by me and my friends. Very disappointed with their expansion with lack of authenticity.

No more referrals any more and in search of a refreshing new authentic thai restaurant.
cher / July 26, 2013 at 11:25 am
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the quality of service is not desame,the front staff that i used to see every now and then is not there anymore,the new staff need to work hard even better,I used to love this place but now i dont think i wanna come back.
jay / September 24, 2013 at 09:58 pm
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Prices have increased over the years, but the food is best in the city for Thai.
I've gone here since they've opened. Disappointed by prices, best to call in a reservation,
but best pad thai, green curry chicken and garlic chicken in the north east. Loyal follower, only complaint is the prices - prefer when it was a hole in the wall. But change is necessary and inflation is a reality.
Erin / March 4, 2014 at 03:16 pm
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Good food but terrible, rude service by several of the staff, including the manager. Our group felt like it was an inconvience for them to have customers. We wanted to reflect this in the tip, however much to our surprise a 17% gratuity had already been included on the bill without any notification of such charges, neither by the staff nor printed on the menu.
Hakkodu Joe replying to a comment from Erin / March 4, 2014 at 03:45 pm
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17% GRATUITY FOR TAKE OUT! ARE THEY INSANE? My friends and I will stay far, far, farther yet away from these money grubbing grasping greedy scrooge-mongering people.
June / June 14, 2014 at 08:49 am
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Awful, just AWFUL service. I have never been disappointed when dining in at #SukhoThaiToronto in Wellington but tonight's experience was extremely unpleasant.

1. Rude and confrontational server. My friend was feeling nauseated and decided not to order. But I did tell him I am ordering for the both of us. Yet he purposely asked her 3 times to order and gave her the dirtiest look each time she said "no thank you". Each time we asked for extra water or hot sauce, he acted like I just asked him to do the most difficult task on earth. Then I was paying my bill and punched in the wrong pin because I was in a rush to go home. He refused to take my card for the second time and said something is wrong with my cards pin, even though I told him I entered the wrong pin. What a fucking douche.

2. I always thought SukhoThai used fresh ingredients. But all 3 of us that ordered curry based dishes felt queasy right after. And by the end of the night my tummy sure did not react well to the food. I am sure that was not a coincidence.

I can understand that mistakes like this happen with ingredients but that server and the way he behaved is completely uncalled for. If you are working in customer service, then please do a proper job. Rude, judgemental and confrontational servers should be held more accountable. Yeah, sure everyone has bad days but ruining a party's experience is unfair. It wouldn't be tolerated in other professions so you are no exception either.

Normally I am not the type to complain but if I wasn't in such a rush to get home, I would have stayed back to speak to the manager, who btw was a really nice lady. Despite being one of my favorite restaurants, I am never coming back here again. What a disappointment.
Violet / August 19, 2014 at 11:57 am
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Food is tasty, but not as mind-blowing as when I first tried them years ago. Did takeout a month ago and I had to call 5 times to get through to someone. The first 4 times the phone rang to voicemail, which was full. Ate at the Wellington location 2 weeks ago. I usually love the khao soi, but this time it was luke warm and only 5 sad, small chunks of beef. Quality and care has slipped significantly. Sabai Sabai is your best bet if you want to sample the best of Chef Nuit, there's still passion there.
Local / October 5, 2014 at 12:08 am
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I have read through the reviews chronologically. There is a theme: good food, bad service. I would say: mediocre food terrible service. The positive reviews of the restaurant either illustrate that it was once good, or that the owners are manipulating social media, or that the reviewers are ignorant. Recently I went to Pai. Try that restaurant: more authentic flavours, more flavour over all. Better Thai food.
LocalYokel replying to a comment from Local / October 15, 2014 at 10:39 pm
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to Local: you said "Recently I went to Pai. Try that restaurant: more authentic flavours, more flavour over all. Better Thai food."

Are you aware that the owners of Sukhothai and Pai are the same?

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