I often get asked for Thai recommendations. Like an old man, I start my answers with, “Picture it, Montreal 2012… a quaint little mom and pop Thai eatery located in Little Italy. Unassuming and under the radar serving the best Pad Thai west of the Mekong…” This place closed a while ago and will forever be my golden standard by which all Thai food is compared to. They were old fashioned, unpretentious and served delicious homemade food. Since then, there have been many restaurants serving delicious Thai food. Fun places run by younger generations trying to make this cuisine cool. With spots like Thammada, Pamika, Mae Sri, and Thai Sep it’s easy to see why Thai food has become so popular.
I rarely write about restaurants off-island. But I happened to be in Laval-West and remembered someone telling me about a family run Thai/Cambodian restaurant that I should check out. Who am I to overlook a place serving spicy Southeast Asian food on one of the year’s coldest? I stopped by Lotus d’Asie to get my fix.
There are commonalities between Thai and Cambodian cuisine. Like many boarder countries – especially in Asia, cuisines cross over and are adapted. However, they’re not interchangeable. Cambodian cuisine isn’t as spicy or sweet as Thai cuisine, but they’re similar. Contrary to popular belief, Cambodian food is not “Thai food lite“. Lotus d’Asie serves Thai favourites as well as Cambodian specialties.
Spicy Papaya Salad
A spicy papaya salad is one the my favourite things to start a Thai meal with. A mix of crunchy strands of green papaya, shredded carrots, and sliced green beans. Tossed with tomatoes and topped with roasted peanuts, cilantro and chili. The dressing is a perfect mix of sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter. Addictive. Next time I’m going to ask for a glass of the dressing to sip on – like I do with gravy when I eat barbecue chicken. I asked them to put extra chili in this; Jason likes his papaya salad spicy! They asked me if I was sure. I was sure. I told them to make me regret it, make me contemplate all the bad decisions I’ve ever made in my life. My mouth is lined with asbestos. It’s impenetrable by heat or spice. Everyone else said it was spicy. I laughed.
Next time I’m going to ask for a glass of the dressing to sip on. Like I do with gravy when I eat barbecue chicken.
Pattaya Stir Fry
The Pattaya stir fry was tasty. Chicken with onion, bell peppers, zucchini, baby corn, fresh pineapple and a ton of bamboo shoots. If you’ve ever had bamboo shoots, you’ll recognize the taste right away. It’s almost floral and fruity. It’s distinct. The curry sauce balances out the flavour and each bite was a mouthful of different textures and tastes in perfect harmony. It’s served with vermicelli noodles. I preferred it with rice.
I also got the Bangkok soup as an appetizer. It’s served with rice noodles and was low key delicious. A luscious aromatic broth made with lemongrass, kafir lime leaves, and galangal was so flavourful. A bit tart, each spoonful massaged those salivary right at the back of your neck that makes you crave more and more. We also got the General tao. WAIT. I know what you’re thinking. But, it is what it is, someone wanted it, so we ordered it. Large pieces of chicken lightly battered and fried then slathered in a classic sweet and sour sauce. It was good.
What’s eating Thai food without ordering a Pad Thai. Everyone knows if a restaurant’s Pad Thai is delicious, it’s worth its weight in gold. The Pad Thai at Lotus d’Asie is delicious. Classic stir fried rice noodles mixed with chicken, egg, fresh chives and bean sprouts, toasted crushed peanuts and lime.
One wrong move and the entire dish is shot. It’s a delicate balance of all the ingredients. And one of the most forgotten, yet most prevalent ingredient is the “kiss of the wok.”
Where restaurants get it wrong is the sauce. Thai food is known for it’s masterful balance of sweet, salty, bitter and sourness. One wrong move and the entire dish is shot. It’s a delicate balance of all the ingredients. And one of the most forgotten, yet most prevalent ingredient is the “kiss of the wok.” The extreme heat and smokiness that the cooking vessel imparts onto the food and becomes part of the flavour profile. I’ve never seen them, but I can tell that the woks at Lotus d’Asie are well seasoned.
Lotus d’Asie has some other interesting items on the menu like Mee Siam and Cha Kroeung and Lok Lak beef that if I were ever in the area again, I wouldn’t hesitate to try. The process was quick and efficient. I ordered in advance and there was an magic curtain where mom pops out from behind to hand you your food and collect payment. It’s nice to know that there’s a proper family run Thai restaurant in that part of Laval. It beats the chain option any day of the week.
4765 Boulevard Dagenais O, Laval, QC,
579 979 8880
Bring your own wine (in a normal world). But you’re getting take out to eat responsibly at home, so it kinda still is, but you’re not actually bringing your wine anywhere so… yeah.