Pad Thai is one of those universally loved dishes that you try recreating at home but only end up wasting thirty dollars of ingredients. It's just one of those dishes that you have to leave to the professionals.
If you’re looking for the best Pad Thai in Toronto, I strongly urge you to visit IMM Thai Kitchen in Little Italy. But you’ll have to be specific about which kind of Pad Thai you want since IMM Thai has two very delicious options for you to choose.
One is the traditional Pad Thai that IMM Kitchen calls its “Famous Pad Thai,” which is the familiar dish you know and love with a unique twist. The second choice is IMM Thai Kitchen’s unique culinary creation - the utterly mouth-watering Tom Yum Lobster Pad Thai.
Of course, if you’re an indecisive eater like me, you can do what I did and order both.
A Brief History about Pad Thai
Pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand, doesn’t date back centuries like China’s Peking Duck. Like Vietnam’s Pho soup, Pad Thai is a relatively recent creation.
In the late 1930s, the prime minister, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, long wished for Thailand to establish its own distinct cultural identity set apart from China. So he commissioned a cooking competition for the country’s chefs to brainstorm a new dish that Thailand could call its own. And thus, Pad Thai was born.
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is an ultra-popular Thai street food that is a pan-fried combination of rice noodles, stir-fried eggs, fried tofu, tangy tamarind orange sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and palm sugar. This delicious fast-fry dish comes served with chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges.
While traditional Pad Thai is cooked with chicken or shrimp, you can order vegan and vegetarian versions. There are many Thai restaurants scattered around the downtown area, but if you genuinely want to try the best Pad Thai in Toronto, keep reading!
Why IMM Thai Kitchen?
Every Sunday, my girlfriend and I make it a point to try out a new downtown restaurant. Desperately craving Pad Thai, we chose IMM Thai Kitchen based on one of their Instagram posts featuring Pad Thai noodles beautifully held together in a soft egg crate. After being impressed with their food presentation, we googled their location, and off we went.
Tasting the “Famous Pad Thai”
Appetite always starts with the eyes. The attractive way that food looks on our plate tempts our eyes and makes us excited to taste it. And IMM Thai Kitchen’s artful way of presenting their Pad Thai noodles wrapped inside a fried egg was not only brilliant but also very tasty.
We took a moment to admire the delicate culinary skill and many minutes posing the Pad Thai dish for a round of amateur food photos. We almost felt bad about eating it. Almost. After breaking the egg net with my fork, I was happy to see delicious pan-fried noodles slide out with a yummy aroma of Tamarind and peanut sauce.
Taking my first bite, I experienced the tasty signature mix of spicy, sour, sweet, and salty that my taste buds have come to love. The egg net did a fantastic job of keeping the Pad Thai noodles nice and hot. The texture of the noodles was perfect, with a delightful squishy texture that was bursting with flavour. Satisfied with the first bite, I poured the crushed nuts and squeezed my lime wedge because that’s what you do to bring out the maximum flavours of the Tamarind in your Pad Thai.
If you can handle spicy food, you must try IMM Thai Kitchen’s dried house chilli sauce. It comes generously served in a spoon set on the side of the plate but is careful - a little bit of Thai chilli goes a long way.
Trying The Best New Pad Thai in Toronto
Now for the main event - IMM Thai Kitchen’s signature dish that everyone raves. The server lets me know beforehand that the Tom Yum Lobster Pad Thai is by far their best-selling dish.
After years of working at a Thai restaurant during university, I consider myself somewhat of a Pad Thai connoisseur. Like Johnny Depp’s roast pork-loving character in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” I do go out of my way to explore Thai restaurants to see if their Pad Thai is up to scratch.
After trying so many Pad Thai dishes, you develop a mental checklist of what to expect, such as yummy, greasy rice noodles with strong undertones of tangy Tamarind flavour with a rich, savoury peanut sauce finish.
But trying the Tom Yum Lobster Pad Thai was the only time out of all of my adventures where I was stunned - in the best way possible.
Pad Thai with Zesty Tom Yum Flavour
As you would have guessed from its name, the Tom Yum Lobster Pad Thai is infused with the zesty sour and tangy flavours of Thailand’s signature Tom Yum soup.
If you didn’t know, Tom Yum soup is another one of Thailand’s signature dishes, known for its delicious hot and sour flavours. It’s brimming with fragrant ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and crushed red chilli peppers.
The genius part? The chefs at IMM Thai Kitchen found a way to blend these exquisite flavours into their Pad Thai. And the results are a Pad Thai with a flavoursome sour taste that makes you excited for each next bite.
The delicious tart flavours of this fully realized hybrid Pad Thai pair perfectly with the generous lobster tail marinated with Tom Yum sauce. My teeth sink in, and the lobster tail lights up my tongue’s taste buds like a Christmas tree. The meat rolls around my mouth with the soft texture of butter with a yummy acidity and savoury aftertaste.
My girlfriend and I looked at each other at the same time. We both knew there would be no leftovers to take home.
Is this the Best Pad Thai in Toronto?
In short, yes! Good food is all about artfully mixing flavours in pad thai. And the chefs at IMM Thai Kitchen certainly know what they’re doing. Suppose you want a fresh spin on Pad Thai without getting too far away from what makes it so fantastic and unforgettable. In that case, you must try the Tom Yum Lobster Pad Thai that is hands down, in my opinion, the best Pad Thai in Toronto.
And suppose you prefer to stick to traditional Pad Thai. In that case, you’ll certainly appreciate the “Famous Pad Thai” for its classic, rich flavours, as well as its impeccable presentation.
Written by Jack Tran