Johor Kaki Travels for Food

johorkaki@gmail celebrates retirement in Singapore travels to Johor Malaysia & worldwide for food

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

Last Sunday late afternoon, after the rain stopped and clouds cleared, my friends and I went for early dinner on Baldwin Street. We walked by Koh Lipe and was drawn by its emptiness. I know, you would usually want to go for restaurants with a huge line up as that would be a sign of good food. 

This is the place, with the huge line ups on a regular day. But, we were there at 4pm and the rain had just stopped so it was a good opportunity for us to finally get to try out this popular spot.

Koh Lipe is the name of a tropical island in southern Thailand and they offer dishes from that region, like Gaeng Ka Ti Sa Tor Nua (stinky bean curry), Choo Chee Pia Too (fried mackerel). Both of which I would like to try on my next visit.

Waxy, crunchy stinky beans is an acquired taste but I am not unfamiliar with it as it is commonly eaten also in Singapore and Malaysia (where I lived up to my teens). Over there, it is known as petai and cooked with hot spices similar to the Thai way.

At the door, you’ll be greeted by an ipad. This somehow felt cold and unwelcoming. But, you will soon understand the need for the ipad. It's for customers to join their virtual line and would come in handy on busy days. Since we got there at off peak hours, we didn’t need to wait and got a table right away.

Once we were greeted by our server, the ice began to melt quickly and all was well. Three of us, we chose to sit outside on their 20 seat patio as they do not have air conditioning indoors.   

Our waitress was very friendly, speaking with a Thai accent, she explained to us her favourite dish on the menu. She spoke with such enthusiasm that we just had to order up her recommendation - Luok Jhim.

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

This is a large sharing platter of steamed prawns, green shelled mussels, tilapia, squid, rice noodles, and a green chili spicy sauce. And a side of washed romaine green lettuce. Let’s talk about the components first. 

The seafood was fresh and unseasoned (no salt added to the seafood), so as to let its natural seafood brininess shine. 

My favourites were the squid and prawns. Squid, not calamari rings, were steamed just right which is the best way to eat squid – tender yet slightly crunchy. The same goes for prawns. It was very thoughtful of them to de-shell the prawns. All we had to do was to assemble each bite to our liking.

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

First a big lettuce leaf, then a bed of steamed rice noodles, then seafood of choice, next drizzle on the green chili sauce. Speaking of which, wow, this is the star of the dish. It’s surprisingly spicy! Its green hue makes the mind think nothing of the sauce, but wait till you try it. It’s quite powerful, packed with flavour and heat. 

The main flavours were fresh chilies, fish sauce, lime, and lemongrass. The whole dish is great for a summery fair – healthy, light and refreshing. When I start thinking about recreating a dish at home, you know that I really liked the dish. And this is one of those dishes.

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

Next, we had Pad Thai. It’s my go-to dish whenever I’m at a Thai restaurant outside of Thailand. I don’t know my rationale, but I tend to judge Thai restaurants by how good their Pad Thai is. Maybe it’s because every Thai restaurant serves it (at least that’s true in North American Thai restaurants).   

Koh Lipe’s Pad Thai was done to my liking – sweet and savoury. We ordered it with chicken, and medium spice. Next time I order this, I’ll go with extra spice as I couldn’t detect any heat at all. But that’s no problem, there’s plenty more that’s going on in this dish so I didn’t miss the heat. 

The rice noodles were chewy and coated with tamarind sauce. Peanuts and bean sprouts added a nice crunch. Perhaps the pieces of chicken in this dish were the only let down. They used chicken breast, so it was rather dry. But still a good dish overall.

Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen @ 35 Baldwin Street Toronto

By the time we finished our meal, streams of customers had arrived and the restaurant was packed like its usual self. Despite the busyness, our waitress was very friendly and thoughtful. She saw that my napkin had fell to the ground and without me asking, came round with new napkins for everyone. That’s good service 👏👏👏

Since we sat outside on the patio, we didn’t get to enjoy the bright décor on the inside of the restaurant.

From my quick peek, every corner of the restaurant is painted with multi-colour murals and has a very playful cheerful feel. There's a tut tut, the ubiquitous scooter taxi in Thailand and rattan (cane) fish traps hanging from the ceiling, reminding us about idyllic Koh Lipe island.

On the second floor of the narrow restaurant, you’ll even find a colourful canoe hanging from the ceiling!

My friend kept telling us to “imagine you are in Thailand”. Koh Lipe Thai Kitchen's food made it easy.

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Restaurant nameKoh Lipe Thai Kitchen
Address: 38 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1, Canada
GPS43°39'21.5"N 79°23'36.6"W 🌐 43.655980, -79.393499
Tel+1 416-599-9988
Hours: 12:00 noon - 10:00pm

Johor Kaki Toronto Correspondent

By Johor Kaki's Toronto correspondent

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't. All comments with genuine identities are published.