Golden Chicken… Pat’s gift to the world

When I was living in Kingston my housemates and I ate at a place called Royal Angkor at least once a week and always ordered the same dish, item #6, golden chicken.  Every fall, we would reconvene on this little establishment to enjoy this dish and annually comment on how much bigger Pat’s (the owner and head cook) daughter had gotten over the summer.  By the time we left she was running the register when we went in the evenings whereas the first time we ate there she hid in the back, shying away from all the customers.  They grow up so quickly.

A buddy and I came to Toronto and vowed to find the golden chicken equivalent here.  We spent over ten months eating at every single Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurant we could find but left each one a little disappointed (or sometimes VERY disappointed.  We ate a lot of bad Thai food).  Then, on one fateful evening in March of 2008, I read an online post that said, “I found it!  I have found golden chicken in Toronto!”  At first I was skeptical.  I had been burned by many other posts before but as I read on I thought that this may be the real deal.  The writer, who was a Queen’s grad,  went on to tell the story of how a fellow from Toronto ran into Pat in Cambodia one summer and they started discussing food.  Pat had given the fellow some of his recipes to start a place up in Toronto.  I phoned my friend and said, “Cancel whatever dinner plans you have, I think I found it!”  The place in Toronto is called Khmer Thai and is located on St. Clair just east of Dufferin.  This is quite a trek from downtown (took us about an hour to get there by TTC).  We approached the restaurant which had a huge yellow sign with blue and green writing.  The walls inside the restaurant were also yellow and there was fake foliage hanging from the celing with christmas tree lights.  Needless to say, it looked like a really sketchy place (the picture below was taken when we went today after our soccer game).

IMAG0020

As soon as we walked into the establishment, I could smell the spice in the air.  My buddy and I inhaled, looked at each other and knew that this was it.  We ordered the golden chicken (which was also item #6 at this place) and waited with great anticipation.  After one bite, we knew that we would no longer have to travel three hours east on the 401 to get our fix.  Memories began to fill my mind as my eyes rolled into the back of my head in utter delight.  I remembered the first time I had the dish and seeing the puddle of grease on the side.  I’ll admit, the description on the menu (“Spicy hot and sour chicken, peanut, lemon grass, on rice) and it’s appearance don’t seem the most appealing but then I remember the taste…oh….so good!

IMAG0019From the first bite to the last bite, you are hit with an incredible amount of spice and heat.  This is a very spicy dish, one that causes me to sweat a little if I’m not properly prepared (conditioning my mouth to be able to take the heat, conditioning that is done through numerous wing nights, and adding Sriracha sauce to everything).  Once you get through the heat you start to taste the other array of curry spices, the strong but not overpowering taste of peanuts and yet another hit of heat from the green chili peppers that are disbursed through the dish.

Every time we’ve gone to Royal Angkor or Khmer Thai, we look through the rest of the menu and think that some of the other items sound really good but can never bring ourselves to order them.  Only once has a member of our circle of friends decided against the #6, myself in the spring of 2006.  I decided to be bold and try special #1.  The other four members of our party ordered the usual #6.  The dish was a vermicelli dish with a mixed of veggies, grilled chicken and a diced up spring roll.  It was good but since then we all know that almost nothing can top the golden chicken.  It is GOLDEN (hahaha, bad pun).  Today’s experience is a real testament to that commitment to the dish.  As we walked in the lady behind the cash desk began grabbing menus and we stopped her saying we already knew what we wanted to order.  “Golden chicken?” she asked.  All three of us had huge smiles on our faces and nodded in response.  “Did Pat send you?” was her next question.  We laughed and said that he made us find it on our own.  I sat with my friends and told them that when we went back to Kingston for homecoming in the fall of 2007 I asked Pat if there was anything like this in Toronto he responded, “No, you’re going to have to come back here if you want some golden chicken.”  I still don’t fully understand why Pat would deny us the pleasure of his recipe in Toronto.  Oh well, we have found it now. Even now when we take trips to Montreal, New York or Ottawa we go out of our way to stop into Kingston to pay Pat a visit and enjoy the dish we all love.  Thanks Pat.

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~ by jlowjlow on July 13, 2009.

4 Responses to “Golden Chicken… Pat’s gift to the world”

  1. So this is the famous golden chicken… I’ll have to make a visit soon.

  2. :D~~~~~~~~~~~~
    (That’s me drooling)

    Can’t believe you ordered a #1 once. WTF JLow. Was I there?

    Can we meet in Kingston soon please?

    By the way, I googled “Golden Chicken Kingston” and this page was ranked first. Excellent. So hungry.

    Love,
    B.

  3. I’ve been looking for something like the Royal Angkor’s Golden Chicken in Toronto for about 5 years now. They used to make it so hot for me, I’d be weeping tears of joy. It was without question one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ll be checking out Khmer Thai as soon as I can.

  4. There is an outstanding golden curry at Salad King on Yonge. It’s different from the dish you’re describing but reminded me of the same thing: I always order it and I’ve never tasted a better thai dish anywhere.

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