Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of joining owners Donald Drouin and Chef Ko as they celebrated their 1st anniversary of serving authentic north-eastern Thai cuisine to diners in The Junction neighbourhood as well as across the city. ISAAN DER is a cozy restaurant located along the Dundas Street W stretch known as restaurant mile and over the past twelve months, they’ve earned many loyal foodie fans who dine-in or order online for personal pick-up or via 3 of the city’s leading delivery services. www.isaander.comAttending the auspicious occasion were local City Councillor Sarah Doucette and her aide Catherine (below centre), online influencer Vernon Chang a.k.a. MoVernie (3rd from L), and local food producers/entrepreneurs Sandra and Carlos Dasilva from No.7 Hot Sauce (at left)who were on hand to raise a glass of cheer with Donald, Chef Ko and their staff.Regular diners were also treated to celebratory mimosas and some fruity treats…MoVernie interviewed Donald & Chef Ko for his blog and social media, then took some great close-up photos of his meal… To celebrate this special milestone, Isaan Der is actually giving gifts to their customers – complimentary $20 gift cards (while supplies last) when diners spend $50 or more (before tax, tips or alcohol) for in-house dining or online personal pick-up orders, so make sure you visit or order your pick-up meals between March 13 – 18 to take advantage of this great reward.So here’s to another year’s success and even more deelish Thai feasts with friends and family!
So apart from the bad grammar (s.b. “and me”) the headline here really does tell the story of Toronto’s small but mighty ISAAN DER Thai restaurant and its equally small but mighty queen of the kitchen, Chef Ko (pictured below).I was recently turned on to this snug and beautifully decorated dining establishment located in the heart of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood by fellow foodies and owners of No. 7 Hot Sauce, Carlos and Sandra, who told me about the incredible food and lovely people who run Isaan Der. Chef Ko, along with her Canadian husband Donald, run the place like clockwork, juggling take-out and home delivery orders with quiet aplomb as they and their servers offer personal but discreet table-side service to their guests, many of whom are neighbours and regular/repeat diners.Attention to detail is key at Isaan Der – just look at these cute elephant hooks for coats or purses located behind every table for diners’ convenience.I recently spoke with Donald and Chef Ko about their journey from Thailand to Toronto and the fabulous food they serve to hungry fans Tuesdays thru Sundays.
Chef Ko, what first inspired you to become a professional chef? Having had the opportunity to travel around Thailand as a journalist for Channel 7 news, I have discovered that it’s not all Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. There are lots of delicious dishes from every part of Thailand. Did you study under any well-known chef or in a professional kitchen? I studied at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is also a 5-star hotel in Bangkok, in their Professional Thai Chef program as well as at Kasesart University to learn about the origins of some of our well known dishes.
You specialize in traditional fine Thai cuisine at Isaan Der– how important is it that you use fresh, locally sourced ingredients for your menu? We only use the freshest of ingredients for our food and every dish is made à la carte, meaning every dish you order is made specifically for you. We do NOT have anything pre-made so dishes might take a few minutes longer getting to your table….but the wait is worth it!Donald, since opening Isaan Der in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood in March , how have you seen your customer base grow? Since opening, we’ve seen tremendous growth; from 3 people in the kitchen to now more than 8 dealing with the volume which we handle with great care and efficiency. It’s our loyal customers with whom we have had table-side conversations, educating them on the many differences in Thai food. We are certainly no better than any other Thai restaurant, but we do know that we are ‘different’.Donald, any exciting news about menu or service you’d like to share? Here we grow! We recently changed our menus adding several new items to replace those we have “retired” for now. We cater to everyone with dietary restrictions such as celiac, vegan, food allergies as well as likes/dislikes. We can do it all as our dishes are made for you…any way you like it!
We’ve seen a tremendous increase in our Doordash delivery as well as personal take-out with our online ordering. Thanks to our brand new ordering app (for both iPhone & android) we’re able to streamline the dining experience for those dining at home. Easy-peasy with a simple click, click and done! We no longer take phone orders so we’re able to focus on personal table-side service in the restaurant. But if people have questions about our menu we are certainly available via phone queries. See below the special promotion for 1st time app orders:
Isaan Der is definitely one of my favourite Toronto restaurants and I’m especially fond of their Shrimp Roll appetizer – I frequently construct a meal by combining 2 orders of those with a salad. I love the little noodle ribbons and bows tying them up (see below). The handcrafted chili dipping sauce is super deelish, too.You MUST try the Golden Bags and Spring Rolls (below)….
And each Wednesday is “Wine Wednesday” with $3 off your glass of featured wine…..…followed by “Beer Thursdays” when your favourite brew is only $5!Located at 2961 Dundas West (a few blocks W of Keele) there’s lots of parking (on street and in the green P lot behind) and prompt bus transit (take the #40 from Dundas W subway stn). Check out their menu, hours of operation and directions here: www.isaander.com