Green Papaya offers a medley of Asian fusion cuisine, featuring Thai and Vietnamese dishes, with really great prices in the midtown Yonge and Eglinton area. With immaculately clean and contemporary furnishings that make for a sleek, smart-casual setting with a well-rounded menu, Green Papaya stands strong among competing restaurants in the area.
The menu is an array of Thai and Vietnamese fusion dishes like dim sum, curry, saucy stir-fries, wok dishes, and pho. I ordered the General Tao ($10.99) because it's my favourite North American Chinese dish, and I was pleased with the soft breaded chunks of chicken drenched in sweet and spicy sauce. My date chose the three-course dinner special for only $15.99. The Thai crispy spring rolls appetizer was really good, although a bit greasy, and the mango salad was deliciously fresh, sweet, and innovative. As a main, the coconut peanut chicken was impressive, with a thick and rich peanut sauce that was particularly filling. The highlight of the evening, hands down, was the spicy Thai tomyum soup with vegetables and lime leaves. Every restaurant has a different twist to this Thai specialty, and Green Papaya really impressed me with a delicious burst of hot and sour flavour that can make your nose run and a healthy amount of mushrooms and other vegetables. I would go back and get a large version of that soup ($8.50) and try one of their house specialties, like five spices chicken with lemongrass and honey ($11.99) or grilled salmon with teriyaki sauce and pad thai noodles ($14.99).
However, the restaurant needs to improve in the hospitality realm. That's not to say the servers weren’t attentive to a certain degree — they were, but they lacked much-needed enthusiasm. A smile goes a long way, and none of the waitstaff seemed too pleased with what they were serving or doing. When perusing the menu, they told us strictly that no, they cannot make the soup spicy (other suggestions would be nice), there are no substitutions allowed, the pot of tea is only for one person, and “we’re out of coconut water.” Too many restaurants in this city rely on good food without understanding the fundamental importance of having good, friendly service — that's what gets a customer to keep coming back. Without that service, and even with delicious food, I’m left pondering why I didn’t just spend half that amount to cook a lovely meal at home or go to another restaurant where they try to make you feel like family.
Overall, Green Papaya is worth checking out among the other midtown restaurants, and it has a fair price-point for good food, a wide array of elegant dishes, and a quite nice, clean, and contemporary backdrop.