Toffy is an upmarket Thai restaurant serving delicious Thai and other Southeast Asian dishes in a grand setting evocative of a European emissary’s Southeast Asian estate.
The entrance is plain with bare wood paneling and a glass wine display, but once you hit the second floor, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a European governess’ antique collection during the 19th century Orientalism craze. Bodhisattvas and other trinkets decorate each corner, along with what looks like an ancient Thai tire swing. A wall slogan reading “we serve oriental food” drives the point home.
Fortunately, the subtle museum-esque lighting of pitch darkness alternating with warm glow, prevents it from feeling too tacky. The third and final floor keeps the low-key feel but throws in larger group tables, and a balcony with candle-lit lounge chairs and tables. Staff seemed eager (maybe even a bit antsy) to please.
The dim atmosphere doesn’t translate to the fare, which is bright and flavorful as Thai should be. And the menu provides the perfect trailer for the sensory thrillride to come, with its encyclopedic spread of dishes and pics worthy of a bestselling Thai cookbook.
For starters, try the salads like classic spicy papaya (58RMB), pomelo (58RMB), or our favorite, spicy and sour pork neck (68RMB), large tender neck slices pasted with chili and garlic. Or if you’re in a hot mood, head up the Vietnamese-style prawn spring rolls or the chicken spring rolls with yellow curry sauce (both 58RMB) from the appetizer section.
Those craving a seafood main should skip the tiger shrimp dishes and go for the crab, which is served steamed, three-flavored or stir fried with a choice of Singapore sauce, chilies, yellow curry, black pepper or with vermicelli or celery (almost identical to the options for their mandarin fish). You get to choose between the male (198RMB) or female (258RMB).
More Western-friendly noshing can be found in form of spicy cashew chicken and one of the better pad thais in town (58RMB), a lump of chives, bean sprouts, rice noodles lathered with the token spicy-sweet sauce, and embraced by a tarp-like egg wrap.
But the scene-stealer is the green curry, of which you can choose either vegetable (48RMB), chicken (58RMB), pork (58RMB), beef (68RMB), or seafood (58RMB). The meat or veg is inconsequential, it’s all about the sauce. And at too many Shanghai Thai joints, Home Thai included, the sauce starts out the perfect marriage of sweet and savory, but falls victim to the creeping coconut, which by the end, overpowers the savory. At Toffy, the marriage is consistent from the first spoonful until you lick the last curry skid off the bowl.
But be warned, Toffy’s one of the few Thai places in Shanghai that doesn’t abridge the spiciness for the laowai palate. If a menu item has three cartoon peppers drawn next to it, you better believe it’s three peppers hot.
Soothe the burn with a refreshing dessert like the gratis coconut sago cake (38RMB).
Toffy presents an authentic taste of Thailand in a lavish, but surprisingly non-gaudy Southeast Asian-themed setting (possibly a first for Shanghai). Perhaps the only inauthentic aspect is the European prices, though these aren’t unusual for Shanghai’s Thai spots.
Toffy – 145 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Nanchang Lu, Xuhui district (泰飞唐亚洲精选 徐汇区陕西南路145号, 近南昌路). Tel: (0)21-5450-0950. Hours: 11.30am-11pm daily.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].