Mon Thong Thai Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

Terry, Hilarie and I had a Thai lunch at Mon Thong on Friday the 13th (of June), a remarkably lucky day in our eyes! We had a phenomenal meal. We met owners Joe and Sunee Karunyasopon who opened the first Thai restaurant in the Okanagan in 1990. Now with 3 locations in the city (including Orchard Plaza and Landmark 5), their newest restaurant opened May 2013 on Ellis Street.

Their nephew, Karun (aka “New”) Boonsrirode is manager/part owner. Each time I’ve dined there, I see New fully engaged in creating an absolutely perfect dining experience for every guest. With great coordination among his staff team, New ensures prompt attention and exemplary service.

Left to right: Joe, sunee, Annie, Hilarie, Terry, New

Joe and Sunee have also set up restaurants in Vernon and Penticton in the past, which have since been sold to other families. Very much a family-oriented business, Joe and Sunee oversee and train Mon Thong staff so that the same high quality recipes and ambience continue to provide authentic Thai cuisine and culture as part of the Okanagan experience.

I asked them what was their original inspiration. Without hesitation, Joe smiled: “My wife’s cooking!” Everything she made was so delicious, he wanted to share it with the community and provide a legacy for his extended family.

The name “Mon Thong” refers to the most prized Durian fruit, also called the ‘golden pillow’. It implies a rich and comfortable experience that the restaurant aims to provide. From the first time I walked into Mon Thong, I was very impressed by the décor.

It has 3 separate areas, including a full bar.

There is a large area with 2 big booths at the front of the restaurant.

There’s a series of more private booths and comfortable seating (including golden pillows) towards the back of the restaurant.

There are beautiful details everywhere that fuse traditional Thai imagery with modern elegance. The interior designer was a frequent Mon Thong customer! This is one of the best restaurant designs that I have ever seen.

There was a gentle poem on the cover of the menu which set a peaceful mood.

We started off the meal with Appetizer Combination B which includes Por Pia Tod (spring rolls with sweet plum sauce), Thai Chicken Satay (marinated chicken with Thai peanut sauce), Tod Mun (spicy deep-fried chicken patties), Shrimp Wraps (deep-fried shrimp wrapped in rice paper) and cucumber salad.

Hilarie announced that the peanut sauce was one of the best she had ever tasted. It was thick, creamy and wholesome-tasting. The chicken was soft and tender. Our spring rolls contained meat, but vegetarian and vegan options are available. The vinaigrette on the cucumber salad was sweet, light and refreshing. We were also brought a bowl of in-house recipe hot sauce which had a deep smoky flavour followed by a spicy-nice heat on the tongue. The chicken patty was peppery and Terry’s favourite. We all gave high marks for the shrimp wraps which were juicy and succulent inside, contrasting the crispy outside.

Next, we had the Yum Nuea, a Thai-style spicy beef salad. The presentation was visually exquisite with bright, fresh-garden colours.

The beef was abundant and tender, playing a melody of flavours that altered as I chewed. There was a slight spice-kick at the back of the throat. This dish raised the bar beyond standard salad greens by adding mint, cilantro, tomato, carrot, spring and red onions. The salad had a delectable range of texture and was such a surprising winning combination of ingredients. With excellent protein-carb balance, I could eat this guilt-free salad for lunch on a regular basis!

Now, for the main event.

We had Tom Kha Gai, a popular Thai coconut milk soup with chicken and lemongrass.

It was aromatic with full-bodied flavour. It wasn’t thick nor watery; yet it was both rich and light. I loved the mushrooms in it. Terry liked that the onions maintained a crispy texture. Hilarie was thrilled to discover slices of galangal (similar to ginger, but milder and considered upscale). She could really taste the kaffir lime/lemongrass, and said the soup was like dessert!

One of our main dishes was the Gaeng Mas-Sa-Man, with chicken, crushed peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes and coconut milk.

The unexpected chunks of potato and tomato provided intermittent reprieve from the 2-chili spice-rating of this delicious mixture of both yellow and red curry. With lots of thick slices of chicken and an assortment of vegetables accompanied by rice, the curry is made tame enough for someone like me who is easily scared off by chili symbols on a menu. We gave this dish high marks for unique curry flavour and ingredients.

Lastly, we had Pad Thai. It was easy to see why it’s the most popular of all Thai dishes.

With big chunks of tofu and plump shrimp, this dish was fun to eat and a gift for the sweet tooth. Bean sprouts and crushed peanuts added crunch to the otherwise soft and sticky noodles, light and fluffy tofu, and tender shrimp.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

Everything at Mon Thong is prepared with fresh ingredients and cooked to order — even the soup and appetizers. They happily accommodate allergies and special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan. Thai is a unique cuisine and may be an acquired taste to some; but of all the Thai food I’ve had so far, I have to say that Mon Thong has the highest quality and best taste.


The gracious hosts made us feel special and valued with friendly and considerate attention from the moment we entered. The service was exemplary and our expectations were exceeded. Food was brought promptly. We were immediately provided with cutlery and chopsticks, water and tea. Any questions about the food were quickly answered, and we were given the right amount of attention exactly when needed.


Spacious, light and airy, the décor lends itself to a pleasant visual experience. The seating is very comfortable, and the lighting was perfect: bright enough to see your food, but soft enough to be gentle on the eyes. Artistic accents are a visual feast. Subtle details like textured vases and white elephants create a happy atmosphere. The 3 sections and varied seating arrangements offer plenty of options to suit any personality or occasion. The restaurant can accommodate large parties (reservations are recommended).


The restaurant was impeccably clean and tidy. I could not fault it. Every time I have been to Mon Thong, I’ve been impressed by the consistently high standard for cleanliness, unmatched by any other place I’ve ever been. The washrooms are among the cleanest I have ever seen at a restaurant.

Value for money

Our meal could have happily satisfied 4 people at a reasonable price. Mon Thong has special lunch menus starting at $8.50 and dinner entrées starting at $12.95. Combined with excellent service and high quality standards, we felt this was great value.


Hilarie and I have been to Mon Thong on several occasions and can confidently rely on having an excellent experience every time. The setting is adaptable for both casual and formal occasions, with culinary options to suit just about any palate. Mon Thong is a super-central, perfect downtown location gathering place for friends to enjoy a meal, drinks and conversation in a pleasant and comfortable environment with delicious food that is guaranteed to please.

Go to this award-winning restaurant once, and you’re bound to return again and again!


Momo Sushi Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4 star - superb

Thanks to Momo Sushi in Kelowna, I think I’m addicted to Japanese food.

I first tried sushi a few years ago and was very slow to warm up to it. Recently seeking a simple take-out, I risked popping into Momo Sushi. Unsure of what to try, the waitress was so friendly and helpful, offering suggestions and bringing a complimentary tea to make me feel right at home. I stuck with a safe bet, BBQ Chicken Donburi (which also came with miso soup). It was delicious.

A week later, 2 sushi connoisseur friends — 1 of which was already a well-established fan of Momo’s — suggested we go there for lunch.

We each selected different Maki Sushi Rolls so that we could swap and try off each other’s plates. Pam chose the Spicy Scallop Roll (below, bottom) and the Crispy Crispy Roll (below, top) which contains shrimp and yam tempura, crab meat and cucumber.

Hilarie picked the Spicy Tuna Roll (yes, the tuna is raw).

She also got the California Roll (which includes crab meat, avocado, cucumber and sesame seeds).

I went a bit safe with the Chicken Teriyaki Roll (below, bottom). It turned out that I was more keen on the raw tuna and raw scallop! I also ordered the Ebi Ebi Roll (below, top) which contains shrimp tempura. Now that was really a nice light crunch mixed in with perfect texture of rice and just the right amount of sauce for added flavour.

They were all absolutely fantastic. So yummy, in fact, that just a few days later Hilarie and I went back for more! We had the gyoza.

She got a repeat order of the Spicy Tuna Roll (below, top) because it was just that good. I asked for a half order of prawn tempura which was delightfully delicate. The Spicy Vege Roll (below, bottom) intrigued me with its description: yam tempura and deep fried tofu, fine cut vegetables and chunks of fresh avocado. It was surprisingly complete considering it was vege-based. I highly recommend it!

As I get more daring, I hope I’ll one day get up the nerve to try their Ogopogo Dragon Roll. It contains BBQ eel!

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were all very fresh tasting. The tempura and gyoza were served hot. (The chocolate mint patties at the end were a nice touch, too!)


I was very impressed when I was treated with so much attention on my first newbie take-out visit. I was treated as honourably as any long-time, high-tipping customer. That wins huge points with me! On subsequent visits, even when they were busy, service was prompt and friendly. The staff seem to love their jobs and believe in their menu. The service is quick, friendly and beyond what I expected.


This place gets busy, but its layout is set up with subtle partitions and this seems to keep the volume down. It’s a small place, but it has enough space and is laid out efficiently.


The restaurant was clean and tidy.

Value for money

The price of Maki Sushi Rolls averaged between $5.25 and $5.75, and you’ll probably want 2 orders per person. Count on approximately $12 per person (without tax or tip). It seems that this is on par with middle-of-the-road sushi places, but I’d say that Momo Sushi could be of a higher standard than others.


After 3 tries (take-out, lunch and dinner) I can say that Momo Sushi satisifies beyond expectation on all counts. I am confident to recommend this restaurant because everything I tried tasted great, and the service was excellent. I’m sure I’ll go back many times, and take others with me.

Even if you’re not a fan of sushi, I’m pretty sure (like me) you could be, after trying Momo Sushi!


SS Korean Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 2-5 star - nice

For two years, I have walked past the SS Korean Restaurant many times. Very close to Okanagan Lake, it’s located at 280 Bernard Avenue. The food pictures plastered on the huge windows always attracted me; yet whenever I peered in, the place looked empty and intimidating to enter on my own.

Deciding on a lunch venue today, my friend Hilarie and I noticed a sign offering a wide choice of lunch deals for $6.95. Entering, we were hit by the vast emptiness for 12:15 p.m. on a Friday in downtown Kelowna.

We decided to give it a chance. I spotted a table with this fan and cute wooden ducks above it, so we sat there.

We admired the carved wooden chairs. They had a high back and were quite comfortable. Each table setting had chopsticks and a medium-sized spoon at the ready.

While helpful in the practical sense of describing the lunch dishes complete with laminated eight-by-tens, the young waitress was not particularly friendly or welcoming. However, the food did arrive promptly. We asked her to take our photo with the lovely wall ornaments.

The portions were large. Hilarie had the Bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish of rice topped with sautéed vegetables and a fried egg. The egg was very runny and she was not able to eat it. Used to having this dish spiced, the chilli sauce was provided on the side. I noticed Hilarie adding dollops of sauce frequently throughout the meal. It was otherwise too bland for her tastebuds. There was kimchee on the side: fermented vegetables spiced to expectation.

I tried the Pork Donburi which is actually a Japanese dish. (There were quite a few Japanese items on the full menu.) The meat and vegetables were simmered with soy sauce (and other sweet-tasting ingredients) poured over rice. There was a lot of thinly sliced meat that was succulent and tasty. I was impressed by the large portion for the lunch menu price.

Towards the end of our visit, 2 tables for 2 became occupied. Still, it was a very slow crowd considering its optimum location, time of day, and day of the week.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were of a good standard. We deemed it to be a healthier lunch than many other local options. The food was freshly cooked and served hot.


While we were served quickly, this would be expected as the only customers in a relatively large restaurant. It may have just been our particular waitress, or the type of day she was having, but let’s just say she didn’t appear to be enthusiastic about her job.

Ours was a leisurely, chat-over-lunch style of visit. In our experience, it is customary and cordial to ask if customers want dessert, coffee or anything else. If the answer is no, then to provide the bill and assure the patron that there is no rush to pay. With so few in the restaurant, we’d think they’d want to hang onto any and all customers for as long as possible, if only for appearance’s sake to the passersby.

But not so on this occasion. Almost immediately after I took my last bite, the waitress asked us only if we wanted the bill separate or together. She brought the credit card machine to our table long before we were ready to leave. She stood at our table waiting, making it imperative for us to dig through our purses immediately. Hilarie wanted to pay cash. Feeling awkward about requiring some change, she felt pressured to pay by card, too, to make it easier for the waitress. We both felt uncomfortable about this.


The wall decor was interestingly quirky, and we loved the chairs. There were gumball machines in the entrance-way. It was a throwback to childhood, but I was curious how long the gum may have been in there considering the slow traffic. The wide open plan emphasizes the emptiness and I suspect is intimidating to others who might otherwise be curious to dine there, too. Some booths or dividers, even floor plants, might diguise the empty echo, creating a more cosy, welcoming feel.


The restaurant was reasonably clean and tidy.

Value for money

We each paid $6.95 for our meals. This was excellent value for money considering it was a hot, sit-down meal for less than the price of a take-out deli sandwich. Healthier, too.


For a quick, cheap and filling, relatively healthy lunch, I recommend SS Korean Restaurant. Based on the food alone, I’d score my dish 3.5 stars. (Hilarie would have given her’s a lower score.) The overall score was brought down to 2.5 stars based on service and ambiance, which was fair but far from impressive.

It is also disappointing that this restaurant does not appear to have its own website (at least not one I could find through Google). I like to learn about a restaurant and see the menu choices and prices before I may be tempted to dine there again.

The main menu is quite large with many options averaging around $19.99 a dish. Although I am not qualified to comment on dinner here, based on my lunch experience I would not likely take the risk of those prices. While the food quality is fair, the ambience and service was lacking. I am open to changing my mind if invited as a guest — but I’m not willing to pay those prices for it. I’ll definitely go back for lunch, though.

Saigon Restaurant in Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

From the outside, Saigon Restaurant on Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna seems modest and inconspicuous. However, this small restaurant can surprisingly accommodate many people. It has five beautifully decorated mother-of-pearl artworks gracing the walls with mesmerizing detail that is worth examining closely.

Manager Ching Li (pictured below, centre) has operated the restaurant for 20 years.

Saigon Restaurant boasts two cuisine menus: Vietnamese and Chinese totalling nearly 200 choices. It took Darius and I quite some time to decide because he has quite a few food allergies, but after chatting with Ching for advice, we narrowed it down.

We had the Vietnamese Salad Rolls as an appetizer. Normally, these come with shrimp and pork. Due to allergies, the shrimp was eliminated and made with extra pork. They were impressively light-tasting. The accompanying peanut sauce was homemade with a deliciously mysterious, almond-like secret ingredient that was practically drinkable.

Next was a piping hot dish of Shredded Pork and Tofu in Szechuan Style Fish Flavoured Spicy Sauce. It was love at first bite: an awesome, you-must-try-it dining experience. The spice was at first mild on the tongue, but then thrilled the back of the palate. The tender pork was in bite-sized morsels, and mushrooms were quartered, making it very practical to eat with chopsticks. The tofu had good texture that I’m certain even non-tofu lovers would enjoy. We gave this dish top marks. In fact, Darius said he would return to Kelowna, purely to eat that dish again.

The Sizzling Beef with Onion and Green Pepper was also a big hit with Darius. He’s not normally a fan of black bean sauce like I am. Unlike most, this homemade sauce was not salty or overpowering, but a light, savoury, smoky complement to the substantial slices of beef cooked to perfection. The ingredients were simple, yet it was effectively tasty. (The steamed rice was just right, too.)

Last but not least, we had to try the Buddhist Vegetables (without the corn, due to allergies). The highlight of this dish were the large, meaty Chinese mushrooms. The bean sprouts and sugar snap peas were timed perfectly, retaining their fresh, delicate crunch.

We were pleased with our fortune cookie messages at the end of our meal. Darius’s read: “Right now there’s an energy pushing you in a new direction” — just as he heads back to Vancouver this week. Mine was: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” — I’d had a rather emotional morning, and this meal was definitely turning around my day!

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The meats were cooked to just the right tenderness. All of the vegetables tasted garden fresh. The portions were ample and could have easily fed 4 people well. Unable to leave a morsel behind, we came away with a huge doggy-bag. Perhaps the key to the success of this dining experience lies in all of the homemade sauces they prepare. Saigon Restaurant has their own unique recipes for satay, black bean, peanut, and fish sauces.


We were greeted by the waitress as soon as we entered the door, and invited to choose any table that suited us. We barely sat down and already a large pot of fresh Jasmine Tea was brought to us. The food was served very quickly, piping hot. (You can see the steam still floating from them in my pictures.) We were asked how we wanted it served in terms of timing. This was a thoughtful consideration, as we wanted it all to arrive at the same time.


Lunch and dinner times are typically busy, so we arrived after 2:30 p.m. for a quiet meal. The restaurant is divided into two areas, one being more private. Somehow, the sound does not travel and even during busy times it is not as loud as many restaurants are. Mirrors on the upper part of the walls reflect the decor and give it a more spacious feeling. The lighting is mellow and there are ornamental plants which make the place feel cosy.


The restaurant was clean and tidy.

Value for money

The price of this meal was $48 (not including tax or tip). Considering this would have fed 4 people with a high quality cuisine, we found this was of exceedingly great value. Saigon Restaurant also has a popular lunch special on weekdays.


I regularly get my favourite Chinese take out from here, Singapore Style Fried Vermicelli, which is always reliably perfect. This was the first time I explored new dishes during a sit-down meal at the Saigon Restaurant. The biggest risk we took was the Shredded Pork and Tofu in Szechuan Style Fish Flavoured Spicy Sauce, uncertain of whether we’d like any of those ingredients. It turned out to be our very favourite, which we will now highly recommend to everyone. This dining experience taught me to trust that pretty much any menu choice at the Saigon Restaurant would be a good one.

If you’re in Kelowna, you must give Saigon Restaurant a try. I am certain you’ll be delighted!