Ruby Thai - Mapleview Mall

Mall food courts have come such a long way over the years. I remember when I was younger, the most exotic thing you could find in a food court were chicken balls with red sauce. No, that is not exotic, by the way.

Mapleview Mall in Burlington completely redid their food court a little while ago as part of the massive renovation of the entire mall. When the food court was re-opened, they had added huge windows along the whole back wall, booths with padded seats and a few new establishments along with their new fancy sitting area. 

I was really excited to see that Ruby Thai was open because Thai food is probably my favourite type of cuisine, and I was curious how it fared in a mall food court. One of the tricks used at the Mapleview location is they offer you samples as you walk by, and I couldn’t help but be drawn in to try the Thai chicken. The chicken was sweet and juicy – very similar to the bourbon chicken from another food court establishment in many malls, Bourbon Street Grill. It didn’t taste very Thai, but I liked it enough that I thought I’d give it a try.
On one side of the counter, there is a hot table set up behind a glass divider with containers of different items available – typical of many food court establishments. On the other end of the counter, there were large pots of boiling water and broth for noodle soups and dumplings. The menu is based on combinations and the prices vary depending on how many items you want plus your choice of rice, Pad Thai or egg noodles. I went with the two item combo with the egg noodles ($7.59). I wanted to taste the Pad Thai but had a feeling I wouldn’t like it very much, so I asked for a sample of it and was graciously given a small portion free of charge.
For my first side, I chose the Thai Chicken because I liked it when I was offered the sample. The meat is very moist, but it is not all white meat. There are distinct pieces of dark meat and I had a piece that was actually quite fatty. That aside, the flavouring of the sauce (very similar to a teriyaki glaze) was sweet and made the meat juicy and tender. If you don’t mind dark meat, it was an option I enjoyed. My second side was the Bang Bang Shrimp, which were large shrimp deep fried with their shells on and pan-tossed in a salt and pepper flake mixture. The shrimp were dry and I had trouble tasting any flavour at all. Growing up, we ate shrimp with the shells on all the time, but most people may be hesitant and peel it off – which would make it even less flavourful than it already was. Not sure if I would get it again with all the other choices available, but I liked saying Bang Bang Shrimp because I’m super mature and it made me giggle. The egg noodles weren’t anything special and fairly standard of food court Chinese egg noodles. Pan fried with a small amount of scrambled egg, shredded carrot and bean sprouts, the only flavour that I could taste was muted soy sauce. The good thing about them was that they weren’t greasy as some places might make them, and the noodles were cooked to perfection. I tossed it with a package of hot sauce and it tasted much better once it had some flavour. As for the Pad Thai that I wanted to sample, I am glad that I went with my gut and knew that I wouldn’t like it very much. They tasted like flat rice noodles tossed in a mixture of ketchup and the red sauce you get from Chinese places to pour over your chicken balls. It was overly sweet with a hint of sour, and had no other flavour to help it out. The noodles were greasy and aside from using rice noodles, I honestly have no idea what made this a Pad Thai. 

When I went to pay I spontaneously ordered a spring roll ($1.89) to round out my order because some part of me obviously felt like there wasn’t enough grease on my plate already. The spring roll itself was piping hot and the wrapper was crispy and light. Unfortunately, it was extremely greasy and seeped into the filling. The filling had bean sprouts and mushroom and I’m not sure what else, but it was pretty forgettable. The dipping sauce was a sweet chilli sauce that aside from being runny, was actually pretty good. It was the only thing that enabled me to finish the spring roll, or else I most likely would have tossed it.

My initial excitement at having a Thai establishment in the food court has quickly deflated after eating at Ruby Thai. From what I tried, there was nothing distinctly Thai in the offerings and it really wasn’t much different than going to any of the original Chinese places that have been around for years. For the price you’re paying, it’s certainly not the cheapest meal at the mall – but I would much rather pay a couple dollars more and get something more authentic and tasty outside the food court.


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