Dinner @ Pai Northern Thai Kitchen (Entertainment District / Downtown Toronto)

I have come to the realization that I know very little about Thai cuisine. Only recently did I begin to read about Thai cuisine and about how dishes are ‘supposed” to taste like. For example, pad Thai is not supposed to be pink! And it is not supposed to taste like tomato – and certainly not ketchup! Have I really been living under a rock all these years? Wow.

So, having a bit more knowledge on the subject, I decided to check-out Pai, a Thai restaurant currently getting a lot of media attention. Though I really don’t think anyone is surprised since Nuit and Jeff Regular, the owners of Pai, are also the team behind Sabai Sabai and Sukhothai (they were also heavily involved with Khao San Road – a hugely popular restaurant in Toronto until 2013). I have yet to visit Khao San Road, Sabai Sabai and Sukhothai, but believe me, a visit is in the works.

Let me tell you what I thought of my experience at Pai…

What I LOVED

  • They take reservations!
  • The prices are reasonable – every main is under $20
  • The portions are good – even took some to go for lunch the next day
  • The staff was friendly and service was efficient
  • The music was awesome! We all agreed that if they had the music for sale, we would all have purchased it
  • They do separate bills
  • They are accommodating when it comes to allergies or when you want an ingredient omitted. For example, I hate onions so I did not want onions in my food, one guest has a gluten intolerance so she has to stay away from food that contains or touches gluten, and a second guest was allergic to shellfish – the three of us were able to enjoy a delicious dinner with the items we cannot have omitted from our dishes

And the best part…

  • The food was fricking delicious! As in ridiculously good!

I ordered the Chef Nuit Pad Thai ($14) sans onions with chicken and holy hell, I don’t know what crap I had been eating before, but whatever it was, I could never eat it again. This Pad Thai was made with fried rice noodles, home-made tamarind sauce, beansprouts, tofu, egg, chives, Thai coriander, fresh lime and home roasted peanuts. I think I am going to have to figure out how to make the tamarind sauce so that I could slather it on everything! Put it on my toast? Sure! At one point I turned to my neighbor and offered her some. First she said she only wanted a small bite, and then she asked for a second, and finally she called our waitress over and asked for an order of the Pad Thai to go.

Other items that were ordered, and loved, were:

Khao Soi $14
Fresh egg noodles in a golden curry topped with crispy noodles, coriander, green onions and braised beef

Gaeng Kiaw Wan (in a coconut) $16
Green Curry with bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, green peppers, coconut milk and chicken. Served in a coconut!

Grabong $10
Vegetarian deep fried battered squash fritters with a garlic tamarind dip

Spring Rolls $7
Deep fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls filled with mushrooms, glass noodles, carrots and sprouts

Sai Ua Platter
(Northern Thai Sausage) $14
Grilled pork belly sausages with fresh tumeric, kafir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic and shallots served with sticky rice and a northern Thai relish

What I did NOT love so much

  • Beer options are limited and not very good. Not a single IPA on the menu
  • The seats are not very comfortable and when you sit down it feels like the chair may break
  • The space can get crowded and loud – though I noticed that the chairs in the main dining area (we were seated in a more private part of the restaurant to the left), were sturdier looking. 🙂
  • When sitting with a large group, as I was, it felt like we were almost sitting on each other’s laps
  • My guests complained about the spice levels being off. Specifically, several of my guests wanted their food super spicy and ordered the Farang Spicy (foreigner spicy), and did not find it spicy at all

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Pai, and after experiencing what real Thai food should taste like, I am eagerly anticipating my next Thai food adventure. Now I just have to decide which of these restaurants I should check out next: Khao San Road, Sabai Sabai or Sukhothai?

Pai Northern Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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