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Review: Pai, Toronto


I have a total crush on Chef Nuit Regular.

I first fell in love with Toronto’s favourite Thai Chef a few years ago when she launched Sukothai. She followed up by “killing it” at Khao San Road, then offered a little Laos love at Sabai Sabai. Her most recent venture pays homage to her roots, Northern Thai culinary creations with a nod to the regions small town of Pai.

The restaurant had only been open for a few weeks when I whisked myself into their dining room on Duncan Street. The place was smashed busy (not shocking) and a line up of eager beavers stood waiting to be seated. The interior of Pai showcases an honest Thai aesthetic featuring road signs scribbled in Thai, traditional indigenous wood carvings, art imports, a royal portrait and stacks of the South East Asian countries signature Singha. In front of the kitchen a massive bowl overflowing with ripe mangos had me licking my lips while whimsical spider man swooped in the air above beloved bartender.

Chef Nuit has her own legion of groupies, all of which, just like me, are willing to wait in line for her authentic taste of Thailand. I was happy to see the menu here only features a few of her past dishes, so folks looking to find new inspiration have the opportunity to adventure through a new parade of plates. Chef Nuit classics you can find here include pad thai (well of course) and deep fried squash fritters (that munch and crunch).

Start your feast off with the Papaya Salad (perfect for sharing) which includes cold noodles, shreded cabbage, pork rinds and shrimp chips. Those who like to slurp dinner with their sweetheart (and have a penchant for spicy) will enjoy sharing Tom Yum Kung Mor Fai, a sweet and sour shrimp soup served with steamed rice. Mike and I spent half of our meal wagging our tongues in the air while slugging back cold Sapporo in an attempt to beat the heat. Hearty highlights include Gaeng Kiaw Wan a green curry served inside a cracked coconut and Khao Pad Saprot a stir fry of aromatic jasmine rice muddled with fresh pineapple and egg.

I was so impressed with my feast at Pai it now sits on my Toronto’s Top Restaurant List.

Special thanks to the team at Pai for hosting me as their guest.

The Feast:

Singha + Sapporo

Rum DMC

rum, disaronno, malibu, coke, campari

Amir Johnson

amaretto, whiskey on the rocks, lychee

Summer Dog

vodka, peach schnapps, lychee juice, lime

Beef Salad

grilled beef, lemongrass, min, coriander, kaffir lime leaf, shallot, tangly lime sauce

Papaya Salad

shredded green papaya, tomato, long green beans, garlic, red chili, tamarind juice, fish sauce, coconut, sugar, lime

Tom Yum Kung Mor Fai

savoury, spicy and sour shrimp soup, lemongrass, coriander, green onions and rice

Gaeng Kiaw Wan

fish green curry with bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaf, basil, green pepper, coconut milk served in a coconut

Khao Pad Saparot

stir fried jasmine rice, fresh pineapple, egg, green onion, oyster sauce, served in a pineapple

#546 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010. 

Pai Northern Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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