Sabai Thai Eatery
Address: 1113 Corydon Ave.
In a city filled with numerous ethnic restaurants, choosing where to eat can become a game of discernment. The opening of Sabai Thai Eatery last October, helps make the decision easier. Chef Kham Vilay, son of Noy Vilay of long-standing Magic Thailand, brings his own brand of alchemy to the kitchen.
Soft colours and lighting, along with contemporary booths reflect the chef’s approach to food in the kitchen—a modern take on the traditional. In fact, sabai is the Thai word for comfort, and the bistro vibe is a comfortable match for this Crescentwood neighbourhood.
Classic Thai appetizers start the meal with a bang. The broth of a small green curry soup is rich with coconut and comes loaded with chunks of chicken and broccoli.
Summer rolls offer refreshing bite. Raw organic frisée, arugula and baby romaine lettuce, along with rice noodles are stuffed into a soft rice paper wrapper. By contrast, hot and fried crispy spring rolls are filled with silver noodles, shredded taro and vegetables. They proved too addictive to stop at just one. A gently spiced house-made peanut dipping sauce accompanies both appetizers.
The mango salad looks similar to coleslaw, but here crispy shredded vegetables and sweet green mango, are brought together with a sour and spicy dressing of lime and chiles. Chopped cashews add crunch and sweetness.
Following the recession of World War II, noodles were adopted as a staple in Thai cuisine. This is reflected in Sabai Thai’s menu, where a variety of noodles are showcased. The Chiang Mai version is a combination of vermicelli, soft tofu and crunchy deep-fried egg noodles bathed in a yellow curry and roasted chile jam sauce. It offers bite without burning.
Drunken noodles are apparently named for their healing ability after a night of over-indulging on spirits. Vibrant green pieces of Chinese broccoli are crisp, contrasting with tender pieces of beef and broad rice noodles. Strips of basil add bright flavour.
Chef Kham offers a distinct regional take on Thai cuisine, with pan-fried pickerel cheeks. Served with flash-cooked watercress, the delicate morsels float in a bright peanut and sesame sauce.
Matsaman coconut curry with eggplant and tofu is one of numerous vegetarian options. Unlike typical red and green Thai curries, it has a mix of Malay, Indian, and Middle-Eastern flavours with ingredients like cumin, roasted coriander seed and sliced galangal, a root with a pine-like and citrus taste. A bowl of fragrant jasmine rice is a must for soaking up all the sauces.
Finish with sweet fried bananas for dessert. The fruit is encased in spring roll wrappers, deep fried and served warm. It comes with a scoop of coconut vanilla ice cream, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with slivered almonds.