Sabai Sabai, which translates roughly as “peace, tranquility, and a sense of well being”, is the name of the new Northern Thai tapas-inspired restaurant by former Khao San Road founders. The venue, open for a year now, is located in the Garden District of Toronto and offers some of the best spoon-full Thai flavours this city has to offer.
A kitchen and bar is what best describes the ambiance of this place. The staff welcome guests with a friendly smile and food comes and goes in well plated dishes that just water your mouth as they pass. Sabai Sabai caters to the Church street community, but one look inside and you immediately see a melange of university students, followed by couples on a first date, next to a party of five baby boomers that just came by for a bite after a theater play. It really is a mix of people that have clearly just landed at Sabai Sabai for its food and drinks.
Speaking of drinks, one can not leave without having the Thai Mojito.
Dark Sailor Jerry rum, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, mint and coconut sugar syrup are mixed in a sauce jar and smoothly poured over ice. The drink itself is refreshing and has the perfect notes of sweet and sour one expects.
The food on the other hand is nice and spicy, and the flavours blend like a symphony in one’s mouth. To start, the Crispy Shrimp Chips are the perfect appetite opener and drink pairing. These chips are different and taste almost like rice chips with paprika. The kicker here really is the sauce. The tamarind sauce is tart and has a sweet bite to it, bringing the taste of the chips to a new dimension.
From the list of tapas, the one that caught my eye was the Crispy Fried Taro roll. I enjoyed this dish the most as it reminded me of yams back home. Taro is a perennial, tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible starchy corm, and as a leaf vegetable. The roll itself is filled by what seems to be a mashed mixture of the taro plant itself with some ground pork and spices.
On the more American side, the Grilled Chicken Wings were my second favourite of the night and probably the most finger-licking dish in the house. The wings were perfectly cooked, with crispy and mildly burnt skins, dressed in a house marinade and topped with my favourite ingredient – cilantro.
One dish I was not a fan of but heard very positive reviews from Asian peers is the Northern Thai Curry Fish Custard in Banana Leaf. Quite the long name for a dish this tiny, but certainly worth the try. I remember specifically liking the creamy and spicy sauces at the top, the mousse on the other hand had me in two-minds about it.
The night ended with my favourite and most popular Thai dish – the Shrimp Housemade Panang Curry. A delectable curry mix of spices with notes of chili peppers, coriander, lemongrass, garlic and peanuts. The perfect way to end a Northern Thai feast.
Until next time Foodies!
Venue: Sabai Sabai
Specialty: Thai Tapas
Location: 225 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario
Menu items: Crispy Fried Taro Roll, Crispy Shrimp Chips with Tamarind Dip, Housemade Panang Curry, Norther Thai Curry Fish Custard and Grilled Chicken Wings