"Kin khao rue yang?" a greeting common in Bangkok means: "have you eaten?" Sit in Bangkok, Toronto's newest Thai restaurant, poses a contemporary spin to this query. "The old style is not our style," owner and hostess Sutthilak tells me, adding that if we were to travel to Bangkok today this is the kind of restaurant we would see. Although there are no golden Buddhas or traditional ornamentation, the menu is full of all the dishes and ingredients that any Thai food lover would expect.
Thai spices waft from the kitchen, while mellifluous sounds of Thai resonate between restaurant staff. The space is intimate, accommodating up to fifty people (forty in the dining lounge and ten on the patio). The dÃ©cor features aubergine walls and panoramic photos of Bangkok. Well lit bistro tables and a fully stocked bar create an allure similar to any hip spot in Toronto-minus the pretentiousness. Nevertheless, daily take-out and delivery service is offered during all hours of operation.
Sutthilak came to Toronto to study small business and entrepreneurship at George Brown College. While there she met the man who would later become her husband. Together, with their friend and chef, Pichit, they decided to open a restaurant here in Toronto to present their love of Thai cuisine in a modern style that can be found in Bangkok today. "We all speak the same language," says Sutthilak, referring to the love of good food shared with the young urbanites and families that frequent this west College St. location.
Traditional dishes like Tom Yum Soup, made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, is both wonderfully spiced and uplifting. Pichit adds a touch of milk to soften the seasonings and cut the sharpness. Bangkok Pad Thai, with plump tiger shrimp, is another perennial favourite that tastes more authentic then the readily available "western version" that often features the addition of ketchup to the sauce.
Freshness follows each dish stemming from a joy of cooking and a pride in tradition. Some of the ingredients, like the curries, are imported directly from Thailand, and while no item is too spicy, Pichit informs with a smile, "you can get it spicier."
Our server is quick and attentive, furthering an "at ease" sensation. The vast menu selection includes dishes not commonly found in other Toronto Thai restaurants. The chef's recommendation, this time round, is the Northern Thai specialty, Nam Prik Ong. This sweet concoction of ground chicken mixed with Thai seasoning, tomatoes and onion, comes with steamed vegetables and delicate shrimp chips. Fresh flavour, and generous potions abound; yet, not over power the experience and we still have room for dessert. For the daring, one scoop of deep fried ice cream is, at the very least, a conversation piece. Coconut, mango, or green tea ice cream is flash fried at 180 degrees, and served immediately with a slice of orange, cherries, cashews, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Whether sipping on a cocktail glass of sweet Thai ice tea from the bar, or indulging in a panoply of exotic flavours from the kitchen, these friendly and enthusiastic new restaurateurs welcome you to relax while you sit in Bangkok.