Pai Northern Thai Kitchen for lunch (Toronto)

Ask Torontonians where to get good Thai food and Pai will likely be part of their response. The restaurant has been overwhelmingly successful; since its launch three years ago, lines during lunch and after work are still common. Your chance at securing a meal is higher during lunch since they take reservations and there’s a Pai Market offering quick grab-and-go options. During our recent lunch time visit, at least half the people waiting at the door at 11:30am made their way into the Market.

If you have the time, dining on site is preferable – you get to eat everything at its peak! The Thai style chicken wings ($5.50) are fantastic when hot, it’s slightly crispy skin already abuzz with lemongrass and chilli flavours. The light sweet and spicy tamarind dipping sauce helps cool it down, it’ll save your mouth before the first bite.

Thankfully, Pai cuts their spring rolls ($8) in half to let out the steam. The wispy crunchy rice paper is filled with glass noodles mixed with mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts. I’d like a bit more vegetables in it, but otherwise they’re decent and seems to be the go-to starter for every table.

Although there is a spiciness scale listed on their menu, when ordering curry dishes they already incorporate a standard heat and you’re given chili oil to augment, if necessary. Their Panang beef curry ($13) is much thicker than the green curry I’ve had in the past and even without the chili oil has an abundance of flavours: salty with a hint of sourness and even a slight nuttiness. There’s that mix of tastes that’s synonymous with Thai food. The beef slices are thankfully not overly dry and there’s a healthy portion of meat mixed into the vegetables.

If you arrive before noon, the food arrives at a controlled but quick pace, making Pai a good option for lunch in about an hour. Moreover, their lunch menu includes most of the popular dishes from dinner at a couple dollars less (the portion sizes seem equal in size). If you ask me where there’s good Thai food in Toronto, I’d suggest Pai. Just head to this well celebrated restaurant at lunch to avoid a long wait.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 18 Duncan Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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