Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sabai Sabai

Being a huge supporter of Khao San Road, I knew it was only a matter of time that I would make my way to Sabai Sabai Kitchen and Bar (Twitter: @sabaisabaito, Facebook: Sabai Sabai Kitchen and Bar). Nuit and Jeff Regular, formerly of Khao San Road, parted ways with the restaurant early last year to open Sabai Sabai on 225 Church Street in November. Teaming up with the couple is Jason Jiang and Seng Luong, who became friends with the Regulars after being regulars (ha!) at Sukhothai's original location on Parliament (Nuit and Jeff continues to operate the two Sukhothai locations).

I really like the decor at Sabai Sabai. With colourful paper lanterns hung up high and vintage artwork on the walls, the space feels roomy, bright and festive.

I had dinner with my friends Carmen (@carmenhungry) and Grace (@foodinthecityTO) that evening. I ordered a lychee slushie ('cause I always prefer booze) and it was everything I hoped for: cold, refreshing, slush with a sweet taste of lychee and Soho (the Soho came through a lot more compared to the Vodka and Limoncello). It was wonderful.

Thai iced coffee ($4), Thai iced tea ($4)
Lychee Slushie - 3 oz (Vodka, Soho, Limoncello), lychee ($10)

Sabai Sabai's menu items are all meant to be shared so we ordered eight dishes followed by dessert:

Crispy shrimp chips with tamarind dip ($4)

Tom ka soup with coconut milk and shrimp ($7)

Deep fried freshly grated squash fritters ($7)

Crispy deep fried taro roll ($9)

Crispy fish with homemade sweet & tangy tamarind reduction ($8)

Khao soi, egg noodles in coconut curry gravy with beef ($9)

Northern Thai curry fish custard steamed in banana leaf ($8)

Grilled northern Thai skewers with spicy nam chim dip ($8)

Mango sticky rice ($5)

This was an awesome meal. I'm really diggin' the tapas style northern Thai plates at Sabai Sabai. The meal started with a big basket of shrimp chips. For $4 it was a lot more than I expected! Because there were seven more dishes on the horizon, I was careful not to eat too much (this took a lot of control). The tom ka soup with plump shrimps was one of my favourite dishes that was spicy yet soothing with a hint of coconut taste. Really good. Next, nicely stacked on a bamboo plate were hot squash fritters. Crispy on the outside with a soft interior, these were the best I've ever had. I prefer these squash fritters over the ones from Khao San Road. The fritters there were often haphazardly piled really high on a plate with individual fritters "linked" together with batter. Likewise, I also prefer the khaoi soi at Sabai Sabai. It wasn't the thin egg noodles nor the tender beef that made the difference, it was the consistency of the broth. The khao soi's curry coconut broth was a bit too thick the last couple of times at Khao San RoadThe broth here had a perfect consistency for me. Not too thick or thin.

In terms of texture, the two fish dishes we ordered couldn't be more different. The fillets topped with tamarind had a super crunchy coating while the curry fish custard was soft and smooth. My absolute favourite dish of the evening had to be the pork skewers though. After my first bite, I became wide-eyed and literally made orgasmic noises as I continued eating it. These skewers were unbelievably meaty, tender, juicy and smoky all at the same time. It was like pork heaven on a stick. After all that food we finished our meal with mango sticky rice. Wow. Fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk then topped with mango, this dessert was irresistible. We couldn't stop eating it although we were all supposedly "really full".

Sabai Sabai on Urbanspoon