SABAI SABAI

Sabai Sabai

With a tapas style menu developed by Chef Nuit (Khao San Road and Pai Northern), a cozy decor and spiked Thai Iced Tea on the menu, Sabai Sabai had all the ingredients for a great meal. My best friend and I stopped by on a chilly night before catching Hamlet at the Winter Theatre. We didn’t make reservations but arrived as doors opened and were able to get a table.

Atmosphere: Tucked away on Church street, Sabai Sabai was a casual, comfortable restaurant with dim lighting and tightly knit tables. A large bar dominated the front of the restaurant, across a wall of booth seats. There were only a few tables that could accompany big groups and most were reserved.

Service: My one issue was how small the table for two was. At one point, we were trying to fit 3 dishes, a bowl of rice, two drinks, water glasses and plates to eat off of. It was Tetris on hard mode and we already had to finish off our appetizer quickly to make room. Our server was helpful and clearly ran into this challenge regularly as she was prepared by moving the centrepiece and clearing empty dishes with speed. She was also friendly, and knowledgeable of the menu. Each dish arrived quickly with our “mains” together.

Food: If Chef Nuit’s squash fritters are on the menu, I can’t say no to them. Sabai Sabai’s rendition did not disappoint. We started with a plate of the crispy, deep fried goodness while I sipped a Thai Iced Tea. My friend opted for the rum spiked version, Sailor’s Delight, which was a great addition. I would’ve ordered the same, if I wasn’t worried about sleeping through the first act of Hamlet (I still dozed off…a bit).

To share, we ordered Fish Penang Curry, Eggplant Stir Fry and Lao Minced Pork Salad. The curry was rich, grainy and the fish fillets tender. There was more flavour than heat. A few more chilis would have made the curry even better for me. The eggplant stir fry was heavy with Thai basil and each medallion cooked until soft, a tasty vegetarian option. For both these dishes, I only wished there was more. My favourite menu item was the salad, that was served more like a lettuce wrap. The filling was full of fresh herbs, lime juice and just a kick of flavour with each bite. I liked the pairing with the crisp, clean taste of iceberg lettuce, which highlighted the seasoning of the ground pork even more so.

Dessert changes by the week and that night it was an egg custard on sticky rice. I had my heart set on mango sticky rice, so the custard didn’t quite hit the spot. It had a soft, airy, tofu life texture and was lightly sweet. Tasty, but not mango.

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