Introducing: Soi Thai, a bit of Bangkok in Little Italy
Name: Soi Thai
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Contact: 651 College St. W., @soithaito
Previously: Darwin Bistro
Owners: Nopphawan Lertchaiprasert Papa and Pablito Papa
Chef: Nopphawan Lertchaiprasert Papa
The Food: Traditional Thai street snacks: elaborate golden-fried omelettes, pork and chicken skewers and crispy, spiced chicken wings are just a few of the sharing plates on offer. Nopphawan, a self-taught chef, tasted her way through Bangkok’s culinary scene, but when she moved to Toronto five years ago she struggled to find a Thai restaurant that offered the authentic no-frills, street-cuisine experience. (“One that allows you to eat all day, which is the Thai way,” she said.) Her menu mixes traditional flavours with Thai trends that are on the rise. All sharing plates are priced at $10, but a snack menu that will feature tapas-style dishes priced at $3–$6 is in the works.
The Drinks: A short list of wine and beer, plus three cocktails made with tropical ingredients like mango, lychee and pineapple. Non-alcoholic options include house-made cha yen—a traditional drink made with iced tea, served with or without milk.
The Place: It’s fitting that soi means alleyway in Thai, since the restaurant is tucked into a narrow space on busy College Street. The owners wanted to recreate the feeling of stumbling onto one of Bangkok’s lively laneways: plastic stools, colourful flags and slapdash driftwood benches are standard details, but a bar disguised as a makeshift convenience store is the true pièce de résistance—it’s packed with hard-to-find Thai treats that Nopphawan’s mother brought over from Thailand in her suitcase.