Sabai Sabai is a new Thai spot just south of Ryerson from first-time restaurateurs Jason Jiang and Seng Luong, who’ve partnered with Jeff and Nuit Regular of Khao San Road and Sukhothai fame. The restaurant’s name translates roughly to “Everything’s chill,” which more or less sums up the relaxed vibe the owners are trying to cultivate. The room evokes Thai bars of the 1930s, with vintage prints and collages plastered all over the smoky blue walls and Southeast Asian cocktails dispensed from the long blond wood bar. Nuit Regular presides in the kitchen, where she cooks some of her favourite casual Northern Thai comfort foods not offered at her other restaurants.
Regular’s signature dishes, like her beloved khao soi and pad Thai, will not be found at Sabai Sabai (for fear of overshadowing the rest of the food). Instead, at lunchtime, the menu features single-plate grab-and-go dishes common in Thailand but not usually seen in Toronto, like tamarind-drizzled deep-fried basa with rice ($12), braised beef noodle soup with peanuts and lime juice ($10) and a vegan-friendly mock fish red curry with tamarind sauce ($9). In the evening, the menu turns to tapas-style sharing plates, like grilled pork skewers ($5 per piece), steamed curry fish in banana leaf ($5), green papaya salad ($5), ground-spice chicken noodle salad ($5) and wok-fried morning glory with soybeans and oyster sauce ($6). In the New Year, expect more noodle soups (served in a traditional rooster bowl from Thailand) and salads.
The 65-seat restaurant is intended to be part bar as well. Cocktails are made with Southeast Asian ingredients like fresh lemongrass, cilantro and lime leaves, and are sold by the glass ($8) and by the pitcher. There’s also a short list of Ontario white wines and international reds, and a beer list that will soon feature Beerlao, the Laotian lager that is otherwise unavailable in Toronto.