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What’s on the menu at Chaiyo, a fast-casual Thai counter from chef Nuit Regular

It’s inside CIBC Square’s fancy new fourth-floor food hall

By Liza Agrba| Photography by Jelena Subotic
What's on the menu at Chaiyo, a fast-casual Thai counter from chef Nuit Regular
Chaiyo chef and co-owner Nuit Regular

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Name: Chaiyo Contact: 81 Bay St., 4th floor (inside TABLE Fare and Social), chaiyotoronto.com, @chaiyotoronto
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owners: Nuit and Jeff Regular, Gusto 54 Group Chef: Nuit Regular
Accessibility: Fully accessible   Chaiyo (which means something like “cheers” or “hurrah” in Thai) has been in the works for a couple of years, but as with most ideas conceived peak-pandemic, it had to wait for more fortuitous times. As of this month, it’s the newest addition to chef Nuit Regular’s growing empire of Thai restaurants—which, in her vernacular, means the latest stop in her tour of regional Thai cuisine.

Jeff and Nuit Regular with the team members at Chaiyo, their new fast-casual Thai counter inside Toronto's CIBC Square

Sukhothai, her first project, focused on dishes from central Thailand—namely the creamy curries, stir-fries and spring rolls most familiar to westerners. Next, Pai featured the spicy, herbaceous food of the north, and Kiin the intricate, meticulously prepared cuisine of Thai royalty. Chaiyo is Regular’s ode to Thailand’s buzzing street markets and the dizzying array of dishes they serve.

Appropriately enough for its source material, Chaiyo is located in a food hall (albeit a very swanky one on the fourth floor of CIBC Square). For Regular, the relatively tight menu and quick-service model is an opportunity to be freewheeling with the day’s selections, adjusting for seasonality and her ever-changing inspiration.

Chef Nuit Regular makes a tray of side dishes from the hot counter at Chaiyo, her new fast-casual Thai restaurant in Toronto
The food

It’s a rotating menu with a few mainstays: pad thai (which Nuit stresses is 100 per cent ketchup-free), creamy khao soi, a selection of noodle soups and a daily curry. A hot table is stocked with around six dishes that will change regularly and from which customers can concoct their own mix-and-match combos. A composed feature dish or two, like Chinese-inspired braised pork hock or shrimp paste–fried rice, will also make appearances.

A spread of dishes available at Chaiyo, a new fast-casual Thai restaurant in Toronto

Standard North American food hall Thai tends to play it safe, leaning on flavours and textures familiar (or at least not so challenging) to the Western palate. Regular, as she proved with Pai and Kiin, isn’t afraid to push the envelope with certain dishes. “Thai people love meat with a bit of texture,” she says, mulling over the beef shank in one of her noodle soups. “I know that may be foreign for some of our guests here, but I want to represent how Thai people really eat.”

The chicken pad thai at Chaiyo, a Thai lunch counter in Toronto
This is the chicken pad thai, a tangle of rice noodles with bean sprouts, tofu, egg and chives, all laced with a sauce sweetened by palm sugar and soured by tamarind. It’s topped with crisp green cabbage, tender grilled chicken and crushed house-roasted peanuts. Also available with fried chicken or with no meat at all. $19

 

A bowl of braised beef noodle soup at Chaiyo, chef Nuit Regular's new fast-casual Thai counter in Toronto
Here we have the braised beef and rice noodle soup, in which braised shank and beef balls swim in a dark, deeply aromatic five-spice broth. The flavour is pure beefiness, but the soup has no shortage of veggies, with Chinese broccoli and celery, bean sprouts, green onion, sawtooth coriander, and a sprinkle of crushed fried garlic. $19

 

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A bowl of khao soi at Chaiyo, chef Nuit Regular's Thai counter inside CIBC Square's new food hall
Here we have the khao soi, creamy with coconut and spiced with turmeric, galangal, black cardamom and chilies over egg noodles. It’s topped with tender grilled chicken peppered with fresh shallot, pickled mustard greens, chili oil and crispy fried egg noodles. $19

 

Pork hock, rice and Chinese broccoli at Chaiyo, a new Thai restaurant inside Toronto's CIBC Square
For this dish, pork hock is deep-fried and then braised in Chinese five spice until tender. A pungent sauce of vinegar, rock sugar, galangal, garlic and chili comes on the side, along with Chinese broccoli and pickled mustard greens (khao kha moo). $20

 

Thai-style Hainanese chicken with rice and winter melon soup at Chaiyo, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
A bit of Thai-Chinese fusion, this is a Thai-style Hainanese chicken, or khao mun gai. The rice is steamed in a chicken stock spiced with garlic and ginger, then topped with chicken thighs poached in a concentrated broth and dried to crisp their skin. On the side: a sweet, salty and sour sauce with fermented soy bean, a few slices of crisp cucumber and a bowl of winter melon soup (behind on the left). $20

 

A bowl of winter melon soup, which comes with the Thai-style Hainanese chicken at Chaiyo
Here’s a closer look at the winter melon soup that comes with the Hainanese chicken. Slightly sweet winter melon sits in a light broth spiced with earthy white pepper and finished with coriander. It tastes like it will cure whatever ails you

 

A bowl of tom yum soup at Chaiyo, chef Nuit Regular's new fast-casual Thai counter inside Toronto's CIBC Square
The loaded tom yum noodle soup is Regular’s personal must-have when she visits her home country of Thailand. Her version is topped with bean sprouts, squid, shrimp and absolutely massive New Zealand mussels. Beneath are rice noodles in a bracingly sour, spicy and sweet broth spiced with lemongrass, galangal, tamarind and lime leaves. $19

 

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The hot table selection at Chaiyo, a fast-casual Thai restaurant in Toronto
The day’s hot table selections, from which customers can pick and choose their own combos

 

A combo plate of Thai side dishes at Chaiyo, a new fast-casual takeout counter in Toronto's CIBC Square
This is a sample of everything from the hot table on the day we visited, though you’d normally make a combo of up to three items. Left to right from the top, we have kabocha squash with egg and garlic; fried rice; pink vermicelli noodles stir fried with garlic and green onions; creamy green curry beef with chayote; beef with sweet, crunchy yard long beans and Thai basil; long eggplant with red pepper, fermented soy paste and Thai basil; and stir-fried spinach with fermented soy bean and garlic
The drinks

There’s a small selection of soft drinks, but for the full experience, order Chaiyo’s house-brewed Thai iced tea: lightly sweetened, fortified with milk and made with fermented tea leaves to give it that sunset-orange hue.

A bottle of house-made Thai iced tea at Chaiyo, a Thai takeout counter in Toronto
The space

Table is a squarely upmarket food hall on the fourth floor of CIBC Square. Think warm lighting, imported European furniture, a range of seating styles—from bar stools and booths to big family tables—and even a large outdoor seating area. Chaiyo’s stand, bedecked with teak detailing and colourful stained glass, echoes the architecture of northern Thailand.

The counter and menu at Chaiyo, Nuit Regular's new fast-casual Thai restaurant in Toronto
The team at Chaiyo, Nuit Regular's new fast-casual Thai kitchen in a Toronto food court

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