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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.