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What’s on the menu at Savor, a 4,000-square-foot Thai restaurant in Corso Italia with an Iron Chef in the kitchen

Toronto has never seen Thai food like this before

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Joshua Best
What's on the menu at Savor, a 4,000-square-foot Thai restaurant in Corso Italia with an Iron Chef in the kitchen
Prasopchok Trakulpha, otherwise known as Chef Art

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Name: Savor Contact: 1226 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-410-0303, savortoronto.ca, @savorthaito
Neighbourhood: Corso Italia
Owners: Phanom (Patrick) Suksaen (EAT BKK, Koh Lipe, Som Tum Jinda) and Kugandran Perampalan (Thairoom Grand) Chef: Prasopchok Trakulphat Accessibility: Fully accessible   While there is no shortage of Thai food in Toronto, the nuanced cuisine is often less than respected by many of the city’s pad thai spots. That’s where Savor comes in. This surprising new gem on St. Clair West treats Thai food with the veneration it deserves—there’s even a golden temple (it doubles as a host stand) and a Thai Iron Chef, Prasopchok Trakulphat (otherwise known as Chef Art), in the kitchen.

The exterior of Savor, a Thai restaurant on St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto, Ontario

And like a Thai temple, the dining experience, which comprises two separate menus, is also tiered. An à la carte menu is built around Chef Art’s take on more traditional Thai dishes, like pad thai, larb and curry. “I don’t want to throw the word authentic around too much,” he says. “We use so many ingredients, and at times substitutes may be a little better to get the proper flavours, but the goal is always for the proper balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet that is crucial in the familiar Thai dishes.” Then there’s Chef Art’s tasting menu, which takes guests on a culinary journey where thrilling yet familiar Thai flavours come from surreal plates that look nothing like your standard bowl of green curry.

Savor's service director Brian Pechaborwornkiat, Chef Art and Reen Priya, restaurant operator and bar manager.
From left to right: service director Brian Pechaborwornkiat, Chef Art and Reen Priya, restaurant operator and bar manager
The food

A combination of composed classic Thai dishes (like braised short rib and massaman curry) and more modern takes on traditional flavours (like a sous-vide roulade of smoked chicken galangal next to a forest of morels or stuffed peppers served on a bonsai tree). And though the avant-garde tasting experience represents a different side of Chef Art, his passion is equally present in the à la carte menu. The quality of the plates is consistent across the board, so when choosing between the two, consider only this: Is your preference dinner then theatre or dinner as theatre?

Savor's artful take on pla goong, a three-part salad
This salad course is Chef Art’s take on pla goong, a dish that is somewhere between a ceviche and a salad—and one of the highlights of Savor’s tasting menu ($135 per person). The “salad” is made of three components meant to be eaten together in one cohesive sweet, sour and spicy bite. The plate on the right features a sliced pan-seared scallop, a mix of grapefruit and pomelo, a sprinkling of salty herring roe and a bit of micro mint. The components are lightly dressed in a fresh lime vinaigrette. On the left is a salad of peppery arugula, pomelo, grapefruit and starfruit. And the potted plant in the middle artfully displays roasted and skinned peppers stuffed with a slightly gelatinized filling flavoured with fish sauce, lemongrass and lime vinaigrette

 

A sliced scallop served in its shell at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
Here’s a closer look at the scallop

 

A tree adorned with stuffed peppers at Savor, a Thai restaurant on St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto
And the adorable stuffed peppers.

 

A salad of arugula, peppers, pomelo, grapefruit and scallop at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
All components are meant to be mixed together and eaten as a salad

 

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The Massaman braised short rib, served with rice and a cucumber-chili condiment
The massaman braised short rib features intensely flavoured, appropriately jiggly beef that has been browned and then slowly braised for three hours in coconut milk and massaman spices. The dish is served with braised Thai peanuts, braised shallots, heirloom carrots and potatoes and garnished with crispy shallots and mint. On the side: steamed jasmine rice and a condiment of cucumber and chilies in rice vinegar syrup. $35

 

Rch Massaman curry is poured over the short rib table-side at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
The rich massaman curry is poured over the short rib tableside

 

A dish of pad Thai with prawns at Savor, a new Thai restaurant in Toronto's west end
The pad thai with prawns is a traditional take with a few tricks. For instance, in addition to the classic dried shrimp used in old-world recipes, Chef Art includes Japanese katsuobushi flakes for some added depth and smokiness. The sauce is made exclusively with fish sauce, tamarind juice and palm sugar. The noodles are stir-fried with dried shrimp, tofu, shallots and cured turnip. The prawns are seared, tossed with the sauce and placed on top of the noodles along with bean sprouts and Chinese chives. On the side: a light shallot, pickled banana blossom (similar to a heart of palm), bean sprout, red pepper and grapefruit salad. $35

 

Savor's take on tom kha, a dish of chicken roulade stuffed with mushrooms, and served with seasonal mushrooms, garlic scapes and pea shoots
It was Chef Art’s intention to restore tom kha (which is now usually eaten as a coconut soup with mushroom) to its original glory, when it was simply braised chicken in coconut milk with galangal spices. He roulades the chicken with a duxelle of earthy mushrooms and cilantro before cooking it sous-vide and then searing it. The dish sits in a reduced tom kha sauce and is served with a mix of seasonal mushrooms, garlic scapes and pea shoots. It’s also garnished with chicken skin tuille

 

A take on tom yum at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
Also part of the tasting menu, this is Chef Art’s take on tom yum
The drinks

Each cocktail on the menu represents one of the nine noppakao, a collection of gems that are said to bring prosperity. Preeminent potables include the Ravishing Ruby, a kind of electrically charged Southeast Asian margarita that gets its beautifully saturated hue from house-made ube syrup, and the Pearly Essence, an umami bomb made with cilantro-and-shallot-infused mezcal, rimmed with sticky rice and served in a bamboo steamer.

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The Pearly Essence cocktail at Savor, made with shallot-infused mezcal
The Pearly Essence is meant to mimic the sour, savoury, sweet, spicy and herbal notes of larb salad. It’s made with cilantro-and-shallot-infused mezcal and hot Thai chilies and rimmed with lime and roasted sticky rice. $22

 

Savor's Thai take on the Manhattan cocktail, served in a smoked-filled cloche
The Gomedakam Fusion is a smoky, spirit-forward Southeast Asian spin on the classic manhattan. Vermouth infused with Thai tea is blended with whiskey, bourbon, yuzu syrup and bitters. It’s then smoked with Thai tea leaves and applewood and presented in a smoke-filled cloche. $20

 

The Ravishing Ruby, a cocktail made with Asian pear–infused tequila
The Ravishing Ruby is a stirred drink made with a blend of Asian pear–infused tequila, ube syrup and lime juice. The exquisite cocktail, garnished with a dehydrated slice of Asian pear, is fruit-forward from the pear, earthy from the tequila and slightly nutty from the ube. $25

 

The Loy Krathong Breeze is a coconutty, zero-proof cocktail at Savor, a new Thai restaurant in Toronto
The Loy Krathong Breeze is a zero-proof blend of coconut milk, coconut water and guava juice, served on the rocks with a toasted coconut rim. It’s a booze-free vacation in a glass. $14 ($21 with tequila and Triple Sec)

 

The Boom Bang Fai Fizz is Savor's zero-proof cocktail that comes with a sparkler garnish
Boom Bang Fai Fizz is a zero-proof cocktail that represents the Thai rocket festival (hence the sparkler garnish). The mocktail is a blend of nutmeg syrup, ginger, Thai basil, Thai chilies, lemongrass and tonic water. $15 ($22 with gin)

 

The space

The 4,000-square-foot restaurant takes up two floors of what was once a bank. Traditional Thai touches (like the golden temple host stand and the hundreds of imported golden bells that hang from the ceiling) sit confidently within an art deco space featuring beautiful archways, a winding staircase, mosaic flooring and tufted banquette seating.

The elaborate host stand at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto's west end
The downstairs dining room, with a view of the open kitchen, at Savor
The main floor dining space, with a view of the open kitchen, at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto's west end
The downstairs dining room at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto, is lined with boots
A booth in the main floor dining room of Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto's west end
Looking down at the Golden Temple–adorned host stand at Savor, a Thai restaurant
The bar at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
The second-floor dining room at Savor, a new Thai restaurant in Toronto
Golden bells hang from the ceiling of the second-floor dining space at Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto
Paintings on the wall of the upstairs dining room of Savor, a Thai restaurant in Toronto

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