For Montrealers experiencing cabin fever and waiting anxiously for the winter thaw, there’s a relevant ancient Chinese proverb which states, “Eat where you want to be, and not where you are.” Ok, I lied, I just made that up. But there are a handful of restaurants around the city that definitely help me imagine that I’m on an exotic south-east Asian beach on the coast of Thailand sipping on fruity cocktails and grubbing on fiery delights.
Chao Phraya (50 Ave Laurier Ouest) has been a fixture in Montreal for the past 26 years, being recognized as one of the first authentic Thai restaurants in the city. Their awesome “koung pad plik sod” – fried shrimp in hot chili, shallot and onion sauce will tease and surely whet your appetite. Remember to order a side of sticky rice to sop up all the sauce. Chao Phraya’s quintessential dish that is synonymous with Thai cuisine – the “Pad Thai” is a sautéed rice noodle dish that sees a mix of chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu and scallions tossed with a signature sweet and spicy sauce that stimulates each and every one of your senses.
Chu Chai (4088 Rue Saint-Denis) located in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood is unique unto itself for not only being the area’s go-to Thai restaurants, but it also offers the exquisite authentic tastes and flavours of Thai cuisine to the vegetarian crowd. Using the freshest of ingredients to replicate classic and traditional dishes, Chu Chai also uses an assortment of tofu and seitan to replace the animal proteins. Their claim to fame is the “miam kram”; an appetizer of roasted coconut, ginger, nuts, and a lime dressing served on a chaphlu leaf. Their “Neua Nam Tok” is also worth trying; a sweet and spicy mock beef dish sautéed with chilis, lime juice, cilantro and tossed with mint leaves. Incredibly fragrant and robust in flavour, you’d never know you were eating a vegetarian dish.
Tuk Tuk (5619 Côte-des-Neiges) named after motorbike rickshaws found in most parts of south-east Asian, all the way up town is a more casual spot that’s situated in the ground level of an apartment complex. Tuk tuk tantalizes residents in and around the building by specializing in the regional cuisine that is found on the Thailand-Cambodia border. Be sure to try the “Mee Srouy” which literally translates to “crispy noodles”. Delicate strands of fried noodles tossed with lettuce and a sweet and spicy lime dressing with chili sugar, garlic and fish sauce. A light start to any great Thai meal, this noodle salad entices all parts of your tongue.
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