August 21, 2014
Apr 10, 2013
04:55 PM

First Look: Jatujak, a new street-style Thai restaurant in Scarborough

Lemongrass chicken wings (Image: Natalie Swiercz)

Scarborough’s new Thai joint, Jatujak, serves up some bold flavours that contrast with the room’s modest decor. The highlights at this two-week old takeout spot are bright orange curries and vibrant yellow khao sois — but if you’re looking for a ruby-red pad Thai, you’ll have better luck elsewhere.

“Real pad Thai isn’t made with ketchup, that’s just the way they make it in Canada,” says co-owner Phanom “Patrick” Suksaen.

Jatujak, named after the largest market in Thailand, serves street-style Thai food that aims to be as authentic as possible, which means the pad Thai ($10) is brown in hue, made with palm sugar and tamarind rather than Heinz.

Before moving to Canada four years ago, neither Suksaen nor his chef (and fellow co-owner) Suwaree “Aon” Sakoonpham had any restaurant experience — Suksaen worked as a satellite communications engineer and Sakoonpham as a nurse. And while this isn’t Suksaen’s first foray into food (he’s a co-owner of Young Thailand and has a stake in a handful of other establishments around town), this is his first attempt to buck Toronto Thai restaurant trends, which tend to coddle Canadian stomachs.

“Chef Aon cooks like she would for her friends and family,” says Suksaen.

The lemongrass chicken wings ($8), which are garnished with chilies, deep-fried lemongrass and on-the-vine green peppercorns, have been selling out. All sauces that aren’t made in-house are imported straight from Thailand to make certain that the flavour spectrum is spot on.

While the menu has a number of familiar dishes on it, such as pad Thai and tom kha soup ($6), the offerings also include more exotic curries such as the gaeng masaman ($11), a coconut milk- and peanut-based dish spiced with tamarind, star anise and cinnamon and garnished with deep-fried onions and chilies. Another not-so-easy-to-find Thai dish that appears on the one-page menu: khao soi ($11), a coconut milk-based soup served with crispy egg noodles and finished with some chili heat.

Located a stone’s throw from The Beach, we imagine that lakeside picnics are going to be boosted by Sakoonpham’s cuisine come summer. But, for those rainy days where you don’t feel like leaving your house, there’s always delivery.

Jatujak, 1466 Kingston Rd., 416-698-1466

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