Sabai Sabai, the word “bar” appeared quite frequently in descriptions of the new place. It is, indeed, cooler; charcoal grey punctuated by dozens of Edison lights, music booming.">

Kates: can good food be found at Sabai Sabai Kitchen, or just good bar food?



Sabai Sabai's crispy fried fish (Image: Gizelle Lau)

When chef Nuit Regular, the wizard from Chiang Mai, decamped from Khao San Road to open Sabai Sabai, the word “bar” appeared quite frequently in descriptions of the new place. It is, indeed, cooler; charcoal grey punctuated by dozens of Edison lights, music booming.

As for chef Regular’s nuanced and detailed Thai cooking, forget it. The khao soi — egg noodle in rich coconut curry with crisp noodles on top — seems heavy. Tom yum soup is all heat; spiced chicken noodle salad is unexciting, sticky rice is dried out and tamarind reduction on deep-fried fish is MIA.

It’s not bad food — just not sparkling. Bar food.

Sabai Sabai Kitchen and Bar, 225 Church St., 647-748-4225

Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine, and she was the Globe and Mail's restaurant critic for 38 years.

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