Phayathai – Montreal, Quebec
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1235 Rue Guy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
$$$ – Entrees for 15 – 20 CAD
Ready for a change after consuming several heavy French meals in a row, we looked (again, on Urbanspoon) for a great Thai restaurant. We found one in the Concordia University area, a place with plenty of nightlife around to check out after our meal. Easy subway access, but we, of course, chose to ride our rental bikes.
The restaurant, Phayathai, is on the second story and holds seating for approximately 30 people—pretty small and, again, we’re pretty sure we saw the owner busing tables. There were a few round tables that seat six, but, to be safe, you should probably make a reservation for big parties.
First off, we ordered a MOJITO and a MOLSON DRY beer. The mojito wasn’t one of the recommended drinks, but we went with it anyway. The mint wasn’t muddled – more or less haphazardly thrown in to make it “look good.” Without the muddled mint, the mojito tasted more like a Sprite with extra sugar (you could taste the sugary grit through the straw) than a minty refreshment.
The Molson Dry, a Canadian special, was 5.5 percent alcohol and pretty dry but not heavy. Just…oddly dry. Not a beer we would choose to drink regularly, but a nice local beer to try at…a Thai restaurant in Canada.
For our appetizer, we split what we came for: the SOM TAM SALAD (7.95 CAD). A recent favorite of ours after our trip to Thailand, we specifically look for this item on the menu before choosing a Thai restaurant. At Phayathai, this salad had a two out of three peppers, denoting the spiciness of the dish. In our experience, the papaya salad is generally pretty spicy, and this version was no different. I’d give this dish more than a two out of three rating—maybe they should make the rating have more numbers to clarify the level of spice. It was still enjoyable, but very close to my threshold. The fresh, unripe green papaya was paired with carrots – all shredded – and mixed with the spicy sauce which had a faint peanut taste. It felt like were were in Thailand again. Good news for us Charlestonians, our local restaurant, Basil, is probably the best Som Tam salad we’ve had this side of the Pacific.
We also split an entrée, the BBQ DUCK IN RED CURRY & COCONUT MILK (17.75 CAD). On the spice scale, the curry was a solid two or three steps down from the Som Tam, but still mediocrely spicy. The dish arrived in a covered bowl with a side of steamed rice. The duck was mixed with the curry sauce, and a couple of strips of red and green bell peppers, pineapple and bamboo. Although the duck was on the fatty side, the dish had plenty of the distinctive Thai flavor that we’ve come to love.
The service at (what appeared to be) the family-run restaurant was great, prices were fair and the atmosphere was quiet, even with a rather full dining room when we arrived at 9:30 p.m. Although there were white table clothes, there was paper on top – not the fanciest, but it is smart as it is hard to not make a mess with the sauce-based Thai dishes.
BOTTOM LINE: All-in-all, we were pleased with this Thai restaurant, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace from the typical French or French-Canadian restaurants found on every corner.