View Magazine (Jun 12 - 18, 2008)
When the Balfour Building, adjacent to the tragically disheveled
Lister Block, came down in April, one business was badly affected.
Inspectors closed Thai Memory, located on the ground floor of
the building immediately east of the now demolished Balfour, for
a month while demolition proceeded. For a new restaurant in the
core, that might have meant the end of business for good. After
dining there this week, I can’t imagine this Thai restaurant could
ever have problems drawing crowds of diners.
While it helps to be located in a beautiful early 20th C
commercial building, owners of Thai Memory needed no extra help turning this space into a visually stunning eatery. The large room is full of gorgeous Thai carvings, statuary and fabrics. Glittering mandalas share wall space with huge relief carvings of Thai goddesses. A waterfall empties into a small pond, surrounded by more goddesses, greenery and flowers. An ornately British curio cabinet is stuffed with gorgeous tchochkes. The well–lacquered tables and chairs in the forward half of the dining room are wood that’s been carved from tree pieces that have been left as organically whole as possible to show off the natural beauty and shape of the wood. In the rear half of the room, the tables are more formal. It was here, in the cool dusky evening light, my guests and I sat.
The server was endlessly patient with us. He brought us
water in tall–stemmed glasses while we made our way through the considerable menu. It wasn’t easy choosing from the very many possibilities, but eventually we chose to start with two appetizers.
Gai Satay, or chicken satay ($6.25), is a standard and a
favourite of my young guest. The four skewers were tender breast meat that benefited nicely from the delicious peanut dipping sauce. Blended smooth, the sauce had a hint of both tamarind and heat, making it a worthy dip for little fingers. Shrimp cakes, Thawd Man Goong ($7.25), were my particular indulgence. The shrimp was minced and formed into four large, thick patties. My guest, who isn’t a fan of seafood, agreed these cakes, served with a nice plum style sauce, were tasty.
From the menu of classic stir-fried dishes, my guest chose
the Pad Gra Phrao, spicy holy basil with chicken ($8.95). With a portion of steamed rice on the side ($1.00), this was served as a plate of fried chicken pieces in a tasty, moderately spicy, thin sauce with peppers. Crunchy, fried springs of holy basil garnished the dish. The beautiful presentation was like a visual representation of how delicious this dish was.
My main was the Royal Pad Thai ($9.95). I wanted to try a
dish that was less familiar to most people, but my eye kept
getting drawn back to this nice take on a Thai staple. The Pad Thai was prepared as usual, with glass noodles, bean sprouts, chive, peppers, fried tofu, chicken and jumbo shrimp. The entire serving was then elegantly wrapped in a very thin egg omelet. The top was then decorated with cuts in the form of an ‘X.’ The dish did not disappoint.
To say we enjoyed our meal might be an understatement. It
was fantastic. The menu has a lot of choices, including lots of vegetarian options. I highly recommend you visit soon.
III / III
25 King William