After setting up four Thai restaurants in Toronto satisfying Canadian tastes in Thai cooking, owner Patrick Suxsaen decided it was time to introduce real Thai street food to Torontonians. His fifth restaurant, Jatujak, serves the kind of street food one enjoys in the hot, busy outdoor markets in and around Bangkok where street vendors set up barbeques and prepare many of the world’s most favourite dishes.
Opened over a year ago, named after Bangkok’s largest (35-acre) outdoor market, Jatujak (or Chatuchak), the food prepared at the tiny, busting restaurant is in the Thai street food tradition rather than more elegant Thai dining. Typical fare includes simple noodle dishes, soups, curries and grilled meats, all intended to be eaten “on the run”. But it’s the tastes that make the difference— street food is spicier, full of stronger flavours and pungent aromas.
“Like all Thai cooking, we balance the four components of Thai food”, explains Patrick, “Hot and spicy, sour, sweet and salty.” But he adds, “We make everything from scratch, and keep it authentic.” This means, for example, our Pad Thai isn’t bright red like most you see in Toronto (because our chef does not add ketchup). Instead, the Pad Thai at Jatujak has a more brownish appearance from ingredients such as tamarind.
For those already used to the kind of Thai food you’d find in Bangkok, Patrick suggests you try the green curry made with bamboo shoots, basil, kaffir lime leaves and green peppers, or the chicken massaman curry. A For those newer to Thai food, Patrick suggests perhaps a noodle dish called Khao Soi, from the northern region near Burma. “It’s a menu item we’re introducing to Torontonians”, says Patrick. You don’t find Khao Soi in most restaurants yet.” And of course, he encourages everyone to try the Jatujak Pad Thai.
Chef Aon and Patrick, both born and raised in Thailand, prepare the food. Aon learned from her mother all the lessons of true, Thai cooking. Since coming to Canada, she has worked at many well-known Thai restaurants. As dishes are made fresh (and according to orders), customers can ask that their favourite food be prepared as a vegetarian or gluten free option. Each month there are 3 specials, which give Aon further opportunity to create new, wonderful delights.
Patrick points out that the family-style dining at Jatujak is intended to be casual, with space for about 25. But take-out orders are almost limitless. Literally, hundreds of orders are placed on busy weekends, so customers are encouraged to call or book ahead to avoid waiting.
by Beth Parker
1466 Kingston Road, 416-698-1466
Monday-Sunday 11 am-10 pm