When you ask around for the best Thai in Toronto, Khao San Road would echo in every conversation. But I was skeptical. My high school years was made up of visits to our local dive Thai & Laos place Phounguen for the four must: larb, lao green papaya salad, lao fried rice and beef tongue… all accompanied by a wedge of cabbage to sooth all of the heat. The cured tang, crunch in the right parts, resisting perfectly grilled meats and salad too hot for my low-spice tolerant self. This was my comfort food.
Last weekend, we met Monte. Monte Wan is the man behind Khao San Road and Nana. The first came for the staples, the real introduction of Thai cuisine – these are the favourites that the people of Toronto come back strictly for. The second was his venture outwards to really take his creativity and the spice levels up five notches, if you dare. Upon walking into Nana, you get an immediate outdoor food market vibe, as we are seated on plastic stools surrounded by green shutters across the walls and flags streaming throughout the space.
We came in today after 10PM to try the new late night menu, items starting from $5.
To start it all, the $6 cocktail, a sao chingcha “giant swing” is a must. A special to this menu after 10pm, a combination of oolong tea, citron, lime juice, ginger bourbon, gin and rosemary.The caramel popcorn beamed sweet, salty and dusty tangy spice, all elements which Thai food carries out. Each food item came out so quickly, we began to lose track of where we were on this late night snacking adventure. Walking into this evening off guard, each dish was a quick please, tender meats paired with pickled condiments and sauces which ended each bite off thoughtfully. Very fortunate to have been able to enjoy this meal, it’s one to remember.
The caramel popcorn beamed sweet, salty and dusty tangy spice, all elements which Thai food carries out.
Each food item came out so quickly, we already began to lose track of where we were on this late night snacking adventure. Walking into this evening off guard, each dish was a quick please, tender meats paired with pickled condiments and sauces which ended the bites off with perfect medley of flavours. The sour pork ribs were cured, holding up a sour and salty taste that was resisting with each rewarding bite. All perfect beer snacks.
The southern fried chicken laab is a must. Even if you have never had laab before, the roast rice dusted chicken pieces will tie together what should be true about Thai food. Small bites of chicken seasoned generously with lemongrass and chili. It’s perfect.
If you’re looking for a spicy challenge, just take two slivers of sliced pig ear salad. You’ll have beads of sweat forming on your nose guaranteed, but it’ll be hard to fight back going for more. This is the “thai” spice level of the entire late night menu.
Pad gra spring rolls are also a perfect. These are done vietnamese style, which is my favourite ever: rice paper rolls deep-fried. The texture is completely changed and makes it that much more savoury. Nana fills theirs with thai basil chicken with a sweet fish sauce.
And two spectacular desserts, one is what we know as mini chinese donuts, known as patongo. Adorable. custard mixed with pandan for the dipping sauce. Even after our full stomaches, we devoured all of this. And the perfect dessert, a banana roti fried and drizzled with condensed milk.
We had a special shot each to finish with. Pandan-infused vodka, absolutely delicious – the vodka could hardly be noted and it’s a combination that I wish I knew of in my vodka years. I have never been so pleased with a Toronto menu. Nana is easily noted as the best Thai I’ve had within my reach.Thank you, Monte for making this evening so memorable.
Thank you, Monte for making this evening so memorable.