After a much needed treat, I decided to have lunch at Pai. Pleasantly surprised by its eclectic décor of family photos and vinyl record sleeves posted on the walls reminded me of why I got into food blogging. The restaurant was split in two different areas separated by the main bar featuring local and Thai liquor. I was sitting in a room full of suits and their friends having their lunch break at Pai. To an extent, I felt a little out of place. I already look much younger than I actually am and sitting next to my bright green backpack didn’t help either. Nonetheless, the staff was friendly, inviting and quite efficient. I especially appreciated that they indulged me by going through their lunch menu with me and explained what the dishes were. Like what I always try to do, I asked my server for his recommendation. He recommended the Khao Soi with chicken while I fixed my eye on the dessert, egg custard on sticky rice.
If you can’t take heat that well, try something a little milder. The khao soi is pretty spicy and it builds up as you continue eating the dish. I liked the contrast between the texture of the crispy noodles and the cooked noodles coated with the curry sauce. It was creamy, rich and flavourful. I squeezed a couple of lime wedges to cut through the richness of the sauce and to balance the flavours. Overall the dish delivered to what it intended to bring-nostalgia.
After my meal, I asked if I could wander off to see the photographs on the wall from the other room. The host explained to me that these photographs told a story. He said that his friend, the owner, had an affinity with Pai and wanted to bring Pai to North America. Embedded in the restaurant’s story was the owner’s story and how he fell in love with the music, art, and food he experienced in Pai. This love affair resonated throughout the space and his cuisine. Most of the photographs and vinyl sleeves were from his own family albums and collections. It may not have been the fanciest joint in town but I can understand why suits come in, day in and day out. You can feel the warmth and love that the owners put in the restaurant. They wanted to bring us Pai, but they also brought us passion.