I was sad to see JaroBlue close last year and had almost forgotten about the new Thai restaurant that sprung up in its place.
Khao San Thai Kitchen is a fitting successor to JaroBlue. The décor has changed slightly, but not much. The only really big difference is on the walls. Gone are the beautiful images of wild horses, replaced with golden dragons and Thai art. If you loved JaroBlue’s charming crushed velvet banquettes and eclectic light fixtures, you’ll be happy to know they remain, and the ambience pairs well with the tasty Thai menu.
Partners Samphan Treeyachat and Rungroj Suntiwan own and operate Khao San Thai. Having worked together at Thai Sa-On, they have put their individual strengths in front-of-house and the kitchen to good use in their new venture.
After being welcomed and seated, my husband and I order a couple of cocktails. The list includes classics (nothing out of the ordinary) and a fairly basic beer and wine list.
The real treasures lie in the food menu, where we find a solid selection of appetizers, soups, salads, stir-fries, curries, seafood dishes and a great array of vegetarian entrée and salad options.
We decide to start with the corn fritters (four pieces, $7). Deep-fried to a golden brown, each fritter is chock full of kernels with just enough peppery batter to hold everything together in a flat cookie shape. Served with the house pineapple chile sauce, this is a light and flavourful take on a typically doughy snack.
Being the tofu fans that we are, we order the golden tofu (six pieces, $8). Like the fritters, the fried tofu (resembling sponge toffee) is remarkably light, and the roasted peanut sauce is the perfect accompaniment. The mix of sweet chili and peanuts is a great flavour enhancer.
Trying to decide on mains, we ask our server what she recommends and she is more than accommodating in helping us choose the right mix of dishes. Our first choice is one of Khao San Thai’s signature dishes, the braised short ribs in massaman curry ($21). Arriving in a shallow bowl, the dish features three large short ribs served on the bone in a pool of coconut milk with baby potatoes, onions and roasted peanuts. The beef is tender, flavourful and so tasty with our side coconut rice. We love the combination of textures.
Based on our server’s recommendation, we also get the basil stir-fry with prawn ($18, also available with chicken, pork or beef). This dish packs a nice spicy punch and is filled with fresh ingredients like onions, bamboo shoots, crushed chili, Thai basil leaves, carrots and green peppers. The dish is a great complement to the massaman beef.
For dessert, we debate trying the taro pearls in sweetened coconut milk ($5) or the sticky rice with fresh mango ($5). Even though I’m not quite sure I can eat any more rice, we go with our server’s recommendation of the sticky rice. She doesn’t steer us wrong. Served in four small cakes, the rice is sweetened with coconut milk and palm sugar. Each square is then topped with fresh mango, coconut milk and sesame seeds. The earthiness from the seeds is the perfect topping to this delicately sweet dessert — it’s a tasty end to a lovely meal.
I’ll definitely be back to Khao San Thai. The food is reasonably priced and authentically crafted, the service is warm, helpful and attentive, and the “recycled” ambience makes for a perfectly intimate date night or group outing. It’s the right mix of everything I love.
Khao San Thai is located at 1314 17 Ave. S.W., 587-353-2668.