Dining options in the Côte-des-Neiges district are limitless. For those who play it safe, there are several well-known chains, but this neighborhood proudly boasts ethnic eateries as diverse as the community. Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants lead the Asian pack and trailing far behind is the Thai genre, but Talay Thai seems to be holding it down.
Small and shabby, common in this area, Talay Thai is set on the top floor on the corner of Côte-des-Neiges and Côte-Saint-Catherine. Come lunch, it caters to a mix crowd of locals, UdeM students and Jewish General Hospital workers taking advantage of the Lunch Special that runs Monday to Friday. For a reasonable $9.50, it includes a lonely egg roll, rice, salad and a downsized main dish of your choice.
The Panang Kai, a red peanut curry with chicken, is a reliable go-to especially for peanut lovers. According to the menu, peanut sauce, coconut milk and red curry paste form the lavish liquid base. It also features diced chicken, crisp green and red bell peppers, and aromatic Thai basil. But, it’s the curry that binds everything together. Lush and nutty, a little sweet and spicy, it’s a well-balanced combination just as fragrant as it is tasty.
While it may not look as appealing as the Panang Kai, the Kaan Kian Waan Kai is my favorite of the two. This green chicken curry is a one-pot wonder of diced chicken, long beans and bamboo shoots swimming in a delicious green curry – a smooth, rich coconut milk base fused with spicy, herbal green curry paste. It has an underlying sweetness, definite of green curries, that pairs really nicely with the sweet licorice tone of Thai basil, and a pleasant heat that tickles the tongue. Be sure to lay it on thick and let every spoonful ease you from head to toe.
Both saucy dishes go hand in hand with plain white rice. Don’t fret, it soaks up the liquid and all its flavors, but most importantly, it doesn’t take anything away from the savory curries. Portion-wise, there’s not enough rice on the plate to clean the bowl dry and that should be a crime. As for the Mango salad, the main ingredient is the namesake fruit. The yellow flesh, bordering ripe, is sweet but still tart. Cut into sizeable sticks, it’s tossed with red onions, red bell peppers, Thai basil, crushed peanuts and a light dressing; a refreshing salad indeed.
A little rough around the edges, Talay Thai is a very casual place to grab lunch for a fair price. If you have any questions, the friendly waiters are happy to walk you through the menu and they’re quick to serve. Take it from me, like took it from my waiter, get Talay Thai’s specialty curries. To be fair, I haven’t tried anything else to make other suggestions, but the curries are sure thing. The combination of fiery, bold curry pastes and luscious coconut milk promises a comforting affair big on taste, perfect to chase off the upcoming winter chills.
N.B. Peanut Allergy Sufferers Beware
5697 chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges | map