Beating the cold winter blues at Satay on the Road


Melissa Starkey, with her friend, tried Satay on the Road to see how it measured up to the food she ate in Bangkok
Melissa Starkey, with her friend, tried Satay on the Road to see how it measured up to the food she ate in Bangkok

The weather has turned cold, and snow is already piling up on the roads and the sidewalks.

It’s hard for me to remember that just a few weeks ago I was roaming the bustling streets of Bangkok, watching the lanterns drift into the night sky in Chiang Mai, and then swimming in the Andaman Sea in an attempt to beat the stifling heat.

Good food with a good friend on a Monday night seemed like the perfect opportunity to sit back and take a moment to relax and enjoy. To help remind me of my recent travels, we chose a Thai restaurant in the neighbourhood – Satay on the Road.
With the snow crunching beneath our feet, we made our way up Bayview Avenue. The air was chilly, the street was quiet, and the bright blue sign of Satay on the Road led us to a warm and welcoming restaurant.

Satay on the road store frontAs we walked in, we were taken by how tasty-looking – and smelling – the food one couple was eating seemed to be. It looked so delicious that we asked the server what they were having and made a mental note to order it on our next visit.

Having just spent a month in Thailand existing on Pad Thai, Thom Kha Soup, and assorted curries I feel I am now something of an expert on Thai cuisine. I insisted we order the meals that I had (almost) perfected in my cooking class in Bangkok.

We made our selections on the menu and ordered. First up, we had to have spring rolls! How more traditionally Thai can you get?

Pho Pia Phak: Vegetable Rolls

Glass noodles with vegetables wrapped in Thai pastry with Thai house sauce – $3.95

They were like any other spring roll I’ve tried except maybe double the size! I didn’t think they were amazing, but there was nothing to find fault with.

Next up, my favourite:

Tom Kha Gai: Coconut Chicken Soup

Chicken with coconut milk, lemon grass, mushroom, lemon juice, galingale & chilli served piping hot – $6.95

I tried this soup many years ago at Satay on The Road’s other location on Avenue Road. It’s been my favourite for years and was actually the dish that converted me to a mushroom lover. The way the mushrooms bob at the top of the soup when it comes out, and with the scent of ginger and lemongrass wafting from the bowl, just makes me happy. At $6.95 you wouldn’t expect it to be too large a serving, but it can easily be split between two or three for an appetizer.

The big surprise is that even my Thai cooking teacher’s version or the ones I tried at all the restaurants I visited in Thailand don’t surpass the flavour of Satay on the Road’s.

Sadly, I wasn’t thrilled with the Pad Thai.

Thai rice noodle with tiger shrimps, tender chicken, tofu, eggs, tamarind sauce, sprinkled with roasted peanuts served with fresh beansprouts & lime. Vegetarian version available – $10.95

I’ve had better Pad Thai elsewhere in Toronto, so I probably wouldn’t order this one here next time. Again, there’s nothing to find fault with other than it didn’t leave me thinking “wow, that was great,” even though our server was happy to bring me extra peanuts when I asked, which definitely gave it a bit more flavour.

I didn’t know curry was a Thai staple until recently. I had always associated curries with Indian food, but my world has now changed.

We ordered Panang Gai: Chicken Curry

Chicken in thick red curry sauce, coconut milk & long beans – $12.45

A friend of mine is a regular here and recommended I order this dish but substitute the long beans for pineapple. The server was happy to make the substitution, and boy was that the right call. Delicious!

I am not a big lover of spice, so I noticed the kick immediately, but the taste was better than the spice was hot. I am a baby when it comes to heat. This dish was nowhere in the realm of Indian food spicy and anyone who orders chicken wings with higher than mild spice probably won’t have any issue with it.

Even though we had more than enough food (and leftovers for days!), we also ordered Nuer Yang: Thai Beef Steak

Grilled beef marinated with special Thai spices, garlic & pepper served with Thai chilli garlic sauce – $14.95

It was smoky, cooked to a delicious medium/medium rare, with the sauce on the side to add as much or as little as you like. I can’t rave about this dish enough.

I really wanted to end the meal with a sticky rice and mango, but I ate so much great food I just couldn’t find room. I’ll be back for dessert!