PinToh in Burlington Creatively Enhances Thai Cuisine

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In case you haven’t noticed, this is my first time writing about a Thai restaurant. I love culinary adventures, but admittedly I had a negative dining experience in Vancouver in the last century that left me with an “avoid” attitude compared to “approach”. Not very adult but here it is.

Some time ago a crack appeared in this wall. I ate Massaman Curry at Sabai Sabai, the Toronto restaurant linked to the famous Chef Nuit Regular. It put me over the moon and since then I have collected recipes that sort of match its listed ingredients of braised beef, tamarind sauce, star anise, cloves, peanut, potato, potato paste. shrimp and coconut cream. Have I ever tried to do this? No.

As such, it has become a central part of my Thai culinary strategy. Many local restaurants were recommended, but I chose one that had Massaman Curry on the menu – PinToh Cuisine. On the Lakeshore in Burlington, they just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the rebranding from My Thai to PinToh – a reference to Thai enamel tiffin type food carriers – part of their brand and something they were selling before the pandemic.

Chef Keng’s Pad Thai includes noodles, chicken, shrimp, tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, onions, tamarind sauce, coconut milk and fried shallots served with peanuts, pickled radishes.Diane galambos

Manager Mary Prum explained that part of the rebranding was due to the team being joined by a talented new chef – Chutichai Singhakraipan – affectionately known as Chef Keng. He started to learn his trade alongside his mother, but also studied at the famous Blue Elephant cooking school in Phuket. Years of cooking, including a stint in Uganda, set him on a path that led him to Australia until fate intervened and brought him to Canada.

Like all cuisines, centuries-old commercial influences have impacted Thai cuisine, leading, for example, to the introduction of chili from the Americas. Modern regional differences are notable, such as the liberal use of coconut milk in southern Thailand.

Chef Keng of PinToh Cisine in Burlington.
Chef Keng of PinToh Cisine in Burlington.PinToh Kitchen

When I order Thai food, I prefer menus that use Thai terminology. If I order a “Lemon Shrimp Soup”, I would like to know that I ate the classic “Tom-Yam-Goong” – a shrimp soup, flavored with chilli and lemongrass. Fortunately, PinToh takes care to help diners learn Thai terminology when appropriate.

Our first appetizer was the Satay, a chicken skewer marinated in coconut curry, served with peanut sauce and a cucumber salad. The Thai Fresh Rolls were vegetables wrapped in rice paper – carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, and maybe a little too much lettuce – with a choice of peanut or spicy mint sauce. We were off to a good start.

Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai) introduced me to galangal root which comes from the ginger / turmeric family – in this case, grated into the soup to give it a slightly lemony flavor. Combined with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, onions and chicken – creamy with coconut milk – this was a wonderful dish.

Coconut soup is made from galangal root, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, coconut milk, and chicken.
Coconut soup is made with galangal root, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, coconut milk and chicken.Diane galambos

I haven’t always been impressed with Pad Thai, but I tried my luck with “Chef Keng’s Pad Thai” – described as “our chef’s take on your favorite noodle dish – rice noodles , chicken, shrimp, tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, onions, tamarind sauce, coconut milk and fried shallots served with peanuts, marinated radish, chives and dried peppers. You find yourself craving “the chef’s point of view” on any dish.

And then there was the Massaman Curry. The delicious flavor profile comes from a blend of spices that entered the country once the spice trade began. Available primarily to people of high rank, the spices created an early dish enjoyed only by the royal court. The first written mention of the recipe dates back to 1889. The version PinToh prepared was a delicious mild curry dish made with coconut milk, coconut sugar, sweet potatoes and cashews with braised beef. I will come back for more of this!

Massaman curry?  coconut milk, coconut sugar, sweet potatoes, cashews with braised beef?  next to Chef Keng's Pad Thai.
Massaman curry? coconut milk, coconut sugar, sweet potatoes, cashews with braised beef? next to Chef Keng’s Pad Thai.Diane galambos

If there’s mango salad on the menu, chances are I can’t resist. In local grocery stores, it’s mango season right now. If you imagine slices of juicy fresh fruit in a sweet salad, think again. The description of the salad specifies “green mango” and this is the preference in South East Asia. Chef Keng explains that a mango salad should be a bit crunchy and not too sweet, preferring a more salty side than a dessert. The salad, which mixes semi-ripe sliced ​​mangoes with cilantro, onions, red peppers, peanuts and a palm sugar dressing was very tasty.

Chef Keng says cooking is in his blood and he aims to use his creativity to elevate Thai cuisine using the best authentic ingredients. Director Prum says they can’t wait to resume their popular pre-pandemic suppers and cooking classes. Their Instagram account has several story highlights (circles under their profile) that share a lot about the restaurant and what it has to offer.

The mango salad is made with semi-ripe mangoes, cilantro, onions, red peppers, peanuts, and palm sugar dressing.
The mango salad is made with semi-ripe mangoes, cilantro, onions, red peppers, peanuts, and palm sugar dressing.Diane galambos

PinToh Kitchen

399 Elizabeth Street, Burlington

905-631-8373

pintoh.ca/

instagram.com/pintohcuisine/

Hours: Tuesday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. From Friday to Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

What I paid: Chicken satay $ 10; fresh Thai rolls $ 8; Massaman curry with beef $ 22; Chef Keng’s Pad Thai $ 20; Coconut and chicken soup $ 8; Mango Salad $ 10

Wheelchair access: Yes



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