Why has Thai cuisine achieved such global popularity? Well first, there’s its ability to perfectly balance strong flavours, like spicy chilis, sour lime and tamarind, creamy coconut, pungent fish sauce, and sweet palm sugar. Then there’s the sheer diversity of dishes, from creamy curries to smoky stir-fries and crowd-pleasing crispy spring rolls. Everyone can find something to love at a Thai restaurant.
Whether you’re already a fan of Thai food or looking to broaden your palate with fresh flavours, you’re lucky to be living in a city chock-full of outstanding Thai restaurants. Here are eight that Tasting Victoria can confirm are well worth a visit.
Baan Thai Wok & Bar
Baan Thai now has four locations around Greater Victoria: Downtown, Oak Bay, Broadmead, and Langford. That impressive expansion will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever sampled their delicious dishes.
Baan Thai offers both traditional and modern dishes, with spice levels ranging from mild to extra hot, so there’s something for everyone. Go ahead and bring the whole family! By minimizing their use of cooking oils, they keep dishes lower in fat while truly letting the bright flavours of Thailand shine through.
Want to sample a unique dish? Check out the Gaeng Ped, a sweet and savoury curry featuring roasted duck, lychee, pineapple, tomato, grapes, and basil. More in the mood for a classic? Their 120-year-old Pad Thai recipe never disappoints.
Family-run Sabhai Thai is another longtime local favourite with multiple outposts. The first Sabhai was opened in Sidney in 2006, and it has been consistently voted the area’s top ethnic restaurant in the 15 years since. A second location in Langford has proven equally popular.
Their focus is on authenticity, using traditional recipes, ingredients, and techniques. This is a great spot to experience the classics done right. Try the fantastic Tom Kah Gai (chicken and Coconut soup), which showcases the balance for which Thai cuisine is known. The rich coconut milk is perfectly paired with bright lime juice, spicy chilli, and crisp vegetables
Nohra Thai Kitchen
Nohra Thai Kitchen is a beautiful and authentic Thai restaurant located in Oak Bay. It’s owned by Phen Bryan, a native of Thailand who has been cooking the food of her homeland since it was taught to her by her grandmothers in childhood. With Nohra, she aims to offer elevated dishes that showcase the flavours of Thai cuisine while highlighting fresh local ingredients.
You can find top-notch versions of all the crowd-pleasing favourites here, like satay, Phad Thai, and rich aromatic curries. But it’s well worth branching out and trying the chef’s specials, which are clearly prepared with heart. Take a culinary tour by sampling both the southern Spicy and Sour Curry and the contrasting northern Khao Soi.
Sookjai Thai is another family-run restaurant, helmed by co-head chefs Mama and Papa Sookjai. Between the two of them, they have over 50 years of culinary experience, and you can definitely tell from both the taste and presentation of dishes.
Their daughter is also in the family business, running the front of the house and creating an impressive cocktail menu. It features delicious tropical delights like the Afternoon Delight, a blend of lychee liqueur, orange blossom water, coconut milk, and pineapple juice. Pair it with a crispy app like spring rolls or marinated deep-fried chicken wings, and you will indeed have a delightful afternoon.
Prior to opening Sookjai Thai, Mama Sookjai had a decade of experience in a dessert shop, so it is well worth saving room for one of her unique and creative treats. If you’re feeling bold, definitely try the Durian Lover, a sweet combination of durian and mango, sticky rice, coconut milk, and ice cream.
Thai Green Elephant
Residents of Vic West and Esquimalt should take note of the hidden gem that is the Thai Green Elephant. This unassuming looking spot offers an impressive selection of Thai favourites at affordable prices.
The appetizer platter, available for 2, 3, or 4 people—, featuring satay, spring rolls, and Thai- style fish cakes— and absolutely should not be missed. The salads are standouts as well, with both the larb and som tum showcasing the bright flavour contrasts the cuisine is known for.
809 Craigflower Rd.
Mango Thai, located at the Millstream Village mall, is one of Westshore’s best-kept secrets. Langford locals should count themselves lucky to enjoy this elevated take on traditional and modern Thai, and downtown residents should undertake the drive.
While Mango Thai offers delicious versions of classics like curries and spring rolls, they also offer unique delicacies not found elsewhere in the city. Most impressively, if you’ve visited Thailand and find yourself missing a particular dish, they invite you to call ahead and make a special request. This is a team truly passionate about exposing Canadians to everything Thai food can be, while also paying homage to local tastes and ingredients.
On your visit, be sure to try the “Thai Me Up” roll, an original creation featuring (real!) crab, prawns, and cream cheese. They also do fantastic things with pineapple, always perfectly balancing the fruit’s sweetness and acidity. Both the pineapple fried rice and pineapple curry are standouts.
With its cheery umbrella-topped patio and oceanfront locale, a visit to Thai Lemongrass in the summer is reminiscent of a visit to Thailand itself. And the delicious authentic dishes do nothing to disrupt that fantasy.
Thai Lemongrass is run by a team of six chefs, all formally trained in Thailand. This diversity of staff means you’ll be treated to dishes from all regions of Thailand, as well as some unique fusion creations.
The chicken mango lettuce wrap is a long-time favourite, the perfect healthy lunch with which to start or end a beach walk at nearby Cadboro Bay. If you’re looking for heartier dinner fare, the seafood is beautifully prepared. Try the Pla Lad Prig, a showstopper of a dish featuring crisply fried red snapper.
Chaiyo Drinking Bar & Thai Food
Not many businesses thrived during the COVID-19ovid19 pandemic, but Dumpling Drop was the rare exception. What began as a service selling frozen dumplings soon expanded to a brick-and-mortar restaurant offering a small but focused lunch menu of fried dumplings and sides.
Just this year, Dumpling Drop expanded yet again, this time adding a dinner service named Chaiyo, featuring Thai cuisine. Again the focus is on a small selection of perfectly crafted plates, and again they’ve found success.
The menu consists of just five dishes, all of which are delicious and none of which cost more than $13. It’s worth rounding up a few friends and sampling everything on offer. In fact, this is encouraged via a $75 try-everything option.
What do you think of this list? Did we miss your favourite Thai restaurant, or did we help you find a new favourite? Have a favourite dish you think deserves a mention? Let us know!