I feel like I am always looking for good Pad Thai in Montreal (often without success). So, when on a recent rainy Saturday my girlfriend randomly suggested C Thai (she was looking for a BYOW in Little Italy for another purpose when she stumbled onto it) and my diligence turned up this review from Shut Up and Eat proclaiming C Thai’s rendition of the famous noodle dish as the best Pad Thai in Montreal, I was intrigued.
We showed up at C Thai a bit early (around 6:30) and walked into a completely empty restaurant. Hmm… an interesting start, but we forged on (and it did start to fill out a bit as the night went on).
We started with an order of peanut butter dumplings. Peanut butter dumplings are one of those simple, ubiquitous dishes that I like to use to gauge the quality of an Asian restaurant. The dumplings at C Thai were very good. The dumplings themselves have a thin shell that is not too doughy and the sauce is sweet with a delicate accent of coconut milk flavour that makes it stand out from your run of the mill peanut butter and sesame oil sauce. A promising start.
Next up was Tom Yum wonton soup for the GF and a lemongrass / coconut milk / shrimp soup for myself. Both soups were solid and pretty much what you would expect. Mine seemed to have an extra hit of coconut milk that made it creamier than most I have had.
For our mains we shared the Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp and a dish featuring roasted duck and sauteed eggplant in a spicy sauce with basil (the Thai name escapes me).
The Pad Thai was excellent. The whole being equal to the sum of its quality parts – the noodles were chewy and just elastic enough, the sauce was sweet, tangy and slightly spicy as it should be, and the chicken and shrimp were fresh and well prepared. I was also happy to see that it wasn’t overcrowded with bean sprouts at the expense of noodles (I never understood why some places are so stingy on the noodles) or over sauced like some Pad Thai that I have had. It all came together really well. Is it the best Pad Thai in Montreal? I don’t know, maybe; but I feel confident saying it is the best one that I have had in recent memory (it reminded me of the Pad Thai that they used to serve at Bangkok 2 on St. Catherine, which I always found better than the one in Le Faubourg) and that it’s the dish that will play the biggest role in keeping me coming back.
The duck was good too, but it didn’t blow me away. On one hand, the slices of duck were nicely prepared, moist and not too fatty, as was the eggplant and the basil added a nice freshness. On the other hand, I thought the duck skin could have been a bit crispier and I found the sauce a little salty and not really “spicy”. My girlfriend really liked this dish though, and she’s usually more salt averse than I am, so who knows?
Here’s the bottom line – C Thai serves up really tasty, authentic, clean thai food in a warm and clean environment (notice the use of the word “clean” twice) at a reasonable price and lets you bring in your own booze. To put it another way – this place is just as good as / better than Chao Phraya at about half the price (once you factor in the BYOW element), so you can’t go wrong. My first experience at C Thai reminded me a lot of my first experience at India’s Oven a few years ago (right down to the empty dining room), in both cases the focus on cleanliness, freshness and quality ingredients combined with the owner’s pride in the food they were serving was palpable.
I will definitely be back, for that Pad Thai and to sample the rest of the menu (always alongside the Pad Thai though). Go check it out.
Price: Appetizers – $3-$10; Mains – $12-$20.
Rating: 3 – It’s good, man.
C Thai - 7112 Boul. St. Laurent – 514.508.3792