Sookjai Thai

893 Fort St tel: 383 9945 closed Sundays and Holidays, no reservations

Sookjai Thai looks pretty and the wine list is better than most - other than that, there's a lot of room for improvement.

We arrived, cold and wet, waited at the door to be absently waved to a table. As we wandered aimlessly into the room, the server/host gave us a little more direction and offered us a booth. I was happy about that, because the booths are one of the best things about Sookjai. On a previous visit however, I had been disappointed to have my party of five squished around a table while several parties of two dined in booths - so on this visit I decided to feel ok about being a party of two in a booth. Among Thai restaurants in town, I have to give Sookjai the prize for decor. They've tried to make it kinda classy and you've got to respect that.

My sit down drink service was non-existent, which always makes me a little crabby, but I was happy to see an above average wine list. The glass list was a little mysteriously paired with the menu, but the bottle list was the best I've seen in a Thai restaurant. They didn't have my first choice, the Hawthorn Mountain Riesling, but the server assured me that my second choice a Sumac Ridge product, was 'the same thing' - sort of, I guess, but it didn't really instil me with great confidence in her wine service skills.

It was annoying, that in addition to not having the wine we wanted, that they were out of the first two things we tried to order off the menu with no explanation. Both BBQ items, we accepted the servers suggestions for a substitute, but were unfortunately disappointed by the outcome.

We started with the Tom Yum Ta Lay ($11) the sweet and sour soup with mixed seafood. While the broth was tasty with a nice tang, there were several problems with this dish, a) the seafood was obviously out of a frozen bag, called something like 'Thai mix.' Low end imported prawn, mussel and squid; b) the broth contained chunks of galangal, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf - all these things are flavourings and should be removed prior to serving. You cold possibly eat galangal, if you really wanted too, but the lime leaf and lemon grass are extremely fibrous and unpleasant to chew; c) It was an unappetising murky brown colour - not a crime, but could use some work. 

For our mains we had the Gai Yang ($12), a bbq chicken dish common to most Thai restaurants and the Nua Phad Bai Grapow ($12) a beef and pepper stirfry with basil, also fairly common.

The Gai Yang was the substitute for the unavailable dishes and I was grumpy when it turned out to be dry from overcooking and reheating. The flavour wasn't bad and the dipping sauce decent, but the breast meat in particular was way over done.

The Nua Phad Bai Grapow was tasty and their was a good mix of green and red peppers (I grumble when restaurants cheap and give me all green) and the basil was pronounced. No complaints on this dish, but it wasn't good enough to compensate for previous errors.

Throughout it all we had to listen to some of the worst restaurant music ever - PIANO INSTRUMENTALS!!! Seriously, we actually heard Unchained Melody. I felt like I was up too late watching infomercials.

There's some work to be done on the food, but the prices were acceptable. The service was a little flaky, but most importantly I'd like to be told when a large number of items are not available on the menu. However, despite all my complaints, all give kudos for having a half decent wine list - that in itself, could give me reason to return.  

reviewed December 21, 2006