Behind the Name: Toronto's PAI

How Toronto’s popular Northern Thai restaurant decided on its name

With flavour profiles that often check all boxes of what one is looking for in a delicious plate of food, it's hard to deny the popularity of Thai cuisine and the fact that it is regarded as one of the most popular cuisines in the world. Having subtle influences from neighbouring countries of Laos, Burma and China, the cuisine in the northern part of Thailand is notably different from its often spicy southern counterpart.

Toronto’s PAI Northern Thai Kitchen has been serving up Northern Thai dishes since opening their first location back in 2014. Since then, two more locations have opened up–on The Queensway and Yonge St.


A post shared by Jeff Regular (@paitoronto)

The origin story of the restaurant's name is a rather sweet one. It is named after a small town in northern Thailand in which chef Nuit Regular and her husband Jeff Regular met and fell in love. Not only that, but it is also the same town where they opened their first restaurant, The Curry Shack.

“When it came time to open PAI, we wanted to bring the spirit and atmosphere of the town that we love so much to diners [here in Toronto],” says chef Regular. “The décor and atmosphere are reflective of the fun and casual hippie vibe of the town of Pai, while the menu introduced a lot of Northern Thai dishes–which I grew up cooking and eating–to Torontonians that weren’t commonly found on Thai menus at the time.”

Two other possible names were considered (Sukhothai and Sabai Sabai), but with their love story rooted in the town of Pai, it was hard to choose something other than that.

PAI's delicious food is currently available for delivery or pickup via DoorDash and Ritual or through their website.