35 South Cumberland St.
The Thai Kitchen is a favourite spot to dine for many people in Thunder Bay. Owner Pia Venema prepares dishes that have people come for an authentic Asian food experience that is healthy and reasonably priced. Portion sizes are good for two, so with only a couple orders you can get a very good traditional meal going. The restaurant located at 35 South Cumberland in the Waterfront District is open Monday to Saturday 11am to 9pm.
The pad Thai, everyone’s favourite, is great. However, you could quickly develop new favourites by trying the curries, noodles, stir-fries, and soups. Meat portions are generous. Vegetarian dishes are in good supply. Symbols in the menu indicate spice heat levels and the presence of gluten. A variety of table sauces are available upon request.
My favourites, which could change next week, are the Tom Ka Gai (soup), Pad Krapow (stir fry), and the Kaeng Keow Wan (curry). I have yet to try any of the salads. It’s fun to peruse the options. Some menu items are available at the Country Market Saturday mornings from 8am to 1pm. At the restaurant on Cumberland, you likely won’t have to wait for a table. Although the Thai Kitchen does get busy, service is quick and they have enough room for their fans, a mix of students, families, and white and blue-collar professionals.
Long before Pia Venema opened her restaurant she catered from home and sold at outdoor fairs. Customers kept bugging her to her open a restaurant, but opening a restaurant is an expensive venture. Pia started hard, but in her third year the restaurant did well. Pia recalls how in the beginning she had many customers from Minnesota and Manitoba before the locals really caught on that there was something truly special in town.
Pia’s parents were rice farmers.She left her village for Bankok where she learned to cook. In 1986 Pia married a Canadian and moved here. Her cooks too are from Thailand, originally refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma). Pia contributed to aiding the refugees by training a few to cook and bringing a few to Canada.
The Thai Kitchen also gets busy with take out orders. In the summer, picnickers order food and trek down to the Thunder Bay marina (Prince Arthur’s Landing). Thai food is a great picnic alternative to the usual hot dogs, burgers and fries. Of course, it might take a bit of practice pronouncing and recalling the names of the Thai food you ordered. But it is well worth it, so try it out on your visit to Thunder Bay!