Shaba Thai is one of the most inconspicuous restaurants on Portage Avenue. Located at 561 Portage Avenue, just down from the University of Winnipeg. It only seats about 10 people. There have been other restaurants in the location but none of them seemed to promise anything remotely promising. If they didn’t put signs out on the street you would likely walk by without a second glance. Fortunately they did put signs out on the street and I was curious enough that I decided to go in.
The restaurant is a mom and pop style of operation, and offers a menu of Thai and Shawarma. Yep, you read that correctly, Thai and Shawarma. The main emphasis in on the Thai Food so I decided on my first visit to give that a try.
Green Curry Soup and Satay
On my first visit I opted for a bowl of Green Curry Soup and an order of Satay. I ate the Pork Satay, and they meat was quite tender. The peanut sauce was all right, but not one of the better ones I’ve tried. the Green Curry Soup was quite delicious.
I did have to convince them that when on a scale of 1-10 for heat, I asked for 10, that I meant 10. When they saw I could handle the heat, they did bring me out an extra container of hot sauce to add to my bowl. I really like that they include a good variety of vegetables in the green curry.
For some reason the pictures of these two dishes didn’t save on my phone, so you’ll just have to take my word about how good they looked as well as tasted. The prices on the food are quite good, and certainly in keeping with any other Thai restaurants in the city.
Shawarma at Shaba Thai
On my second visit I figured I should at least give the Shawarma a try. With that in mind I ordered a Lamb Shawarma Platter. It was OK. The Lamb and all the other ingredients were well cooked. Though the Lemon Potatoes seemed to derive their name from the fact that they were the colour of a lemon rind and not from any particular lemon flavour. Still, it’s a pretty good meal. If you’re at the restaurant with someone who doesn’t like Thai, and I’m not sure why you would hang around with such people, the Shawarma’s not a bad replacement.
Ginger Stir Fry
I paid one more visit to Shaba Thai, because I wanted to try a couple more of the Thai items on the menu. This time I went with the Ginger Stir Fry and the Samosas. the Samosas had a good potato filling, but I thought they were a little doughy without much of crispiness to the outer shell.
This time when I placed my order, I was prepared for the spice question. When they asked what I wanted on a scale of 1-10, I said 11-12. This turned out to be the secret to getting a dish that made you sweat when you ate it. The beef was nice and tender and the vegetables were also pretty close to tender crisp. The one slightly odd thing was that the Ginger was cut into longish, thin strings. It made it just a little difficult to chew. There was a large pile of rice that came with the dish. On it’s own this would make a complete meal. The samosas just added a little to me testing my limits.
The service, when you can convince them how much you like heat, is friendly and efficient. The room is rather nondescript with just a few travel agency type posters advertising Thailand. They do have a few magazines to read while you eat. I saw a copy of National Geographic, and was pleased to discover that it was the current issue. Shaba Thai didn’t have a lot of eat in traffic when I was there, but they do seem to do a lot of business by pick up or delivery. Their delivery is through Skip the Dishes.
Shaba Thai is definitely a place that I will be popping into from time to time as I make my way along Portage Avenue.