|The Chili Thái branch in District 1’s Lý Tự Trọng Street. – VNS Photo Việt Dũng|
by Việt Dũng
For someone like me who loves Thai food and good old fried pork, Chili Thái in HCM City’s District 1 was a delightful dining experience.
I wanted to try out its branch on Lý Tự Trọng Street along with a friend, who also fancies Thai. Having gone there once before, she raved about the restaurant’s delicious tom yum soup and pad thai (stir-fried rice noodle), and also couldn’t wait to try more dishes.
When we arrived at the small restaurant, we were surprised to see a crowd of people waiting outside to be seated on a Tuesday evening, not exactly a peak day. The inside was also packed with customers, always a reliable indicator of quality.
But despite the crowd, it had a laidback vibe with some unobtrusive music playing in the background, groups of diners chatting and all the traditional statues and decorations you would expect in a Thai restaurant.
Chili Thái has a variety of traditional dishes, including salads and street foods such as meat skewers and fried fish cakes. There are also “Chinatown-style” seafood dishes such as stir-fried squid and fish.
Once we ordered we did not have to wait too long to be served either (only around 15-20 minutes), which was a good thing since the menu with its colourful and mouth-watering pictures had got us excited.
|A plate of soft-shell crab with salted egg yolk. The creamy egg yolk pairs very well with the fried crab. – VNS Photo Việt Dũng|
Our first dish was a soft-shell crab with salted egg yolk, which is rather popular with young people nowadays. The crab, as we had expected, was delightfully soft inside and crispy on the outside and the rich, creamy salty egg yolk paired beautifully with the fried crab. While I would have personally preferred the crab to be a bit crispier, there was absolutely no reason to complain.
While we were still scooping up the remaining egg yolk, our next dish arrived: Thai-style crispy deep- fried pork belly.
|The crispy and tender deep-fried pork belly was a joy to eat. – VNS Photo Việt Dũng|
The first bite is with the eye, as the saying goes, and the juicy pork belly slices fried to an irresistible golden colour along with crispy pork skin and sprinkled with sesame certainly made an impression.
It was everything we could hope for in a deep-fried pork dish: delightfully crispy outer layer and tender and flavourful meat with tasty fat inside, dipped in savoury Thai sauce with a hint of sweet and sour taste. We gobbled up the dish in a flash, relishing every piece.
Our final dish was moo ping, or grilled pork skewer, one of Thailand’s many street foods that are adored by locals and tourists alike.
The soft and tender sliced pork was marinated well to get that sweet and savoury goodness, and, much like the deep-fried pork dish, it was impossible to put down once we started eating.
|One cannot go wrong with a plate of Thai-style grilled pork skewer, a popular street food. – VNS Photo Việt Dũng|
Our bill came to just VNĐ400,000 (US$17), a reasonable price for a filling and satisfying meal. The soft shell crab cost VNĐ190,000, and the pork belly and skewer cost VNĐ130,000 and VNĐ70,000, respectively.
Chili Thái has two other branches in the city: one at Vincom Đồng Khởi in District 1 and another at Vincom Mega Mall Thảo Điền in Thủ Đức City.
Considering the popularity of Thai food among Vietnamese, HCM City has no shortage of excellent Thai restaurants, and you certainly cannot go wrong with Chili Thái, though you may want to consider making a reservation in advance. VNS
Address: 93 Lý Tự Trọng Street, Bến Thành Ward, District 1, HCM City
Tel: 028 3823 7727
Opening hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm
Comment: A popular Thai restaurant with a wide variety of street foods and tasty traditional dishes.