Elijah Ferrian feasts on some of the best Thai cuisine available in Saigon, and talks fresh ingredients, authentic process and lighthearted atmosphere with the owners. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Find yourself wandering down a nondescript alleyway right off of Thao Dien?
Do not question what is happening, just keep going. You will hear pop Thai tunes bellowing down the corridor, smell familiar aromas of grilled meats and feel the hustle and bustle of a restaurant humming with patrons.
This is Thai Street, and it’s a damn-near perfect place to eat.
This homage to everything Thailand was opened in February of 2016. Dan, former agricultural engineer by way of England, and Sana, a Thai native and chef extraordinaire, are partners in the business.
“I have been wanting to do this restaurant for probably 5 years,” Dan explained. “I love Thai food and the food in Bangkok. Thai food is on the streets. On the beach. Not inside with embroidered elephants on the tablecloths. The idea was to create Thailand, here. The feel of the street. I have nothing to do with the amazing food. That’s Sana.”
This is authentic Thai food. Sana never leaves the kitchen. She is the goddess-queen of the salad station. A part of the kitchen where there is no room for error. Where they churn out perfectly seasoned green papaya salad Bangkok-style (VND95,000). Som Tum is the ultimate Thai salad, and Sana takes this dish seriously.
The staff tastes the food with every plate they serve. They hand-press coconut milk. Most other restaurants are using store-bought, canned coconut milk. There is a commitment to quality here that you can taste.
Thai Street is grilling every night, and I’ll let you know that their ‘street-style’ barbeque chicken special, a whole or half bird, is ‘gawk at your table of friends with your mouth wide open’ good.
Kai Yang (BBQ Chicken, VND120,000 half, VND190,000 whole) comes with an addictive tamarind sauce with green onion, chilli and burnt rice. A sweet and sour sauce, and a silo of sticky rice. The birds are marinated with coriander root, garlic, salt and pepper, and coconut milk. You could go here just to have this dish and leave satisfied.
There’s red duck curry packing some heat, sweetened with pineapple and lychee (VND135,000), green chicken curry (VND95,000), although most of the curry options (red, green, and panang) come with your choice of chicken, beef, or pork.
Plus, there’s a slew of other Thai favourites like pad thai (VND120,000), pad krapow gai (VND95,000), and chicken and pork satay (VND95,000).
Thai Street serves koozie-coated bottled beer from VND50,000, and a wide variety of teas like Thai milk tea or butterfly pea tea served with fresh lime and simple syrup (VND50,000).
The whole design of this place is to remind guests of a wholly Thai atmosphere. As if walking down this alley one suddenly finds themselves smack dab in the middle of Bangkok.
Fun, unpretentious, laid back and creative Thai cuisine. This place is kind of like a film set. It’s a campy environment. A most enjoyable Thai cartoon atmosphere with some of the best food in the city.
Lunch comes soon.